Where in the world is Shilpa Darivemula?

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By Shilpa Darivemula

Is it weird that everyone in Chile reminds me of Alvaro, the Chilean T.A. from Union?

Well, it is true!

There was the angry man who met me at the immigration desk and made me pay entrance fees that no one else seemed to be paying (that may also be because I was in the wrong line), the lovely lady at baggage claim who directed me to the TRANSVip counter and said something in really fast Spanish that I assumed meant that this taxi was taking me to Viña Del Mar (it didn’t—it dropped me off three kilometers away at the TurBus station where I had to figure out how to buy a bus ticket to the right city), the taxi driver who hesistantly let me borrow his cell phone to call my host family to let them know of my arrival, and the kind Chilean businessman who made me promise to tell everyone in America that Chile is the best. Jokes aside, everyone in Chile seems to have Alvaro’s demeanor: really nice, helpful, and smiley. And the sun is magnificent!

I fell asleep on the ride from Santiago to Vina Del Mar and woke up thinking I was back home several times—that I had imagined it all. I had to keep pinching myself, reminding myself that what I had planned for so long was finally happening!

As we approached Viña, the amount of greenery significantly increased and the houses seemed to be stacked up one on top of the other up the side of the mountains.

I was greeted by my host family, Sr. Raul and one of the residents, Melissa, at the bus depot. I was really proud of my Spanish navigational skills until I heard Melissa (or La Mel as she is called) speak. She is a French teacher at the university de Viña del Mar and her Spanish is nearly perfect! She seems to be very close with the family, Sr. Raul and Sra. Maria Rosa, and seems to know the city like the back of her hand. She took me down into the city on a street called Valparaiso , where I bought everything I forgot —like tea, toilet paper, soaps and the works.

To my dismay, my adaptor did not work either, so I am currently using the family’s desktop computer. The keyboard has an ñ on it, which is really cool and is also really distracting.

I am a little ashamed of my Spanish right now, but I think, or at least I hope, it will get better. Like I said, everyone in Chile has Alvaro’s kind and awesome personality.

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