20 May 2015

Atacama

But in the desert, in the pure clean atmosphere, in the silence – there you can find yourself.
― Father Dioscuros
I have had very limited experiences related to deserts. My grandparents lived in Phoenix when I was too young to realize the landscape I was walking through was different than lake-ridden Minnesota. 15 years later, I had to spend the night in Phoenix due to a delayed flight and a missed connection, and I though remember noticing a cactus next to the hotel the airline set me up in, that was my entire impression of the area. My first real desert experience was during my sophomore year of college, when I went on a two day trip to eastern Oregon. I remember hiking along a desert plateau alongside some shrubs by day and laying on the dirt to take in the stars by night. It was beautiful, peaceful, and a reminder that the earth is diverse and that beauty exists even in desolate places.
This past weekend I went to the driest and most desolate of deserts in the world with my program: the Atacama Desert, located in northern Chile. The desert is so dry that parts of it haven’t had any recorded rainfall since the Spanish conquered the area in the 16th century. Due to its combined dryness and lack of cities, it’s also known as one of the best places in the world to see stars, and houses some of the world’s most powerful telescopes and observatories.
The trip was magical. I was surrounded by beauty: beautiful landscapes, beautiful people, and a beautiful break from my routine. It was relaxing, enlightening, and left me awestruck. I think the common denominator of the highlights of the trip was the overbearing presence of the sky.
The desert, when the sun comes up…I couldn't tell where heaven stopped and the Earth began.
― Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) 
On Sunday morning we left our hostel at 5:30 AM to travel to El Tatio; which, at 15,000 feet, contains some of the highest altitude geysers in the world, and is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere. Our goal was to get there before sunrise, so that we could see the light hit the steam from the geysers as the sun rose.
P1030127
It was beautiful. Cold (about 15 F), but beautiful. The sky slowly changed from dark grey to bright blue, and the steam suddenly appeared white in the sun. Almost as immediate as the changing color of the steam was the warming of the air, which started to heat up and we began stripping off the layers upon layers we had been wearing. We continued to warm up by eating hard boiled eggs cooked in the geysers themselves and drinking what may have been the best nescafé of my life (rivaling the nescafé I drank in somehow-warmer Patagonia).
Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way.
― Terry Pratchett, Jingo
We also managed to see two amazing sunsets. The first was on Saturday, after we had spent a couple of hours exploring the Salar de Atacama; the third largest salt flat in the world. The salt changed from white to grey as the sky darkened, and the mountains in the distance began to reflect the pink from the sky. The flamingos enjoying the briny waters of the lagoons in the salt flat continued to feed as the sun went down, and a single mountain was silhouetted as the sun disappeared directly behind it.
flamingos in flight
flamingos in flight
sunset at el salar
sunset at el salar
The second was on Sunday, seen from a vantage point hiked up to in the Valley of the Moon. The valley is named so for its resemblance to the terrain of the moon, which is so similar that NASA has used the valley to test rovers and practice projects in the past. We were told not to watch the sun itself, but instead look east and watch the changing colors of the mountains. It was incredible.
the progression of colors as the sun set in el valle de la luna
the progression of colors as the sun set in el valle de la luna
When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel that you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.
Kalpana Chawla
Almost all of our group went out after dinner on Thursday to find a dark spot to lie back in and look at the stars. It didn’t take more than ten minutes of walking away from our hostel to find almost complete darkness, and as we spread out along a river bank it was hard to feel like it was all real. The milky way (la vía láctea, in Spanish) was bright and obvious, and as I laid back in the sand the same way I did in Oregon almost two years ago, and in South Dakota almost two years before that, and in all my trips to the Boundary Waters and in all of the moments I’ve been lucky enough to find such darkness, I was reminded again of how small I am.
On our last night, I went on a tour to a nearby observatory with a large chunk of my group. We were given access to one of the largest telescopes (open to the public) in the desert. The guide started us out by pointing it at Jupiter and showing us its rings and some of its moons. He continued, showing us another galaxy, a nebula, a black hole. It was difficult to wrap my mind around what all we were seeing. He finished by showing us Saturn, whose ring was clear and made the planet look just like the glow-in-the-dark Saturn that kids put on their ceilings alongside glow-in-the-dark stars. Once done with the telescope, we were given a presentation about the sheer vastness of the universe. He showed Earth next to Jupiter, Jupiter next to the Sun, the Sun next to a series of bigger stars next to our galaxy next to our cluster next to all of the observable universe. Then he started talking about he possibility of observable universes. To top it off, we went back outside and he showed us constellations and shapes and another galaxy visible to the naked eye. It was a humbling experience, and one that I’m obviously still thinking about three days later.
Once again there was the desert, and that only.
― Stephen King, The Gunslinger
The sky was not the only beautiful part of the experience. We went for a number of hikes, through a mountain range formed by the deposition of minerals due to evaporated rain, up a hill overlooking an ancient fortress with a 360 degree view of the area, to a viewpoint over Death Valley and up some lookouts in Moon Valley. The desert was vast, empty, with few plants and lots of dirt. Somehow there were colors everywhere: slight variations in the color of rock, bright colors in the sky, and the few plants not trying to hide themselves at all. It was beautiful, and unlike anything I’d ever seen before.
Pukará de Quitor, a pre-columbian fortress
Pukará de Quitor, a pre-columbian fortress
the view from the hike near Quitor
the view from the hike near Quitor
This trip gave me a lot of time to think, and a lot to think about. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done here. I’m amazed that Chile can include so much diversity, from the Atacama desert in the north to Patagonia in the south. There’s still so much of it I want to see!
As always, email me with any questions about Lewis & Clark! My email is rekidder@lclark.edu
Rebecca

