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Gap Year Abroad

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I have been in Chile for three weeks now and I am in love with it.
My first impression of Chile was how cold it is here. Prior to coming here i did alot of research on Chile and so i knew that it was winter, but i was still not expecting it to be so cold! I stepped off the plane in true Oregon fashion wearing birkenstocks and a t-shirt, and quickly noticed that everyone around me was in fluffy winter jackets, scarves, and hats.
Once i met up with the other CIEE students, we headed to Vina del Mar for orientation. We stayed in a hotel in the center of the city and got to know each other, and learned about the city and how to get around. There are around 35 of us CIEE students, and it never ceases to amaze me how even though we are all from completely different schools and parts of the country we all became instant friends in those first couple of days.
After being in Chile for 3 days, we all got to meet our hosts families. We were all so nervous to meet our Chilean families! As soon as i met my family, they all gave me big hugs and began driving me around the city and pointing out landmarks. In my Chilean family, i have two brothers around my age, and a younger sister. My first day with my family was so busy and so much fun! My family took me to the sand dunes in the nearby city of ConCon where we could see a view of the entire bay. Standing up there and looking back at Vina del Mar and Valparaiso was the moment when it all became real for me. This is my home for the next 5 months. wow. I never dreamed it would be so beautiful and alive here.
Last week i started classes at the Universidad Vina del Mar. I am taking three classes for exchange students, and one class where i am the only non-Chilean. My classes for exchange students are very interesting, and of course all in spanish. My class with all Chileans is a European history course, and it is going to be a challenge! the professor talks so fast, but the other students are very friendly and help me out alot during breaks and after class.
Today the weather here is much warmer and i am considering going to class without a scarf today.


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