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.
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!
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 Valpara.so’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.