Reaching the Halfway Point of My Chilean Adventure

Another ISA post! More reflections on making it halfway.

ISA Study Abroad Student Blog

Jean Rust is a student at Wichita State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jean is currently studying with Veritas Abroad in Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile.

It’s finals time. For everyone, it seems, except for all of us here in Chile. Everyone is talking about the end of the semester, summer plans and a break from the daily grind, but we just hit our mid-point.

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La mitad.


I’m at the halfway point of my trip here. Somewhere amongst the micro rides, late night chats, ice cream stops, feasts on bread, school, trips to las dunas, and beach days… time passed. 65 days. I’ve been in Chile for 65 days and I have a little less than that left.

In some ways, I miss home. I miss knowing where I am. I miss my friends. I miss comfort food. I miss familiarity.

But reversely, I love it here. I love going on adventures in Viña and Valpo. I love my new friends. I love Chilean food. I love learning.

So I’m in an interesting spot. I’m finally starting to feel like this is my home. I’m finally making that transition from tourist to resident. And I have to leave soon.

But I don’t want to whine about the lack of time I have left. I want to enjoy every second of it.

Las Marchas: Protests in Chile

Chileans have an interesting idea of what brings about social change. Especially young chileans. According to a report we read in my culture class. 50% of young people believe that it is not possible to influence politics.

However, of those who believe it is possible to influence it, 23% believe the most effective medium is public demonstrations. And in 2012, 14% participated in a march.

Marcha I witnessed

Marcha I witnessed

One of the big issues right now in Valpo is the planning of a new mall. On one hand, the citizens of Valparaíso don’t want the mall because Valpo is a cultural center. It’s old-fashioned. It’s classic. They don’t want the invasion of modernity. On the other hand, the city wants to build the mall because it would bring money and employment to the city.

There was a huge march on April 4. My culture class was in the Public Library looking up noticias (news stories) from 1973, a crazy political time for Chile. We were unable to concentrate and ended up watching a display of political opinion.

Semi trucks showing (and honking their protest)

Semi trucks showing (and honking their protest)

Hundreds of Semi-trucks were driving downtown, blaring their horns in protest. Semi-drivers here are independent. Therefore, when this strike happened, distribution slowed. Valparaíso is a coastal town and a huge center for Chilean imports. Therefore, when the truck drivers stopped delivering, boats were left stranded in the ocean waiting to unload and reload. There is still a back-up.

This is a video montage of the march:

It’s definitely a different atmosphere, but I think it’s awesome to see a political movement in action.

We live in a broken world.

This fact has become increasingly more obvious to me during my time in Chile. And for the most part it isn’t due to my experiences here. It’s due to the news that I keep hearing from the United States.

Boston Marathon Runners killed and injured due to explosives.

An abortion ‘doctor’ that killed after birth.

A man that killed helpless children at an elementary school.

And so many more.

Our world is incredibly broken and my heart aches for those hurting. I don’t know if this increase in apparent violence comes with age and awareness, or with the increase of media, or something else. But I know that the brokenness of the world we live in stems from our brokenness as people. We are a fallen people. We are lost.

And no, people aren’t inherently good. We are inherently sinners (Romans 3:23). Only through the cleansing blood of Christ can we hope to change that (Romans 6:23). I’m so thankful to be cleansed and covered by the blood.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt. In fact, I think my faith makes me hurt even more. I feel for the lost. The lonely. The mistreated. Those barely scraping by. Those who are sick. The hungry. The fatherless.

And I think we are called to care. (Matt 25) And we’re called to do something. So do something. Pray. Serve. Volunteer. Love those who need God’s love. Spread the light. (Matt 5:16).

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NIV)


Learning a New Language in Chile: Los Chilenismos

A Veritas Post… by me! This one was supposed to be on the ISA blog, but there was some misunderstanding. But no worries, feel free to learn about Chilenismos! (Also I don’t know what that food is…)

Veritas Abroad

IMG_0073Going to Chile, I felt decently comfortable in my grasp of the Spanish language. I knew I didn’t know everything, but I figured I could hold my own. However, once I finally made it to Chile, I realized I had a lot more to learn.

Chileans don’t speak Spanish. I mean, they do. But also they don’t. It seems like everything here has a different word than what I learned in my multiple years of Spanish class in the U.S.! When I ask for clarification, I often get “es un chilenismo,” meaning it is a local term that only Chileans use.

Some Examples:
Palta: Avocado (instead of Aguacate)
Choclo: Corn (instead of Maiz)
Al Tiro: Right Away
Cachaí?: Do you understand?/get it?
Fome: Boring
Pololo(a): Boy/girlfriend

JRust_sandAnother surprise I had: Chileans don’t enunciate. Basically they remove consonants from their words and smooth them all together. So instead of words…

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Noche de Intercambio

Two things I love: friends & food. 

Last weekend I had a superduper awesome time with my friends at the Noche de Intercambio fiesta. Basically everyone brought food from his or her home country and shared it. SO. GOOD. 




C.J. & Maria (the totally precious married couple studying with ISA) made apple pie. APPLE PIE. There were tons of American favorites and some German and Brazilian dishes as well. (The Chileans supplied Choripan: Chorizo on Bread. SO GOOD.) 




Also we played games. And I was on the best team ever [even though we didn’t win, we had the best spirit! …and that’s what counts, right?]




And also, we’re a really large group:




Loving a family you just met

My last post was about my Chilean family that I adore. I neglected to mention one integral member of the family. Our Abuelita. I don’t have any great photos of her or any great stories to tell, but she is definitely a key member in our little family. 

And recently, she suffered a stroke (as far as I understand). She has been in the hospital for almost a week. Even though she is over 90 years old, the ‘accident’ hit the family really hard. My host mom was already busy enough without the added concern of hospital visits and coordinating helpers for her mother. She’s strong, but strength can only get you so far. 

It’s definitely been a little different these last few days around the house. There’s been a change in the atmosphere. 

Please pray that Lisa and I can be helpful and not hindrances to our loving family. 

Familia Chilena

I love my family here in Chile. Absolutely adore them. So here’s a post about them!

With mi mama chilena, Julia and mi hermana chilena, Coni :)

With mi mama chilena, Julia and mi hermana chilena, Coni 

They are super duper fantastic. Julia is a Realtor and Coni is a high school student.

Feliz Cumple a Mama!

Feliz Cumple a Mama!

April 1st was Julia’s birthday. All of the family came over the weekend before and we celebrated with a giant asado (barbecue). It was definitely delicious. And it was definitely a fiesta (20+ relatives in our lovely home). It’s always fun to have the family over, because we get to experience la vida chilena. And spend some time with these precious children:

Borja, mi "sobrino" (nephew). He is literally the cutest thing.

Borja, mi “sobrino” (nephew). He is literally the cutest thing.

Antonia, mi "sobrina" (niece)

Antonia, mi “sobrina” (niece), who lives next door!

Family meals are always the best because we get to sit down and just chat about life. I’ve definitely learned the most about our family during meals. We’ve also shared some pretty comical times (hielo and yellow sound a lot alike). I’m so thankful to be living with such a fantastic family.

Also, we have a dog. Her name is Mimi, and she is a spoiled little thing, but so precious.

Mimi loves me. Or I love Mimi. Or both?

Mimi loves me. Or I love Mimi. Or both?

And last but most certainly not least, Lisa, my fantastic housemate. She puts up with me quite well. So here’s to one of the most awesome girls around:

I Love Lisa!

I Love Lisa!

I’m incredibly thankful for the people God has placed in my life here in Chile, especially my family. They make this experience so much better and so much more worthwhile. (: