10 February 2015

getting ready

I leave for Valparaíso in eight days. Eight days! After almost two months at home, it’s snuck up on me pretty quickly. Because I’m leaving so soon, I’m working on preparing everything to make sure it’s all ready to go by the time I leave.
The most exciting preparation was earlier this afternoon- I had my official "pre-departure" orientation. The residential director down in Chile gave about an hour long presentation via a webinar, then we were given the chance to ask questions. He gave us an outline of what would happen once we get down there (with details about our intensive orientation before classes start), as well as details about some excursions we'll make (including a biking tour of Santiago, and a trip to a "surprise location" north of Valparaíso. He wouldn't give any hints as to where it will be, except to "bring a nice camera").
The orientation was all in Spanish, and I got pretty exhausted just listening to it. I hadn't really felt nervous up to this point, but following along with the Spanish and getting all of these details made it suddenly seem more real to me, and now I'm feeling a little bit nervous. I know it will be great, and once I'm settled in it will be no big deal, but I'm anxious to meet my host family and choose my classes and meet everyone on my program. There are 9 LC students, some of whom I know well and others of whom I don't know at all, as well as about 30 other students from around the US. Not to mention all of the thousands of students attending the university I'll be going to, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. That's a lot of people! I am very excited, though. I've never lived anywhere besides Minnesota and Portland, never lived by the ocean, never gone to a big university- there are a lot of new things I'll experience, but I think I'm ready.
I've been working on other preparations, too. For one, I have been anxiously waiting to get my visa. People going to Chile for longer than 90 days are required to get some kind of a visa, so I applied for a student visa back in the beginning of January. The application process itself was stressful, since it required me to send fingerprints to the FBI, go to the doctor, get things notarized, and wait for weeks for documents from the school in Valparaíso. It turns out that was only the half of it- once I sent it in, I was in communication with both the consulate in Chicago and the honorary consul in Minneapolis to make sure that I was able to pick up my visa here. Yesterday, I finally (!) heard back from the honorary consul, and she has my visa. I’m getting it on Saturday. I’m so so so glad it is all here and ready to be picked up.
Now, I have to pack (I’m going to try to fit everything into a new backpack I got from REI, plus my school backpack and one medium sized rolling suitcase). I really should start that soon- it'll be interesting to try and fit 5 months worth of stuff into that amount of space. I guess when you think about it, though, you really don't need anything more for five months than you do for a couple of weeks.
a google image of Valparaíso, the city where I'll be!
If you have any questions about my program, or about Lewis & Clark, please email me at rekidder@lclark.edu.