10 May 2015

Hola hola!

Hello readers!

While everyone else just finished up their school year (including graduating, for some!), I'm still here in Chile and am in the middle of midterms!

That means you get another whole two months of updates from me!

My program ends two months from today- July 10. My dad and sister are coming down the next day and I'm going to show them around Valpo for a few days before heading off to Peru with them to see Cusco and Machu Picchu.

But until then, I'm busy with school and travel and everything else I'm doing while I'm here. Right now, it's midterms. Last week I had an essay in my culture/communication class worth 30% of my grade, and two days later I had a presentation in the same class worth 40% of my grade- which was a little bit stressful, because we've had very few other graded things throughout the semester. But both went well and now the worst of it is over!

On top of that, I have a test on Tuesday in my contemporary history class that's pretty much our first real graded assignment of the semester. I'm pretty stressed about it, but am well on my way with studying.

That's one of the biggest differences I've noticed between school here and in LC. Even though the bulk of my grade in my LC classes has been from my tests and essays, most professors also give readings and smaller assignments almost every class to help keep you on track in your learning and to add to what you talk about in class. Here, you go to class and occasionally have a test or project that's worth a large section of your grade, and rarely is there other work. My history class has had a lot of readings, but it's also all gringos and taught more similarly to what I'm used to. My culture/communication class is somewhere in between- we generally have about one reading outside of class for every three classes, plus our big presentation and the occasional essay. A little bit further down the spectrum is my "urban spaces" art class, where we have readings and assignments but have yet to see any grades on any of them. I have absolutely no idea what my grade is. It's really stressing me out, but based on how laid back everyone is, I don't think it should be. Then, on the complete other end of the spectrum, is my camping techniques/outdoor education class. We have never had homework. Half the students didn't show up until a month and a half into the semester. Everything that happens in that class is ridiculous.

This past weekend I went camping with that class. It was pretty fun, though kind of weird. We met near a plaza in Viña to load our backpacks into the trunk of one of our professor's cars, then all took a bus to a weird camp thing about 30 minutes north of the city in Con Con (also spelled Concón- I've seen it both ways and still don't know if one is "correct"). I think it may have been someone's private property? I'm not sure, but there was a house (with people in it) right next to where we set up our tents. We had a bunch of "lessons" (how to set up a tent, how to pack a backpack, etc) as well as downtime to go kayaking and arranged periods to play group games in.

