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What to Expect When Studying Abroad: Part 8 (Vina Del Mar)

Updated on November 9, 2015

Study Abroad Experience

The study abroad experience can be the best or worst experience that you will ever experience in your life. There will be nothing like this experience. Most of you will be around 19-21 years old with a fresh passport. You may or may not have traveled internationally before, but more than likely, that international travel consisted of a chaperone of some sort. The study abroad experience is completely different. There will be tears, smiles, and a bunch of homesickness. But you will make friends for a lifetime, travel partners, language skills, and a new found respect for the world.

This blog will consist of a few entries in each blog post, all in chronological order.

A Journal to Capture the Memories

My journal follows my travels from March 1, 2009 to June 27, 2009. This may seem years ago, but emotions never change when you leave the country as a wide-eyed 20 year old in a country where you don’t speak the language.

Places I visited in this Journal:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Iguazu Fall (Puerto Iguazu), Argentina
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Tigre, Argentina
  • Colonia, Uruguay
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Valparaiso, Chile
  • Vina del Mar, Chile
  • Bariloche, Argentina

These journal entries occurred for the Spring 2009 semester with IES: Buenos Aires. I studied through Wofford College. Tip to studying abroad: Make sure your credits are all transferable! Luckily, Wofford College accepted all of the credits through my program that I had chosen, IES.

Just a Taste of a Once Booming City (Valparaiso)

Journal 23: May 12, 2009 Vina Del Mar and Valparaiso

I traveled about 120 kilometers outside of the city today to see Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. I started in Valparaiso, where I first went to the famous docks. At the beginning of the last century, these docks had a lot of business with every sort of export and import coming through the dock. Then when Roosevelt built the Panama Canal, the business of the city dropped. This in turn caused the people living in these hills to progressively become poorer and poorer. Now, all that remains of the once flourishing and vibrant city of Valparaiso is the old, gorgeous architecture. In fact, some of the building standing are over 200 years old (Note: Since visiting in 2009, many of these buildings were destroyed in a tragic earthquake from 2010).

In order to get to the top of any of the hills in Valparaiso, one must climb the hill or stairs or take a life up. I opted for the life. One that we took was $300 CLP each way. It was built around 1976 and was still functioning (even this was destroyed in the earthquake that shook Chile). Once at the top of the hill, you get the most amazing view over the city. I was able to clearly see the naval base, the city and houses on the hills, as well as the docking yard, which was full of massive cranes and shipping containers.

After I took in the unique factors that make up Valparaiso, I moved on to Vina del Mar.

Devastation in 2010, all the photos included in this blog were almost exactly a year before in 2009


A Quick Side Note about Valparaiso and Vina del Mar

Saturday, 27 February at 03:34 (06:34 UTC), having a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale, with intense shaking lasting for about three minute, Valparaiso experienced a great loss. In fact, it ranks as the fifth largest earthquake ever to be recorded by a seismography. The magnitude caused a Tsunami as far as Hawaii and could be felt 500 miles away in Peru. The oldest fishing city lost many great buildings of history that day.

The earthquake triggered a tsunami which devastated several coastal towns in south-central Chile and damaged the port at Talcahuano. Tsunami warnings were issued in 53 countries, and the wave caused minor damage in the San Diego area of California and in the Tōhoku region of Japan, where damage to the fisheries business was estimated at ¥6.26 billion (US$66.7 million).The earthquake also generated a blackout that affected 93 percent of the Chilean population and which went on for several days in some locations.President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" and sent military troops to take control of the most affected areas. According to official sources, 525 people lost their lives, 25 people went missing and about 9% of the population in the affected regions lost their homes

Fishing in a Once Booming Town (Valparaiso)

Vina del Mar 1 vs. Ashley 0

Vina del Mar

In Vina Del Mar. Here I ate the best meal I have had during this entire trip. The restaurant, DiVino del Mar, was right across from a beautiful hotel/casino. I had a ravioli stuffed with salmon, wasabi, and ricotta, and Calamari. To top the meal off, I had a chocolate tort with raspberry glaze. After this spectacular yet rather pricey meal (about $20.000 CLP) I took a stroll on the beach.

It was amazing putting my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, until a huge wave came up and drenched my jeans from the waist down. Mind you, it is WINTER or nearing it at least in the Southern Hemisphere. So I then headed back to the hostel to enjoy my last hours in Santiago.

Journal 24: May 13, 2009 “Cultural Divides”

Cultural Divides

Progressively, I have learned more and more about South American culture. Some things being rather minute, while others are large differernces:

  1. People love to invade your space. They insist on hugging and kissing you when you arrive and leave (This is my bubble, please don’t invade it, I suppose I am more American than I care to realize)
  2. You do not turn right on green.
  3. Men are comfortable carrying cling bags or “man purses”
  4. Dinner takes a minimum of 1.5 hours. People sit and talk for hours, and the check or ‘cuenta’ is only brought when asked for. The waiters do not try to rush you out for a new table in hopes of yet another tip.
  5. People pay for dinner in groups. No matter if one person had a cheaper meal, the check is still evenly divided among the group.
  6. Tips are very few and far between, and if you give a tip it is as if the waiter or waitress went above and beyond their call of duty.
  7. Beer or ‘cerveza’ comes in liter bottles in hopes of having people share the beer and talk over it. This was not the case when young, college aged Americans saw how cheap and big the beer brought to them was.
  8. Taking the bus is not a rich or poor thing. CEOs to garbage collectors use the bus system. It is simply a lot easier to get around in Buenos Aires on a bus.

A Look at Vina Del Mar and Valparaiso

DiVina Del Mar chile:
Mar del Sur, Peñalolén, Peñalolén, Región Metropolitana, Chile

get directions

Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Valparaiso, Chile

get directions

Vina Del Mar:
Viña del Mar, Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, Chile

get directions

Valparaiso, Chile, Once a Major Trade City, but Lost to the Panama Canal


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