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Santiago, Chile




permalink written by  SantiagoFellows on May 10, 2010 from Santiago, Chile
from the travel blog: SantiagoFellows's Travel Blog
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Day 1!

Santiago, Chile


Today marks the first day of our Santiago adventure. Our flight was slightly delayed in Santiago, which resulted in a late arrival to the city this morning. We ended up getting in around 9:00, dropped our bags off at our hotel and headed right to our orientation at a cafe around the corner. Following the hour and a half orientation/breakfast we all returned to the hotel, checked in and took a short nap before starting our "City Game" tour. Our City Game group was the same group as for this blog, Faith Anne, Bailey, Carson, Lauren, and me. We accomplished a few of the tasks on the list but we got slightly sidetracked by a Chilean artisan market and then later by a café with snacks and vino. Tonight we headed out as a group for dinner and then headed to Flannery’s Irish Put and a karaoke bar for some late night entertainment!

A few thoughts about the day:

1) Being in Chile makes me actually want to speak Spanish. I took Spanish for four years in high school and even though I can say enough to get by, I wish that I had paid better attention during that time. At one point during the day, I walked down to the lobby and accidentally asked a rapid fire question to the concierge in English. He looked at me in total bewilderment before calling his English-speaking concierge friend over to help me. Oops.

2) I found out that they do not bargain at the artisan markets here. I probably could have found that out if I had spent more than 10 minutes looking at my Chilean travel book, but I learned for myself when I tried to bargain down my Mom’s Mother’s Day present at the artisan market.

3) Being at dinner last night, I was reminded of how much I enjoy our Neeley Fellows class! Also, thank goodness for Andres, our friend and translator!

I borrowed a Flip camera from my brother and took a few videos during the day which I’ll post later today!
Also, today we climbed to the top of the Santa Lucia hill which overlooked Chile. It was absolutely gorgeous and probably a highlight of the day. Definitely worth the trip up there! I went ahead and attached a picture so you can see!

permalink written by  SantiagoFellows on May 10, 2010 from Santiago, Chile
from the travel blog: SantiagoFellows's Travel Blog
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Day 2!

Santiago, Chile


Today has been a great day so far in Santiago! Luckily, because of our schedule, we were able to explore a little more of the city, and I am loving every second of it! This morning, we all woke up bright and early to go visit the U.S. Embassy. Before we left though, we grabbed a quick bite to eat in the hotel. One thing, I've noticed is that their breakfast is very different from the American style breakfast. Yes, they still had eggs and sausage, but they had also had a lot of fruit, toast, jam, and a few sweets... oh, and some cold cuts. But the best thing so far has been their coffee! It is much better than ours' back home.

Anyway, after we all ate, we started our walk to the Embassy, which is only a few blocks away from our hotel. Once we arrived at the gate, we waited outside as our guide spoke with the people at the Embassy. As it turned out, we were unable to visit at our schedule time because of an emergency town hall meeting called by the Ambassador. Yesterday, the Embassy had a breach in security in which a man that had gun powder and cell phones all over him attempted to entire the building. We left the Embassy and returned when their meeting was finished about an hour later. Drew, a foreign service officer, spoke to us about the relationship between the U.S. and Chile, in addition, to his own experience working in an Embassy. It was extremely interesting to hear is point of view about the Chilean-American relationship and how strong and mutually beneficial it is. We also asked him about how Chileans view Americans, and he said for the most part they don't really take notice in Americans all that much and that there isn't really a negative or positive view of us. However, as we've walked down the streets of Santiago we have encountered some very very nice people but have also received a few glares here and there.

After our visit at the Embassy, we left and a small group of us broke off to go eat lunch and explore the city more! We went to the top of San Cristobal hill, which was absolutely gorgeous! It overlooked the entire city, and we were able to really see how big Santiago is... 6 million people! We all just took pictures and hung out at the top...it was so serene and peaceful. Unfortunately, the sky was filled with some smog so it was a little difficult to see everything. To get to the park, we had to go through the university neighborhood, which was very different from the business area we are staying in. It was definitely interesting seeing another part of the city.

Now, we're just getting ready to go to our Welcome Dinner here. Then another full day of company visits and speakers! We'll keep you all update!!

