I've been e-mailing my Chilean family, the Poblete Merinos, for the last couple weeks. As soon as I found out who I was placed with, I contacted them right away. I have a younger sister, Gabriela, who is 14, an older brother, Camilo, who is 18 and an older sister, Melisa, who is 17. However, Camilo is on an AFS exchange to Norway this year. And Melisa is away on AFS to New Zealand. So I will be Gabriela's unica hija, her only sister, for this semester.
My family lives in the small town of Vina Del Mar (sorry I can't figure out how to use accents or tildes on this computer, sorry!), which is right outside of Valparaiso. I only realized that I'm not in the city of Valparaiso, when speaking to my host mom. But Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar seem absolutely beautiful. Valparaiso is the biggest port city. It means "Paradise Valley". And althhough Santiago is the capital city of Chile, Valparaiso is where the national government meets. And Chile just elected a new president, who's a big change from their most recent president. So I'll be there to witness that! It's also a really historic city. And Vina del Mar is right outside it.
I've been chatting with Gabriela over facebook and she says that she's looking forward to me arriving, but she doesn't want to go back to "colegio", highschool. The school looks really cool to me. I've looked at the website. I even get a uniform, complete with blazer, plaid skirt, and knee socks! And the philosophy of the school seems really progressive. I'm so nervous about having to learn and be graded in classes taught in Spanish. At some point, I'm sure I'll get better, But from other AFSers, I've heard that the first two weeks are pretty bad in terms of the language.
I've been meaning to call my host family, but I kept coming up with excuses because I've been so nervous about actually speaking, not typing, in Spanish. However, since my Chilean family told me they'll be leaving for vacation at a lake in the South of Chile tomorow, I figured it was now or never.
So, I called. I dialed and was insanely nervous. And then, I heard "Hola?". And I just started to talk. At first, I was terrified. But Berta, mi mama, told me to be "tranquilo" and we just talked. She answered a bunch of my questions and was really helpful. And she seems really sweet. She kind of reminded me of my own mom, just being caring and helpful. And I'm sure my Spanish wasn't nearly perfect. But hey, I tried.
I'm so excited, but still so nervous!!! I only have a little less than a month before I leave for Miami. And there's still so much to do! That's all for now...
P.S. My school is "Colegio Alborada de Curauma"...my computer doesn't want me to post the link, but there's a great website.