Hey everybody, sorry it took me so long to wite a post, but it´s been pretty crazy, with being in a new country and having a big earthquake and all...
So, I think I´ll start in Boston. Leaving my parents was horrible. I cried so hard. I´m sure I looked like a fool, but I coudn´t stop. I fell asleep on the plane to Charlotte, where I had a layover before Miami. I had a slice of pizza and went to my gate, where they had just started boarding. When I got on and sat down, I was talking to a really friendly man, who wasn´t able to sit with his adorable son, but was next to me. And when I told him I was an AFSer to Chile via a Miami orientation, th girl sitting in the row in front of me turned around and talked to me. Her name was Tanna and she was going to the same orientation, and then to Brazil for a year. I talked to her before taking off. And when we landed, wewalked together to baggage and found the AFS representative. After a while, we found our bags and headed to the hotel within Miama International Airporttt.
We signed in and went to our rooms. I met my roommate, Emily, and another girl from Minnesota, Maddy, who´s also going to Viña del Mar. They were both really nice. I freshened up and went to the begining of the orientation with Tanna, who had come to my room.
We had name tags and all introduced ourselves toeach other. We were all from the US. 11 of us going to Chile, 9 girls and 2 boys. And 3 to Brazil, 2 girls and 1 boy. All of us, except Tanna, are going for one semester. The orientation was kinda tedious, but only because we were all so tired from traveling. But the woman leading it was really good. And we had two speakers, one woman from Brazil, and one from Mexico who had lived in Chile on an exchange. They were both really helpful and interesting. We had time for dinner and a bit of free time and whatnot before our 11 pm curfew.
In the morning, we had breakfast and again, had more orientation. With sleep, it was much more interesting =). We learned a ton, about rules, AFS history, how to be a good AFSer, what our goals are, and what to expect. Overall, it was really helpfull.
At about 5, we said bye to the Brazilians, since their flight was about 3 hours earlier than ours. It was sad, because all three were super nice. But we only had a couple hhours left before we had to leave. And we ate dinner and had an interbational scavenger hunt to do in the airport, and we all played cards and stuff. It was more fun than I thought was possible in an airport! At 8 we all got our bags and went to check them. We had to wander foreverrrr to finally check them at the third place. What a hassle, but as my mom says, there are people who have real problems. Which was definately proven this week...
Anyway, we got through security and everything, and went to the gate, which was all pretty easy, since it was a red eye flight at 11:45. But, it was delayed to 12:30. We walked around, played cardds, read magazines, etc. Not too bad, we were in good company.
When we boarded the plane, I was next to Maddy, and we ate dinner, which they gave us on the plane, niceeee. And everone took sleeping pills, but I didn,t want to, because they make me feel really gross and groggy when I wake up. So me and the only other kid who didn,t take them, Raleigh, sat next to each other. We were soooooo xcited. I slept off and on through the night, but not much. We landed at 8:30, two hours earlier than we were supposed to.
We all had to get through customs and then baggage claim, and then to immigration, which was scary. I had to speak in Spanish, and it was really important information, so I was super nervous. But I made it! We walked out of immigration, to the outer part of the airport, where therewas a unch of AFS volunteers, and kids from Thailand, Austria, Japan, France, and eventuallyFinland and Switzerland (at the camp there were also kids from Austrailia, NewZealand, Norway, Germany annnd I think that´s it). We all took a bus about half an hour away, to our orientation camp.
The ride was pretty fun, looking at all the billboards and stores and neighborhoods. I couldn´t believe that I was actually here, in Chile. It´s been so surreal.
The camp was beautifulllll. It had avineyard to the edge of it, and fields, and rooms with bunkbeds, and 3 small pools, and tennis courts, and i big dining hall, and two meeting rooms, and outdor patios. When we arrived we were allowed to swim, which was great, since it was about 80 fahrenheit. Then, we had a meeting with all the volunteers and we met the president of AFS Chile, which was really interesting. We were told we needed to prepare something for a talent show. So us, the Americans, decidedto teach everyone the song Waddly Acha..ha I have no idea how to spell it!
So then, we had another meeting, and we all wrote down our fears about the coming months on papers and put them in our pockets. And, we watched two of the AFS Chile volunteers dance the cueca, the national Chilean folkdance. Then, they asked if anyone wanted to try to learn it. My friends from the US knew that I dance, so they decided to tell me to. So I decided what the heck, why not make a fool out of myself, try somethng new, and have fun!! Ha, it was really hard, beccause I "learned" the dance by dancing it and trying to follow. It´s really cool. Irecmend trying to watch it on youtube or something...it imitates mating chickens. =)
Then, it was time for dinner. The vegetaian dishes have been surprisingly yummy. After dinner, which was around 8:30, I think, we all put on warm clothes. Then, we went far out into a frield, where some people were building a bonfire. We were told that we shouldn´t have fears, and that this experience would be great. Then, everyone, with the other kids from thier countries, went up and threw the papers from earlier into the fire, with a scream. Ha embarassing, but fun.
Then, we went back to the patio and had the talent show. It was halarioussss. We all had dances or songs or other typical things from our countries. Afterwards, the Chileans put on music and we dancedddd, which was soooo fun. Our curfew was midnight, so at midnight, we stopped and went to bed.
And then, at 3:30 in the morning, I woke up to noises which I thought was a bulldozer (I don´t know, I was half asleep), and then the room strted shaking. And my trombone fell over with a huge thud. And I looked around, and the sheets to my be looked like they were rippling. It felt like it lasted forever (later, my host mom told me it was amost 3 minutes!). As soon as it finished, one of the volunteers walked into our room, saying it was an earthquake, and we all needed to quickly put on warm clothes and get outside. We did as we were told and gathered with our own countries. We were told we needed to sleep outside, because of the probable aftershock tremors. They brought out tons of blankets and we all cuddled up, trying to get to sleep. I swear, we looked like refugees, it was so scary.
At about 8 in the morning, the sun started to rise. We were able to eat some bread and yoghurt and juice. There was no electricity. We were finally able to see the extent of the damage at our camp, which wasn´t nearly as bad as the epicenter´s. Craziness. The wooden lttice at the patio was completely collapsed. And there was broken glass and no water for showers etc...
During the day, we all tried to get some peace of mind, even thought we barely had any access to the outside world.We, the students, couldn´t call or email or anything, but many of the volunteers could call their families, almost all of whom, I think, were safe. But it was all pretty confusing. During the day we all sat and napped and talked and played futbol and swam and read etc. And it went by pretty slow. It was pretty nerveracking.
Anyway, I realllly need to go to sleep right now, but I promise to write more and put up photos tomorow.