Finally Arriving in Santiago

Today was a crazy long day. I made it to Santiago (finally!), met some of the ISA group, had a great meeting with the Veritas group, and enjoyed touring one of Pablo Neruda’s houses. Of course in my rush, I totally forgot to pull out my camera. So no hay fotos de hoy. Lo siento! 


Getting There is Half the Battle: My travel experience to Chile

Snow. Most of the time I absolutely love it. A few days ago? I absolutely hated it.


Snow is what started the most ridiculous travel experience I have ever encountered. I will try to recap it for you.

8:00 AM – Leisurely get ready, clean, and pack. After all, my flight doesn’t leave until 4:25. I’ll be fine. I just need to get everything ready

9:00 AM – Eat some bread with peanut butter. Last chance for real PB. And plus, I should eat breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day.

9:30 AM – Re-evaluate my packing list. Make sure I have everything packed, or ready to be packed.

10:00 AM – Send my last e-mail to my prayer team.

….then it all changed.

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What are Valparaíso and Viña del Mar Like?

Some of you might be wondering where exactly I am going and what the cities I will be living in are like. I will be living in Vina del Mar and going to school in Valparaiso (Valpo for short). The following is what my Chile handbook had to say about the cities:

“Valparaiso, located 68 miles northwest of Santiago, is Chile’s primary commercial harbor. The city gives both entrance and exit to the increasing international exchange of commodities and business activities. As both location of the legislative power and capital city of the Valparaiso Region of Chile, a national political division, the city contains the home offices of many of the main agencies that make up the organization of the Chilean nation, such as the Intendencia Regional, the top local authority; the Gobernacion Regional, the Consejo de Desarrollo Regional, the Secretarias Ministeriales Regionales and all other main divisions of the government services. You can also find the Chilean Navy headquarters in Valparaiso. With a population of roughly 300,000 inhabitants, Valparaiso houses four traditional universities and many other relatively new private institutes.

Valparaiso, known by locals as just Valpo, is a city with a very unique layout. Its unique architecture climbs up the sides of 48 hills which surround the bay and feature an impressive layout of streets, alleys and stairways. Its old-fashioned lifts, acensores, with their characteristic yellow and red colors, were built over 100 years ago and are still used today. They provide tourists and residents access to its picturesque hillside neighborhoods. The intricate alleys hide many architectural treasures such as colonial churches and beautiful miradores. The financial and commercial activity of the port city takes place in the beautiful old English-style buildings of “El Plan” in the lower part of the city.

The colorful Valpo.

Vina del Mar, where students may be living and/or attending classes, is a coastal town separated from Valparaiso by a single street, and it has roughly the same population as Valparaiso. Though physically close, the cities vary greatly in style. From the winding, chaotic streets of Valparaiso, the uniform, block-style streets of Vina may come as a surprise. The brightly-colored houses on the hillsides in Valparaiso make way for neutral-toned high rise buildings in Vina. Built more recently than Valpo and with the purpose of promoting tourism, Vina is a social and commercial hub, boasting some of the most popular beaches in the region!

Vina del Mar

Vina del Mar


Your experience with Veritas in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar will give you the opportunity to experience the Chilean  culture, form friendships with Chileans, and expand your understanding of the country. These experiences are facilitated by’s relative lack of tourists, and the preservation of its culture and its architecture. It’s up to you to take advantage of all that Chile and Veritas offer, and broaden your cultural horizons!”

So, yeah. I’m excited.

I have to fit everything I need for 130 days in one 50 pound suitcase? – Preparing to Study Abroad

(and a backpack, but that’s beside the point)

I’m leaving. Soon. 4 days to go.

And my suitcase is empty. Absolutely bare. I have a running spreadsheet with everything that I think I want to take, but that changes about every time I look at it. Questions that are swirling around my head:

How many sweaters should I take?

Would I really wear that denim jacket?

How many pairs of contacts will I need?

And, the most difficult question, what about shoes?

Packing is proving to be more difficult than I thought.