Night from Santiago,
Bailey

permalink written by  SantiagoFellows on May 11, 2010 from Santiago, Chile
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Day 3

Santiago, Chile


Today was the busiest day we have had in Santiago. We traveled around the city to four meetings with four companies here in Chile. Of course we started the day off with delicious Chilean coffee and breakfast in the hotel before loading the bus. Our first stop was Terra, a Brazil-based internet media company that has a Chile branch. This office visit was very interesting! A very pregnant Anita Arriagada greeted us and invited us to have some refreshments before she began her presentation. I have noticed that it is very common in Chile for women to have very strong careers. Anita described the business of Terra to us as basically a portal for Chileans to find all the online content they need – sports, life and style tips, news and entertainment such as online episodes of popular TV shows. Terra seems to be on the forefront of the internet based companies in Chile and is a very advanced company. Anita answered all of our many questions and presented us with some Terra goodies before we left the company.

Our next stop was Entel, the largest telecommunications company in Chile. Ernesto Eglinton graciously welcomed us with a dreamy slice of chocolate cake, juice and coffee. This presentation was long and we heard lots of details about Entel and its operations. After the presentation, we were allowed to go up into one of Entel’s cell phone towers. It was quite the experience! We took an elevator up 10 stories and then walked up several flights of stairs. Once we got to the ‘platform’ we had an incredible panoramic view of the city. It was scary for some but I found it amazing! We were allowed to go even higher and climbed about 6 flights of stairs on a spiral staircase that had no railing. It was a little nerve-wracking, but the view from the very top of the tower was just beautiful. Despite the smog, we could see very far in every direction.

Since our trek up the Entel tower took longer than expected, we had to eat a very quick lunch before our next meeting. The bus dropped us off at a food court near the hotel. Most of us got pizza at an Italian food restaurant. The next meeting we had was with Nathan Young the CEO of NEOS and an American expatriate. He told us about his experience with the Chilean business culture. In Chile, being in meetings makes businessmen feel important and they spend most of their day in meetings although these meetings are usually not productive. Because his American work ethic led him to be much more productive than his coworkers, Nathan was able to rise to the position of CEO by the age of 29. I was a bit surprised to learn that the slower pace of life of the Chilean people is reflected in the business aspect of the culture as well.

Our last meeting of the day was with Brooke Lloyd from VE Global. He gave us a brief overview of the mission of the company, which operates to provide educational opportunities to at-risk youth in Chile. He told us a bit about the projects that we will be working on tomorrow during our day of service with the Adena Maria Reina orphanage. We will be painting the interiors of some of the houses on the property and restoring a basketball court for the girls to use. I am really looking forward to our day of service! I think it will be very fun to have interaction with some of the children here in Chile. Unfortunately, we have been asked not to take pictures while we are there.

One of the things I have noticed is that while earthquakes are common in Chile this time of year, everyone we have spoken with has talked about the impact of the February earthquake and their experience with it. The large earthquake, which was 8.8 in magnitude and lasted approximately 3.5 minutes, was one of the largest in history. Luckily, the construction in Santiago was built to withstand these kinds of tremors. We actually felt a couple of earthquakes today! They were very short in length, lasting only a second or so, and felt like vibrations. It was kind of cool to experience although I hope we don’t experience anything stronger.

It has been another great day in Chile! Thanks for keeping up with us. We are looking forward to more adventures tomorrow.

Goodnight for now!
Faith Anne



permalink written by  SantiagoFellows on May 12, 2010 from Santiago, Chile
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Day 4

Santiago, Chile


As I sit on the hotel couch updating this blog, I am enjoying a delightful dessert courtesy of Fragola, a Santiago gelato shop. Amaretto is the flavor of the night.

While deciding which flavor to order, I sampled many including nutella, coco and limon. My taste test strategy not only satisfied my taste buds, but also mirrored how we have spent our time in Chile. Everyday we sample a new taste of Chilean culture.

Today’s Flavor: Service Learning

After completing our service learning projects this semester, the Fellows have gained appreciation for giving back to the community. Our projects benefitted communities in North Texas. Today, we had the opportunity to impact another community removed from our own. TCU’s mission statement, “to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community,” encourages and supports our efforts. If community service in South America doesn’t constitute responsible citizenship within a global community, someone please tell me what does.

An hour bus ride took us to the Southeast corner of Santiago where we met Brooke from VE Global at Aldea Maria Reina, a residence for the protection of at-risk girls. The private orphanage has emerged as a pioneer and visionary in a system of family life and training in promoting self-esteem and self-development.