Most of the games were typical (like where you sit in a circle and make a beat and each person has a number and you have to keep the rhythm going while calling each other's numbers and responding when your own is called), but we did a "team building" game this morning that involved us strapping one of our classmates into a harness and lowering her from a tree branch to grab some candy from the ground... which would have been fine if it was, you know, safe, but we had to tie the knots and figure out the belay system all on our own (with now prior knowledge for most of us) and it could have easily turned out badly. Which it didn't, but, you get my point.

What else made this trip "weird," you might ask? For one, it was for a class where we learn things such as "leave no trace," yet our professors were stomping through the plants and off the trail everywhere we went. Plus there were a bunch of small things- all of the groups independently decided to make pasta for lunch and tacos for dinner. We had a class about using the stars to determine what direction we were facing and my professor picked up semi-dried animal poop and arranged it to show us where the stars were. My tentmates decided to not stake out our rain fly (which is one of the steps of setting up a tent) and we still got full marks on our "tent grade." One group somehow forgot to bring a tent, and food. A guy forgot shoes. Everything was just kind of weird.

It was fun, though, and I feel like I have a few more Chilean friends now.

Besides that, I've been up to various other things! Like visiting Mendoza last weekend, which is a city on the Argentine side of the Andes. It was beautiful. We visited four wineries, went to some hot springs, and got to drive across the Andes- twice!

one of the wineries
A bridge by the hot springs
driving through the mountains
We also had a party last week to inaugurate my program's new building downtown. They held it on the roof of the building at sunset- it was gorgeous. They served us cocktails and hor d'oeuvres and everything felt really fancy.
the view from the roof of the building
That's all I have for this week. Please email me at rekidder@lclark.edu if you have any questions about anything!

Rebecca

28 April 2015

Almost Done and Last Post

Well, this is it. My final week of classes before finals start. It’s crazy how fast my freshman year of college has gone.. Although I had a lot of fun this semester, I am ready to go home and have a break from school for a while. These last few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me.


Last night for instance, I finished up my ten page research paper for E&D. My topic was on the decline of the cavalry in the First World War and how veterinarians were involved in the war. It was particularly interesting for me because I  want to be a veterinarian. Seeing how they operated over a hundred years ago really fascinated me and helped make writing this paper a bit easier. Through a lot of procrastination over the past month, I was finally able to wrap up the longest paper I have ever written. It was a huge moment of relief once I finished.


Other than that, I have only one more presentation left before all my classes are done. It still feels strange saying that. Every time someone mentions that we are almost done I can’t quite wrap my head around it. Where did the year go? Unfortunately, this last presentation, which is for chemistry lab, will be my hardest one. Once it’s over with I’ll be happy, but putting it together will not be fun at all. It will be hard to put together because a lot of the data we gathered do not give us clear results.


This past weekend I really didn’t do a whole lot. For the most part, I just hung out with my friend Mikey playing video games and resting before finals. Next week will be a crazy time. All my finals are three days in a row, starting Tuesday. After finals, I am going to go back with Mikey to his house for a few days and help him with moving out of his house before I go home. As for myself, I plan to get a storage unit for the stuff I can’t take home.

Sadly, this is my last blog post this year. It has been a lot of fun describing everything I do here, and I hope that it has helped some of you out there make the decision to come here! Anyway, thank you to everyone who read my blog this year!

Working on the chemistry presentation. 

A nice day at Lewis and Clark!



-Remington Campbell

Last Post of the Year!

Well, my second year of college is drawing to a close. It's the last week of class, and I just have one more paper, one more project, reading days, and finals. Luckily, the semester seems to be ending on - well, if not a high note, then not a low one at the very least. I feel okay about the last pieces of work I'm turning in, and I don't feel too daunted by the prospect of exams. I've been doing well in Japanese, so I'm not worried about the final. I'm just planning to get together with some of my classmates and study on one of the reading days. One of the fun parts of learning a foreign language - especially one in a small department like Japanese - is that you have the same people in your class every semester, so you can get to know them. Unfortunately, it's not looking like I'm going to continue with Japanese next term. My schedule is a little up in the air, but I'll probably be taking a creative writing course called Introduction to Fiction, two literature courses (one on William Faulkner and one on William Shakespeare) with some of the my favorite professors, and a course in ancient and medieval theatrical literature through the Theatre department. I'm also on the waitlist for Acting, so that might replace something if I get in. If not, my schedule might be a bit too much literature for one semester. I wish I was taking Japanese to break things up a little, but I just don't have room. Maybe I'll take it my senior year.

