02 October 2012

Some LC love from far far away.

Dearest LC community present, past, and perspective, Hello!

My name is Sara Miller and this semester I'll be shaking things up here on the "Real Life" Blog by coming to you live from Santiago, Chile! That's right, I'm on my semester abroad. My distance from Portland notwithstanding, I am still a Lewis & Clark-er (Lewis & Clark-ien? what do we call outselves?) in my Junior year. A huge majority of LC students study abroad during their undergraduate career all over the world. I'm super jazzed to be representing us Pios away from Palatine Hill. I'm originally from Madison, WI by the way...

I've actually been here in Chile for over 2 months now. My program started in mid July and obviously a lot has already happened in the months I've been here. I'll do my best to catch you up without writing a whole novel. Let me start by saying that studying abroad is a crazy experience. I don't think there is really anything that can prepare you for it before going.

The very first thing that happened to me upon my arrival in South America was to get an incredibly nasty stomach virus, fall very ill and be taken to the emergency room! Now don't you fret dear readers because this experience taught me some very important things. First, I now posses a fantastic Spanish vocabulary with regards to stomachs and stomach viruses. Second, I learned right away that my host family is AMAZING and really does want me here, even if the first thing I ever did in their home was vomit. Third, and maybe most importantly, even when things were at their very worst and I was lying in a hospital bed in South America with a needle in my hand and a suero (that's Spanish for IV solution) full of liquids and anti nausea medications dripping into my body, things weren't all that bad. I was being taken care of, I still had the ability to describe my symptoms in Spanish, and my host mother had made chicken soup that was waiting for me at home.

Things looked up pretty quickly after my little foray into the world of Chilean medicine and I began phase two of my semester. We moved into choosing classes (which works really differently here, you basically go to a ton of classes to see which ones you like and then register later on) and I managed to pick every single class that wouldn't work for a million different reasons. When I finally had my class schedule solidified, the real fun began. For the past few years, the students of Chile have been protesting and working to change and better the educational system. One of the ways students protest is by going on strike. More than half of my classes started three weeks late because of the strikes. When the students protest, the police show up in full riot gear, complete with armored tanks that shoot high pressure water and also throw tear gas canisters. What starts as a peaceful protest almost always devolves into a confrontation between protesters and police, often instigated by the cops themselves or by people not associated with the student movements. Anyways, the result of these protests is that I have now been tear gassed a bunch of times! Once again please don't fret. Most of the tear gas I have encountered has been residual after the excitement was broken up. I've only ever been directly tear gassed once! We are all very safe here (if you go even one block from where a protest is happening it is life as usual, so the protests are easy to avoid) and it is mostly interesting to be here to see the change in action!

Alright. I just wrote quite a bit there. Next time I'll talk about the traveling I've done so far and you can bet I'll have more to say about the student movement and protests, so stay tuned!

Much love,

P.S. Reading back over all of this I really want to stress that I am ok and having a good time! I promise I will talk about lots more things than vomit and tear gas!

P.P.S. Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Spring! The seasons here in the southern hemisphere are swapped, so winter is just coming to an end!

P.P.P.S If you have any questions or comments at all (regarding my abroad semester or LC) or things you want me to talk about, I'd love to hear from you! My mail is smiller@lclark.edu