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Gap Year Abroad

33 posts from October 2012


Peru Bound!

If you are reading this I am hopefully on my way to Peru. I will be staying in Cusco for two days and then I will do a four day trek to Machu Pichu! I’m going with five of the other Gap students and we will be gone until next Wednesday, so don’t be alarmed when you don’t see any posts from me.

un abrazo,




Since I have been in Chile for almost three months now( has it really been that long?) my Spanish has improved…well kinda.

Chilean Spanish is very different from the Spanish i was taught. Chileans use many words that are simply not used in any other countries and they use lots of slang.

here are some examples:

palta:avocado, although in other Spanish speaking countries it’s called aguacato

choclo:corn, but it’s called maiz in other Spanish speaking countries

frutilla:strawberry, called fresa in other Spanish speaking countries

there are other, but here a few of the slang words as well

  • pololo/a-boyfriend
  • bacan-cool(it actually has an accent on the a, i just can’t figure out how to do that)
  • genial-cool
  • ¿cacahi?-understand?
  • pasarlo chancho-have a good time
  • lolo/a-teenager
  • luca-1000 pesos
  • taco-traffic
  • guagua-baby
  • fome-boring
  • melindroso-picky eater
  • po- a shortened version of pues that Chileans add to the end of just about any expression ex: si po, vamo po, no po
  • micro-name of the buses that are used to get around Vina and surrounding areas

most of these were actually taken from Hannah and Maddy’s blogs, so thanks for that guys :)

So those are some of the new words I’ve learned. Although I think my Spanish has improved a bit, I’m actually not speaking Spanish 100% of the time, since whenever I am with other Americans or even Germans, or basically anyone who isn’t Chilean we tend to start speaking in English.

my friends and I after the 5k


Santiago metro


Santiago:Dia Tres

Although the race started at 10, the event started at 8 so we left the hostel around 8:30. Unfortunately the metro doesn’t open until 9 on Sunday. So we decided to take a taxi. On the way we saw several groups of women walking to the race, all sporting their pink t-shirts.

There were pink tents set up all over when we arrived. There was also free powerade since they were one of the sponsors. After I went on a quick warm up run and Maddy and Mel checked in our bags we did a zumba warm-up! I’ve never run a road race that had a warm0up before, let alone zumba. It was incredibly fun. After the warm-up we headed to the start line. There were about 3,400 women in the Santiago race, but the race was held all over Central and South America and about 70,000 women throughout South America ran this particular race, which is pretty cool.

The start was pretty rough considering there were so many people. I could barely move. Even once the race had started it was still pretty tough to move just because there were soooo many people. I ended up placing 25th overall though and I even got a medal(so did everyone else too.) There were about five tents filled with bananas and oranges so Maddy, Mel, and I helped ourselves and stocked up on as many bananas as we could. There was even a message tent, but the line was pretty long for that. We did however have a cool down with the same guy who had lead the zumba warm-up. Overall it was pretty much the best 5k I have ever run.

After the race we headed back to the hostel. We were actually supposed to check out at 10:30, but that had been impossible since the race didn’t start till 10. Luckily the staff didn’t really care. Mel decided to head back to Vina since she had a presentation to work on, but Maddy and I decided to go back to El Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos.

It was so interesting. I could have spent all day there. The museum was the idea of former president Michelle Bachelet. The idea was to create a museum about the victim’s and injustices that occurred during the military dictatorship in Chile so that future generations would not forget what happened. The museum was full of pictures, video clips, old radio reports and news clippings. I learned many new things about the country that I’m living in which I’ve never even thought about before.

After the museum we got a bus back to Vina. It was just in time too because it had started to ran in Santiago. We arrived home to discover it was raining in Vina though. Luckily my host mom had dinner all ready when I walked in the door :)

Santiago:Dia Dos

We ate a quick breakfast at the hostel and then got back on the metro to go pick up our race gear. We arrived a little early so we walked through a farmer’s market we found in the park(although this one didn’t have any free samples) we did found some amazing raisins so we bought a kilo and ate them happily. We also found some exercise machines that were pretty fun. The free t-shirts we got were awesome! They weren’t cotton, and they just looked so cool! We also got some free iced tea and an awesome drawstring bag. After collecting all of our awesome free stuff we headed to Fantasilandia, Chile’s largest amusement park(we got there via the metro of course). According to my guidebook the park only had four rides, but it was actually much bigger than that. (I think it’s time I got a new guidebook since it seems to be a bit outdated.) There were roller coaster, upside down pirate ships, a log flume, a few haunted houses, and a bunch of other rides that went upside down, so basically we had a blast. After the park I called my cousin Steve who is currently living in Santiago. I had arranged to meet him after the park. We actually met at the hostel we were staying at. He and his wife and their adorable three month old son took us around the Bellavista neighborhood. We went through this little market and then to this adorable place called El Patio which has a bunch of different restaurants and shops. My cousin treated us to dinner which was so nice and I was able to get better acquainted with Steve and Dayana since we had never actually met before. By the end of the day Mel, Maddy and I were all pretty beat from being on are feet all day. After we arrived back at the hostel we tried to find a place to buy fruit or a snack so we could eat something before the race the next day. One of the employees at the hostel informed us that most places were already closed and didn’t open until around eleven the next day. Luckily we were able to get some bananas from the kitchen hostel.