Anyway, back to my end-of-term musings. The last weekend unmarred by studying for finals was super crazy in a good way. On Friday night, I saw my friend Sam's thesis performance for her theatre major. It was a one-woman show about the Russian folk character Baba Yaga that she both wrote and starred in. There was some really interesting storytelling using silhouettes and a lot of swapping in and out of different accents. It was a truly incredible piece of art and the ending gave me chills down my spine. Of course, it was all the better for having a close friendship with Sam, the star. This has been something she's worked incredibly hard on, and it combined her two great loves of theatre and Russian. I truly believe that she could take this show on the road after she graduates and really make something out of it. I'm really proud of her.

After the thesis festival was over and all the seniors' performances were done, I helped strike the set as a part of my theatre lab class. It was really cool. There's just something about being at the theatre late at night lifting heavy equipment and breaking down sets that made me feel strong and powerful on the inside, and connected to a passionate team of people. I hope to continue to be involved with theatre in other ways next semester.

On Sunday night, I went to my first ever concert. The show was Nightwish, which is a Finnish symphonic metal band, though it opened with two other metal bands, Sabaton (from Sweden) and Delain (from the Netherlands). It was at the Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland, so it was easy to get to on the Pioneer Express bus. I went by myself and had a fantastic time. The pictures aren't great, but I hope you like them anyway.










So, I'm a little exhausted from doing so many late-night things this weekend. It was totally worth it though, and I managed to stay relatively on top of my paper-writing during the day too.

This morning, I had my last day of kindergarten, and said goodbye to my mentor teacher and the kids I worked with all year. The children were so sad to see me go and didn't understand why I couldn't just stay with them! I am going to miss them. It's been really rewarding to see them progress from September until now. They've gotten so much better at reading and writing and just talking in class in general. I feel lucky to have gotten to know them. Best of all, they made me this as a class project!



It was the most wonderful gift.

Well, that's all for this year. I sincerely hope that what I've shared with you has helped you make a decision on where to go to school. Personally, I really love Lewis and Clark and I'm proud to go here. I have so many opportunities, whether they are a part of my English major, or part of my career path as a teacher, or part of just trying new things like working in the theatre department or taking Japanese. Things aren't always sunshine and rainbows of course, but I find that what makes college life the most difficult is what I carry with me and not anything that Lewis and Clark could do differently. In fact, Lewis and Clark does a lot to improve what I carry with me. For instance, there's the on-campus counseling service! That has really done a lot for me this semester. And of course, most importantly, there's the group of friends that I've made here through living in the dorms. Just in case you're wondering, I would say that this is a campus that is very supportive to people who struggle with their mental health.

Well, that's all for now. Overall, I'm looking forward to my next two years here - both on-campus and abroad in Australia. Have a wonderful summer, and I hope to see you at LC! If you have any questions, you can email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.

Best,

Jess


27 April 2015

Lewis & Clark

Okay, sappy post time.

It being April 27, all of you prospective students planning on going to college this coming fall likely have less than a week to commit to a school. The number one piece of advice I give to prospective students is to follow your gut, which I did three years ago when I committed to Lewis & Clark.

A couple of nights ago I was talking with one of my friends on my program here in Chile (who also goes to LC) about how much we love and miss Lewis & Clark. I was reminded of all of the reasons I feel I made the right choice by choosing LC. Let me count the ways...

