Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can't believe it has been an entire year since I hosted my very own first Thanksgiving. As much fun as that was, this year I will be celebrating with my awesome boss and 25 of his delightful friends and family members. Although I'm sad to miss Thanksgiving with my own family, I'm thrilled to be home in a mere 2.5 weeks.

Today brought more news from Teaching Chile. Namely, specifics on what we have to do to prepare for the trip. This involves a very tedious visa process which requires that I submit a variety of random documents, including:
*A medical release form stating I am free of any communicable diseases including HIV
*A police clearance form proving I am not a criminal
*Bank and tax statements showing I am financially solvent. And, since I'm not, this will likely take the form of a notorized statement my parents will have to sign saying they will bail me out of jail. (They also had to do this when I went to Spain, and I remember my mom saying "I'll bail you out of jail once, but only once.")
*About a dozen other items and documents, including some unspecified amount of money.

I then have to appear in person at the nearest Chilean consulate, which luckily for me is in San Fransisco. Nothing like a mandatory trip to one of my favorite cities where several good friends live!

I also found out what my exact dates will be, February 29 to December 19, which is a Friday. I'm hoping I can convince my friends and family to throw their Christmas parties THAT weekend instead of the weekend before, but I realize it's cutting it pretty tight. I may also be able to leave a few days before that, so I'll try to get an open-ended ticket. Chilean Christmas presents next year for everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Earthquakes in Chile

So, a lot of people contacted me about the recent earthquakes in northern Chile. Thank you for your advanced concern that I am headed to a country whose entirety lies on a fault line. I pointed out to my mom that Seattle is overdue for a serious earthquake, Philadelphia technically lies near a fault, and I lived in L.A. Basically I don't feel at home unless there is the very real possibility that I will be knocked to the floor at 3 am by my building shaking and car alarms going off. So far the biggest earthquake I've endured was less than 5.0, so perhaps I am good luck (although the one earthquake I experienced while going to school in L.A. was actually while I was home in Seattle for Spring break, so go figure).

On a more serious note, what happened in northern Chile is quite sad, although it could have been much worse. The country is somewhat used to these disasters by now and a lot of the buildings are built to withstand the shakes. This is especially true in areas that have experienced destruction from a quake before. I will not be living so far north (I'm pretty much smack in the middle) but that doesn't put me at any less risk.

If you've been living under a rock, here's a link to an article about the events:

There were two aftershocks on Thursday, although I question calling 6.2 and 6.8 quakes "aftershocks" - those seem like they should count on their own. So far two people have died, which is of course terrible because the hope is always that there will be no casualties, but at the same time pretty amazing considering there were four quakes measuring over 6.0 in some of the poorest areas of the country.

All in all I'm not any more concerned about my trip. If anything it has renewed my respect for nature. Sometimes it's nice to be reminded that we can't control everything.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Life Unknown

Hello friends and family,

This Web trend could only go on for so long before I cast my own hat into the blogosphere ring. I started this blog over a year ago with the title La Vida Desconocida - the life unknown - but never got around to writing anything. That's (hopefully!) about to change as I gear up for and go on my next great adventure: a 10-month teaching job in Viña del Mar, Chile.

As most of you know, I studied in Sevilla, Spain for four months in 2003. Ever since then I have been itching to live in a Spanish-speaking country. However, since graduating college in 2004 I have had an amazing job working for Apex Learning ( and it's been impossible to tear myself away to do anything else. The timing for this program seemed right to take a sabbatical and, with any luck, there will be a job at Apex waiting for me when I return in December of 2008.

I've used these past few years to focus on a passion I never thought I'd be interested in: education. Developing and managing content for Apex has helped me understand the internal workings of curricula design and implementation, while working as a volunteer ELL teacher (English language learners - ESL is no longer PC) has taught me how to be a patient (me? patient? get out of here) and effective educator. I'm thrilled and terrified at the prospect of applying what I know in a foreign setting.

Working with an organization called Teaching Chile, I've been placed as an English teacher in a university system called duocUC, which has campuses throughout Chile. I'm honestly not totally sure what it stands for, but I know it's associated with Chile's Universidad Católica. It's like really fancy community college which offers 2-year programs, mostly technical but also encompassing areas like ecotourism. This goes to show that you CAN be a university-level teacher with a mere Bachelor of Arts; you just have to leave the country and agree to do it for 300,000 pesos a month, which believe it or not is a full-time salary of a whopping $600. Picture me rolling... This is the campus where I will be teaching:

Did I mention that Viña del Mar is on the beach? Check it out:

I've never lived so close to the ocean and yes, I am ecstatic, even though my aunt Sandy once warned that crackers don't stay crispy at the beach. Viña is Chile's premier tourist destination, with Valparaíso (literally "go to paradise") a mere 15 minutes south, and Santiago about 1.5 hours southeast.

I still have several months left in the U.S. Right now I am in Philadelphia for another 4 weeks. I bought my ticket back to Seattle today, so for those of you interested, I arrive Saturday, December 8 at 11:33 pm. However, I am connecting through Denver, so I hope to be home by Christmas. Special thanks to Jacob Stone for being on call to pick me up from the airport (and for being one of my few friends to own a car - you're all a bunch of hippies). Cross your fingers that Amtrak is, in fact, the best way to transport the few possessions I haven't yet gotten rid of during my myriad cross-country moves.

Once in Seattle I'm still not 100% sure where I'll be living, but I suspect my parents and siblings will get their fair share of me. Shout outs to Anne and Tessa for living in strategic locations in the city, and to my Mom who will no doubt sacrifice the use of her car for me on occasion.

I have been told by the director of the program in Chile that I need to arrive on February 29 (proving that yes, this is a leap year), so I'll have three months in Seattle to pay off credit cards (I'm so close), stress over the status of my Chilean visa, save up cash, start and complete a strenous work project, and party with my peeps. Yes, I just said peeps. I'll also blog during that time which will hopefully keep you interested until I actually get out of the country. Then the really juicy stuff should start rolling in. I hear the Chileans have a tricky accent so I'm looking forward to putting my rusty Spanish w/ faux Spanish accent to work on some comedy of errors-type conversations.

This is probably more than enough for now. I'll update with details as I find them out, and other events I deem worthy, like the December 2 Seahawks vs. Eagles game in Philadelphia I'll be attending. Go Birds! (See what I did there?)

Until next time...