Safi, Outbound to Chile

17/12/19- Hi!! So I have been in Chile for almost 4 months and time has been moving really quickly. Here is a little life update- I finished school last week and and now have a couple months off for summer (future South American Outbounds... yes that's right you get 2 summer breaks!!). I am also changing host families in 10 days, which seems crazy to me. I am sad to be leaving where I live now especially because I am just a 3 minute walk from where my running team practices and 10 minutes from a cute plaza where I often meet up with friends, but I am excited for the change. Yesterday I got back from a week long trip to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia with part of my class for our "Gira de Estudio." Gira de Estudios are a Chilean tradition where you go on a trip with your class at the end of tercero or quarto medio (equivalent of 11th/12th grade) to celebrate your hard work almost being done with colegio. It was super fun and a really great way to bond with my classmates but I am happy to be home and sleeping in my own bed.

While I was traveling I kept on thinking back to what I read in Morganne's (outbound to Lithuania) post when she traveled to Spain as a Lithuanian... I was in Colombia as a Chilean. Our group would be addressed as "Chile" by local vendors who recognized our thick accents and of course all of our tours and events were in Spanish. At first it was a little strange for me to not be addressed as "gringo" (lol) but it was so amazing traveling with a different perspective. I mean our teachers and tour guides even took us to a disco one night which would never happen in the US (lol).

I also realized that I was geographically closer to my home in Florida than my home in Chile and also somewhat culturally. Colombia uses the same outlets as the US and I felt at home eating the arepas, fried plantains, fish, beans and rice that I eat regularly in Gainesville (Thanks Mi Apa). I was also easily able to find peanut butter in the grocery stores there, which is virtually impossible here in Chile. Overall, a wonderful trip that I definitely won't forget.

Now that school is out I don't really have any major summer plans (especially because I don't know what my next family will be doing during the summer) but hopefully I can travel to Santiago to visit the other exchange students and get to know the area where I live better. However, I am planning on attending a running camp for a week in the South of Chile called "Rapel." My team said I could go with them and apparently its near a lake but there is no food, bathrooms, or structures to sleep in. You have to bring your food for the week and a tent and whatever else you may need, but I am super excited because it is basically a running sleep away camp in the woods and I would be there with all my friends.

I am feeling happy with how my life is going here and am excited to be making close local friends that I want to spend more time with. Last week for example, my friend Martina invited me to "lo Vasquez" which is a religious pilgrimage to a Church. I went with her and her family and were met by thousands of other people, some who had biked or even walked over 100 kilometers from Santiago or their respective cities to make the journey (we walked the more comfortable 7k from our car). At the end we were met by a HUGE ferria (market) with vendors selling everything from watermelon to Christmas decorations. Then we took the micro (bus) back to where we parked. We then went to have a delicious lunch at a restaurant called "el sauce" filled with salad and huge racks of ribs... it was so so so good.

Anyway congrats to the outbound class of 20/21, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to reach out to me, you have such an exciting year ahead of you (and start studying your language NOW!!).

Chao, Safi

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