1. The size: Campus is relatively small and beautiful and is one of my favorite places on Earth. There are about 2,000 undergrad students, and about 500 in each class. This means that I at least recognize almost everyone that I'll be graduating with, as well as a lot of people in the classes above and below me. Even though most people have their "groups" that they hang out with, it's all pretty flexible and for the most part everyone is friends (or at least friendly) with everyone. While at the same time this means it can get hard to avoid people, I haven't really had anyone I've wanted to avoid because pretty much everyone who goes to LC is great. Likewise, a small student body means small classes which means more professor/student interaction, leading me to...

one of many pictures I have of our beautiful campus
2. The professors: Almost all of the professors at Lewis & Clark that I've had have been amazing. They're all friendly, extremely smart, and care about you as a student. They're available in office hours and it's common for students to go into office hours just to chat. I've had professors have students over to their houses for end of semester dinners, send me emails just to ask how I am, and remember details about my life that they could easily forget. Their students are more than just faces in their class, they're people.

3. The student body: I love Lewis & Clark as a collective student body. The students as a whole are creative, caring, compassionate, and eager to move forward. When there are problems, students band together and peacefully seek change. Beyond this, LC students are creative (from leading poetry slams to a capella concerts to sticking plastic flamingos in the trees of the ravine [because we have a ravine on campus]), academically motivated (we have some of the [objectively] best student run symposia in the country), and kind. I always feel so much support from my peers whenever I do anything, even from peers I don't know very well.
ukulele orchestra back in 2013- look at that creativity!
4. The activities: Besides the aforementioned poetry slams and a capella concerts, there's always a ton to do on campus. Plays, sports games, movie screenings, art making, game nights, music (often with live bands), speakers (like Bill Nye or Sonya Sotomayor)... there's always so much to do right on campus.
my ticket from when Bill Nye came this past fall
5. The location: I love the Pacific Northwest. Portland is an hour and a half from the ocean, an hour and a half from the mountains, right next to the Columbia River Gorge, and all around beautiful. Even though it's pretty rainy in the winter, it's manageable- more like a constant misting/light rain than constant downpour. Plus, it just makes the sunny days even better. Spring in Portland is my favorite time of the year- flowers bloom everywhere and it's warm and sunny and perfect. Because it's in such a great location, College Outdoors can take outside you to pretty much whatever climate you're longing for- mountains, ocean, beach, cliffs, desert, rainforest, waterfalls... Plus, campus is only twenty-five minutes from downtown Portland, meaning it's super easy to get off campus if you feel like you need to.
some of the wildflowers of the Columbia River Gorge in the spring, seen on a College Outdoors trip!
6. Portland itself: Portland is definitely exaggerated in Portlandia, but by less than you'd think. It's "weird" (and proudly so), but offers the best parts of any city: bookstores (especially Powell's), movie theaters, a ton of restaurants (and food carts), museums (Portland Art Museum is my favorite!), parks (including a state park right next to campus), concerts, and celebrity sightings (namely Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein).
one of the many places to go in Portland- a glow-in-the-dark minigolf place right downtown
7. The academics: Getting a liberal arts education means I take classes both within and outside of my majors, which is helping me to become a very well-rounded person. Knowing a little bit of a lot of things (in addition to the in-depth knowledge of specific things gained through my majors) means I have a better understanding of the full picture and better understand how every issue is complicated. It also means I have can better relate to other students, professors, and their interests. I've definitely become a better student and thinker through my time Lewis & Clark.
studying for said academics my sophomore year with my friend Daphne (namely for climate science)
8. The community: This is kind of a culmination of all of the above points, but deserves its own spot. Almost everyone lives on campus for two years, and a chunk decide to stay on their junior/senior years as well. This means that you get to know everyone very well, to the point where you kind of feel like a giant family (especially with the people in your dorm). I especially felt this with the dorm I lived in my first year, Akin. Living on campus makes it super easy to go to all of the on campus events, and it's essentially like a year long summer camp with academics and schoolwork. I love it. As much as I love living off campus, I do miss feeling as close to my classmates as I felt my first two years at LC.
part of my floor in Akin my first year, making up "A" signs and pretending we were a fraternity (in reality LC doesn't have greek life)
9. The flexibility and understanding: I had some pretty rough stuff happen to me in my personal life during this past fall semester, and my professors were all very understanding and compassionate. Their first concern was how I was doing, and they all were flexible with their attendance/homework policies for me. I ended up going home for a few weeks, and when I got back my professors all met with me personally to figure out a plan for getting caught up. Throughout the semester they all continued to check up on me and ask how I was doing. I really appreciated it and knew that it all worked out the way it did in large part due to the small size and great faculty of Lewis & Clark.