Most of the 65+ girls are either orphans or have been removed from their homes by the family court system. The girls, ages 12 to 18, live and attend school within the complex. Once we arrived, we split up into two groups, one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor group painted the interior of one of the residential houses. The outdoor group worked to restore a basketball court.

The day was filled with hysterical anecdotes. One girl had a fascination with my hair, petting my ponytail. Another girl asked Dr. Stephens to tell me “I look like snow.” A few other girls then proceeded to point at me while repeatedly saying “Blanca. Blanca. Blanca.” Yes, thank you. I am aware that I have fair skin and blonde hair.

Despite the differences in skin color, hair color, languages, and nationality, we savor the flavor of Chile.

Lauren


permalink written by  SantiagoFellows on May 13, 2010 from Santiago, Chile
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Day 5

Santiago, Chile


Dear Blogabond,

So much has gone on since I last reported. We have been extremely busy getting further acquainted with the Chilean lifestyle and Friday may have been the most important day as far as the Chilean way of life goes. Our group started out the day with a long bus ride allowed many of us to catch up on any lost sleep. When the bus finally rolled to a stop, we were outside the Agrosuper "slaughterhouse". The slaughterhouse was definitely not for the faint-hearted. Any pasdt expectations we may have had before entering into the house of slaughter were thrown out the window when we walked into the warehouse. The sight that greeted us immediately upon our entrance was the decapitation station. I will spare you any further details and just say that it was one of those experiences that you can now say you have had and probably never want to have again.

After our trip to the slaughterhouse, we made our way to the school that the slaughterhouse funds. It would be an understatement to say that we were met with anything other than utter excitement. At times, I felt like a pop star because of all of the excited little Chilean children running around with enormous smiles on their faces. At the school, we met the oldest students in the library and gave them a chance to practice their english. I have to say, their english is much better than my spanish and they are juniors in high school. It was extremely interesting to talk to the students about American culture because they knew a lot about it. We were all very sad to leave the students but they left us with a memory that will always last.

Finally, we made the much anticipated trip to the Undurraga winery. After receiving an interesting talk from one of the winery's knowledgable salesmen, we got a tour of the grounds and I can honestly say, I would not mind retiring to a vineyard or opening one up as a business. The grounds at Undurraga winery were nothing short of absolutely beautiful. My favorite part of the entire winery, however, was underground. Underneath the fermenting station, the winery has a cask cellar that was almost an exact portrait of the mental image I get from reading Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" minus the horror and immurement. The smell of oak casks and aging wine is still resonating in my nasal cavity.

All-in-all, Friday has defintely been my favorite day so far in Chile. Thanks for tuning in and, until next time, stay classy Santiago.

permalink written by  SantiagoFellows on May 14, 2010 from Santiago, Chile
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Day 6

Valparaiso, Chile


Today we traveled a few hours outside of Santiago to the neighboring towns of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Originally we were supposed to go to a copper mine today and Valparaiso tomorrow but bad weather caused us to change our plans and ended up working out nicely, I think we all enjoyed Vina del Mar’s beaches and the opportunity to shop at the street market!

Prior to Vina del Mar, we took a guided tour around Valparaiso, which became the major port town of Chile following the earthquake’s destruction in Conceptcion. Valparaiso has been strongly influenced by English, German, and Spanish immigrants, which was apparent in the architecture, even though much of the architecture was either dilapidated or had been damaged in earthquakes. One of the most interesting things about the city was the fact that each group of immigrants still has their own active fire station in the town. After our tour we headed to the Yacht Club for lunch before taking off to Vina del Mar.

Vina del Mar was absolutely beautiful. It was much more touristy than Santiago and Valparaiso so we fit right in! The boys spent most of their time at the casino, where TJ and Jake doubled their dinero, and the girls went to the outdoor vendors before meeting up for a drink at the beachside restaurant.

A few side thoughts about the day:
1) Do they have a pound in Chile? Stray dogs are about as common as squirrels in the States.
2) What is the deal with cold meat? We were served cold beef and salmon as our starter course at the Yacht Club, gross.

Okay, we’re off to Bella Vista for our last group dinner and night out!


permalink written by  SantiagoFellows on May 15, 2010 from Valparaiso, Chile
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On May 9th the 2011 class of Neeley Fellows will leave Fort Worth for a week long trip to Santiago, Chile. This blog will document our trip and will be frequently updated by Bailey Lang, Lauren Farrelly, Carson Bassett, Faith Anne Pustueller, and Kate Putney.

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