Santiago:Dia Uno

Last weekend, Mel, Maddy and I decided to visit Santiago. The main reason for our visit was to run a 5k on Sunday, but we decided to go for the entire weekend since we had only been to Santiago for one day with UVM and the tour had been pretty lame.

It was a very last minute trip. We booked the hostel and registered for the race Monday night. Friday morning we headed to the bus terminal. We had agreed to meet at 10:30. However, my clock was somehow an hour early, so I arrived around 9:45, thinking I was late. Nevertheless, Maddy and Mel soon arrived and we purchased two way tickets, which only cost a little under ten dollars and boarded a bus that was leaving at 10:30 and we were on are way.

Once we arrived we hopped on the Santiago metro, which we would come to know very well during our short visit and headed to the hostel. We had each received an email from the hostel saying it was two blocks from the metro station Salvador. Unfortunately, we had all forgotten to bring the address of the hostel with us and we didn’t have a map…so we decided to ask another hostel if they knew were are hostel was. Luckily they did and we were soon settled and grabbed a quick lunch at the cafe located within the hostel and then headed to the aquarium.

We had found out about the aquarium in my guidebook and were all extremely excited to go. The aquarium was located inside an interactive museum, which also sounded fun, but we were much more interested in the aquarium. So we hopped back on the Santiago metro. Once we got off though, we had no idea where to go. However we spotted  a collective and were simply going to ask him for directions, but it was only a dollar each to get there so we piled in and in less than five minutes arrived at the aquarium.

We were utterly disappointed to discover the aquarium no longer existed. We decided not to go to the interactive museum, but instead we headed to El Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos which is about Chile’s dictatorship. Unfortunately, it was just closing when we arrived.

After that we walked around Bellavista for a bit and then we found this wonderful farmer’s market selling all sorts of arts and crafts. There were even free samples! There were a bunch of really cool stands and we found whole wheat vegetarian empanadas! So of course we had to try them and they were the best things ever. Instead of baking cookies, we decided to make these from now on.


Open air market trip



After local produce was brought up in conversation last night, my host parents graciously invited me today to the local farmer’s market. At first glance, it seems like a bunch of haply strewn tents in a random field, but it turns out it’s actually a bustling hive of energy. There are vendors yelling out prices, kids running up and down the aisles, and people comparing prices and inspecting the crop everywhere. Although there are many fruit kiosks and shops in Chile, and it is sold in every supermarket, the open air market is nearly 1/3 of the price of the fruit sold elsewhere. And the market is only open on Saturdays and Wednesdays, so naturally it’s crammed full of chilenos getting food for the week. Alongside the fruits and vegetables, there's a large variety of seafood as well. It was a great experience for me, and my host mom bought a mango for me as we were walking out. We had it with chirimoya as soon as we got back, and I loved the unique cultural experience overall. I already told my host mom I'd be accompanying her next week as well!




Santiago De Chile

As I mentioned previously, Hayley, Mel and I went to Santiago this weekend. We left Friday morning, and had a great time. A basic summary of our trip-


After a two hour bus ride, we arrived in Santiago and took the metro to get to our hostel. We checked in, had lunch there, and relaxed before heading out and walking around and seeing some of Santiago for ourselves. One of the more interesting things we found was a bridge where couples had attached locks to the sides of the bridge and painted little notes to each other on the sides of the bridge- some of the inscriptions were so old that they had started to fade! After that, we ended up finding an amazing artisan fair, with lots of local and home-grown organic products. For our dinner, Hayley found a stand that was selling whole-wheat vegan empañadas filled with cheese and sautéed vegetables- it was a great take on the typical Chilean empañadas and absolutely delicious.



We began the day by eating breakfast at our hostel, and then took the metro to Parque Los Dominicos. There, we picked up our 5K Las Mujeres Corremos race registration packets and some delicious raisins at a farmers market before heading back to the hostel. We then went to Fantasilandia, which is a large amusement park. It was definitely an interesting experience (as I’ve never been taller than an entire crowd before, that’s a new one) but it was worth it when we got to ride some awesome rollercoasters. After that, we headed back to the hostel to meet Hayley’s cousin, Mark. He works at the US Embassy in Santiago and although he had never met Hayley before, it was wonderful to meet his wife and 3 month old baby, Matthew. They were extremely polite and we had a great dinner in a restaurant off of Calle Bellavista with them. We were tuckered out and jumped into bed as soon as we got back to our hostel.


We woke up early to get ready for the race, and then took a colectivo (local black and yellow taxi) to Parque Los Dominicos. We had a great time doing Zumba as a warm up for the race, and running it as well. Hayley actually finished 25th out of  3,500 people which is absolutely amazing! Mel and I finished closer to 300th place.. but who's counting?! After the race, we enjoyed free bananas and oranges and a cooldown stretch. It was a great experience overall, and I'm sure we'll be signing up for more 5Ks and races in the future.



Spotted- Flowers!

One of the best things about the recent rains in Chile have been the amazing flowers.. it seems that every corner you turn, you'll see more! My favorite are the purple wisteria vines that climb up the houses, they're absolutely gorgeous. Viña Del Mar is overflowing with flowers, and it couldn't be prettier.



Gap Bloggers

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  • Smith - Gap Year Abroad in Chile
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  • Chloe - Gap Year Abroad in Chile