10. The opportunities: I've had countless leadership opportunities in my time at Lewis & Clark, some of which I've taken up (project leading for Spring Into Action and MLK Day of Service, co-chairing the Environmental Affairs Symposium, leading ukulele orchestra, working with College Outdoors) and others of which I haven't. I've been encouraged by professors to apply for various scholarships, some of which I've gotten, and some of which I wouldn't have applied for had I not been encouraged to. I've been put in contact with potential employers and given opportunities to volunteer around Portland and gain experience working in fields I'm interested in. Everyone at Lewis & Clark wants you to succeed, and there are entire departments (like the Career Development Center and Student Leadership & Service) that help you find and take advantage of opportunities around Portland and the country. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities I've had!
me as a project leader for Spring Into Action my first year at LC
I could go on and on, about the study abroad department and the library and the dorms and the dining hall and the beautiful campus, but I have to stop somewhere and 10 feels like a good number.

The important thing to note, as prospective students, is that these are things that I (and many other people, but this post is from my perspective) love about LC. The same thing that I love could be something that someone else hates. I like being able to know everyone in a small school, but someone else might like the anonymity that comes with a large student body. I like getting a bit of knowledge from a ton of different subjects, but someone else may want to choose one topic and stick with it and not bother with other departments. Everyone needs to figure out their preferences on their own, and go with their gut feeling about a school- if you visit it and hate it, then you probably shouldn't go there. Likewise, if you visit a school and get a wonderful, magical feeling in your gut, then that very well could be the place for you. That said, I would love for everyone reading this blog to come to LC and experience this place that I, and so many others, love so much. My friend's and my conversation ended with us realizing that one of the things we most love about Lewis & Clark is how enamored the entire student body is with the school. Everyone loves it for different reasons, but everyone loves it. Few people tolerate life at LC, because almost everyone is head over heels in love with it.

If you want to hear me ramble more about why I love LC, want last minute advice before committing, or have a funny joke to tell me, email me at rekidder@lclark.edu!

Rebecca

21 April 2015

One Last Visit

With school beginning to wind down, my girlfriend Ava came up to visit me one more time before we both head home for the summer. She got in late Thursday night, so I was able to take the Max out to the airport to get her, and we made it back to downtown in time to catch the Pio back  to school. The next day, while she slept in, I went to the Festival of Scholars. This is an event for juniors and seniors to showcase their theses or research to the rest of the students in the school. While at the festival, I was even able to get information that will help with my biology presentation this week. From the presentation I attended, my group will be able use information about rainbow trout that we learned while there.

All classes were cancelled that day, so it was perfect for Ava and me. After the festival, Ava and I went and got lunch at the Trail Room, which is downstairs from the Bon and offers regular food such as burgers and pizza.  This weekend the weather was absolutely amazing. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and it was just warm enough to sit in the sun and eat our lunch. We were both amazed at experiencing what spring is really like since spring doesn’t exist for us at home because it’s so hot. Once we finished eating, we went out to the gardens by the reflecting pool to lay out in the sun and enjoy the amazing day. It was really peaceful to just relax after a long week and enjoy the sun.

For the most part, Ava and I didn’t do a whole lot this weekend except hang out and be with each other. Most of that was due to the fact that we had already explored most of the tourist places here in Oregon that we could get to by public transportation. Having her and my brother visit back to back weekends has really given me the energy to push through and finish this semester. It’s hard to believe that my first year of college is already over.
Enjoying all the sun!





Looking forward to this week, I have two presentations due this week for Biology and E&D on Wednesday and Thursday, and another two next week. Also, I need to finish up my research paper, which is on the decline of the cavalry during the First World War and the role veterinarians played in it. It has been very interesting doing research on this topic since I want to become a veterinarian myself.

Well, that’s all for this week. I know the deadline for choosing a college is close. Good luck with that. For me, Lewis & Clark has been a good choice!

-Remington Campbell

20 April 2015

Santiago

Hello, readers!