My suitcase, backpack, and the growing pile of things I want to take.

Even though packing is a struggle, I’m looking forward to my adventures abroad. I can’t wait to see what PUCV (Pontifical Universidad de Valparaiso) is like, live in my new home, meet new Chilean friends, and get plugged in to some of the ministries that Veritas has to offer. I’m super excited to minister to the girls in a local orphanage. Another ministry also sparked my interest. It’s CEMIPRE, a church for the differently abled community in Vina del Mar. They have an option to work with the worship team there. I come from a music background, so that sounds like a wonderful opportunity. I’ll just have to wait and see what God has in store.

As of now, I’m still in the preparation stage. I’m trying to get everything done that needs to be done stateside before heading out on my Chilean adventure. I just picked up my student visa, (TIP: get started on this as soon as possible if you are planning on studying abroad. It takes some time for your background check to process as well as your application to process once it gets to the consulate) I have already purchased some Chilean pesos, I’m brushing up on my Spanish (half of a year off can be problematic) and learning about Chilean culture. I’m also working to save up some extra spending money. But the countdown to departure is decreasing every minute. 4 days until the adventure of a lifetime.

I can’t wait.

The Ups and Downs of Substitute Teaching


  1. A kindergartener drew me a picture in art class!
  2. Students recognizing me in the hallway when I subbed for a different class in their school.
  3. Finally being in charge of the “quiet game.”
  4. “You’re the best sub ever!”
  5. “You’re pretty!”
  6. Choosing my own work schedule.
  7. Being requested by teachers.
  8. Teaching and learning at the same time.
  9. Watching kindergarteners dance to the KidzBop version of “Gangnam Style”


  1. “Miss Rust, are you going to have a baby?”
  2. Telling students not to chew on scissors.
  3. Telling students to get their scissors out of their mouths.
  4. Telling students not to cut their hair with scissors.
  5. Telling students not to cut other students’ hair with scissors.
  6. The use of scissors in general.
  7. Elementary vocal music songs stuck in my head.
  8. Tattling.
  9. Running out of creative ways to silence a class.
  10. “How old are you?” A bright child’s guess: “58?”

The Uncategorized:

  1. “Are you a teenager or are you married?”
  2. Two birthday children in one fourth grade class. Enough said.
  3. Valentine’s Day with 5th graders.

The lovely picture I was given from a precious kindergartener.

Valentine’s Day

The spoils of Valentine's Day.

The spoils of Valentine’s Day.

I spent my Valentine’s day with a class of fifth graders. Let me tell you, there is nothing like a classroom full of 10-11 year olds on a sugar and excitement high. The fact that each of them had 2-3 cupcakes, piles of candy, big hugs (those barrels of “juice” that are nothing more than glorified sugar water with food coloring), fun valentines to read, and a substitute did not make them any calmer. The classroom was covered in crumbs of chocolate cake and the kids were coated with frosting (in some cases) when they left.

Subbing on Valentine’s Day definitely made me appreciate all those holiday parties back in elementary school. Especially now that I can see it from the teacher’s perspective. It’s a completely different view from here.

Adventures as a Substitute Teacher

Background: I decided that since I had a few months of nothing to do, I would work as a Substitute Teacher in our local district. It took forever to get all of the paperwork and training done, but I’m subbing now!

My story for the day:

I was asked by a teacher at a middle school to come substitute for his middle school band and orchestra classes. I figured they would do a worksheet or watch a movie or something.

I was wrong. Dead wrong.

I got the lesson plans from him and realized that he wanted me to lead the class as they went through exercises and worked on their concert pieces.

Problem? I’ve never conducted before. Ever. I’ve never really even played an instrument. So I was terrified. I frantically googled all of the pieces and listened to them. I even asked my friend for a crash course in conducting (Thanks Caitlin!)

But I made it. God definitely helped me out. Thank goodness I had Professor Banke last semester. Thank goodness I really only had to conduct 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4. Mainly 4/4. So I survived. Barely.

What an adventure.