Chile: Fanny Packs and 80’s Music

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

I can’t even begin to explain how many wonderful aspects there are to studying abroad in Chile. While brainstorming how to begin writing this blog I had no idea what to choose of all of the amazing sites and feelings I have experienced in just my first few days here in Chile— maybe a little taste of it all?

I do feel like there are a few very basic steps in arriving here and settling in.

Step One: Initial Arrival

I have to say that I got close to no sleep during my day long trip from my hometown in Illinois to Santiago, Chile. Still, there was no way I was going to be closing my eyes during the first day. I don’t think I could have if I wanted to; there were so many things to take in!

Cerro San Cristobal—Our First Excursion

Step Two: New Friends

Everyone I meet here so fun spirited and friendly. The girls I roomed with for the first few days were ones who would live near me when we arrived in Vina del Mar. This was really nice because there are around 70 of us in the group. It would be hard to figure out who was where or even if someone lived right around the corner from you. I can’t wait to start meeting Chilean students as well.

Some of My Wonderful ISA Chicas

Step Three: New Sites

I really enjoy that ISA got us out into the cities and landscapes right away. Every day we went loads of new places. There are so many I need to go back to and explore.

Palacio de la Moneda – Another Excursion

Step Four: Family

AHH! My family is so wonderful! I wish my Spanish was better so they didn’t have to go in slow motion whenever they want me to really understand them. Both of my Chilean parents have been so helpful in drawing me maps, talking about culture, and just welcoming me into their home and country!

A view of Valpo from the coast

Step Five: Culture

Chilean culture is so fun and lively! The landscape is painted with such a variety of color. Houses aren’t just white or brown; everyone seems to have a different colored house. And the graffiti is amazing as well; the whole town is covered with beautiful murals! Even my backpack, pencil pouch, and fanny pack that I purchased at some artisan markets are covered in beautiful, colored print. The music on the radio is cheesy and cheerful, too; there is A LOT of 80’s music—both sappy and poppy. My Chilean mother showed me a ton of music by Luis Miguel.

My New Chilean Backpack, Fanny Pack, and Pencil Pouch

An excellent example of popular 80’s music: Luis Miguel

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