I got back last night from a weekend in Santiago. I've left the Valparaíso area a few times already in the two months that I've been here (to go to Patagonia, as well as Casablanca and other smaller towns around here), but this was the first time I'd left to go to a big city.

Santiago is a big, big city. It has about 5 million people just in the city itself (as a comparison, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar have about 600,000 between them). Because it's so big, it has a lot of things that I hadn't fully realized I hadn't been seeing in Valparaíso, but that I'm used to seeing in the US. There were a ton of North American chain restaurants (especially in the wealthier areas of Santiago), including Denny's, Fuddruckers, and Applebee's. There were clothing stores with big brands like Puma and Patagonia. Most of all, there was green space- and a lot of it. There's a big park right in the middle of Santiago Center called "parque forestal" (forest park), with trees and benches and grass. Valparaíso has one park that I know of, and it's pretty far away. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed walking in green areas- something you start to take for granted at Lewis & Clark, which has an extremely forested, green campus (as a side note, did you hear that Lewis & Clark just was named the US's most "green" school?) The main route that I walk in Valparaíso is a dirt median lined with palm trees on a fairly busy road, that's very rocky and noisy and not relaxing like a lot of parks. Santiago also feels very clean compared to Valparaíso. I think part of it is that, as a bigger city, they have more people available to work on keeping it clean. I think it also rains more, which helps a lot, and they have way fewer dogs (at least per capita), so there's less of the mess on the streets that comes with having dogs everywhere.

I was surprised how comforted I felt in Santiago. It felt so much more similar to US cities than Valparaíso, and like I said, until now I hadn't really realized fully how different my life in Valparaíso is from my life in the US. I still have access to most things here, but it's all different brands and looks different than what I was used to. I hadn't realized how big of an impact that had been having on me until I realized how nice it was to see products and things that looked the same as they do at home.

We went to the city on Friday as part of the program that I'm studying through, CIEE. We were in two groups (split up based on what class we were taking with the program). My class (a history/geography class) started out at La Moneda, the presidential building (but not, as I learned, where the president lives). We watched the changing of the guard ceremony (which was very similar to the one in London at Buckingham Palace) then visited the cultural center inside the building, which had a free exhibit on Islamic art.

some textiles as part of the exhibit
Then we took the metro to La Chascona, Pablo Neruda's Santiago house, to meet the other class (who, as a literature focused class, visited the house while we were at La Moneda). We all took a bus over to El Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (the memory and human rights museum), where we learned about the Pinochet dictatorship and the human rights abuses that occurred under it. It was very powerful. They had a wall covered in photos of all of the people who were disappeared (arrested and then never found, or found dead)- there were thousands of them. They also had an area with videos of people talking about the torture they experienced. It was very intense, but I'm glad I saw it.

Finally we went to the Gabriela Mistral cultural center. The exhibit we were going to see (surrounding the recent history of Chile) wasn't open, so instead we looked at an exhibit with art made from around Latin America.

Most of the people in my program decided to stay the whole weekend, since we were already there. That first night I got Korean food with a few friends (that's another thing I hadn't realized I'd been missing- food from other cultures! Almost all the food I've eaten here has been purely Chilean, and while there are a few Japanese and Peruvian restaurants in Viña, I hadn't seen Mexican, Chinese, Korean, or Italian (among many other cultures) food in this area). 

The next day I went up to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, one of the highest hills in otherwise relatively flat Santiago. The view was amazing. We took a funicular (elevatorish thing, kind of like a roller coaster car that goes straight up some tracks) to the top.

one of the views of the city
After wandering around the top for a while, we came back down and went to a fish market called Mercado Central for lunch. Then the group split up, as some went back to Valparaíso. I stayed one more night with a friend. We hung out at some parks, went to a public art museum, and sat in a lot of cafes.

It was a really nice weekend, and I already know I'm going to go back to Santiago before the program is over. It's very close (only about 1 1/2 hours by bus), and there's a lot to do. I'm glad I went!

Please email me with any questions you have about studying abroad or Lewis & Clark! I know everyone is finalizing college choices right now, and I'm here to answer any questions you might have. My email is rekidder@lclark.edu.

Rebecca