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On Saturday I had my farewell party. It was a FANTABULOUS night. We did everything from toasting marshamallows and making s'mores, to playing volleyball, bouncing on the trampoline, having glow sticks, the inevitable - EATING and I can honestly say I left with a bang - we had fireworks as well!
When it came time to have the cake I had iced - as a Chilean flag, I said a little speech that was completely off-the-cuff and it was so embarrassing because I cried. But luckily my attempt at a funny speech worked and I managed some laughs as well.
Host family gifts
Yesterday I went into town with Mum and bought a whole lot of stuff I'd need - like jeans (in a biggish size in case I put on weight X.X ) extra makeup and most importantly, gifts for my host family. We got tee-shirts, jewellery, key rings, pins and a cushion cover and a tea-towel. Mum also bought me some NZ playing cards and a patch to sew onto my backpack.
Visa and visa issues
Finally I have my student visa, and passport so I am legally able to stay in Chile for a year! My passport photo is horrible though. I think if I actually look as shifty as I do in my passport, that I wouldn't be allowed to board the plane!
The Visa issues are with the Visa card we ordered last Tuesday. The bank told us it would take 2-3 working days for it to arrive, then I would go to the bank and get a PIN number put on it. But it still hasn't arrived, one week later. Mum phoned the bank, was put on hold for ages, and finally discovered that the bank hadn't put a digit on the card, so they weren't going to send it to us. They also hadn't told us, and for all we knew, it (an unsigned card) could have been lost in the mail and someone could have been using it). We don't know if they would have told us or not, so luckily Mum rang! The bank is going to courier the card up tomorrow, so I will now have money to use in Chile. I'm just a bit shocked at the slackness of the bank. If we'd been able to get a card from nice, friendly, welcoming TSB bank I'm sure this wouldn't have happened and I would have a card by now.
This has absolutely nothing to do with my exchange, but also on Saturday we went to the SPCA to get one ginger kitten. But two stole our hearts and now we are the adoring owners of Smokey and Max, a grey tabby and a ginger tabby, who are brothers. They have the exact same stripes and markings, just in different colours.
Haven't really started yet . . .
Info on exchanges, Chile and Copiapó
I have been asked some very similar questions by a lot of people, so here are the answers to the sorts of questions that I get asked:
Will your family speak English?
They can all speak English, but I want to learn Spanish, and they are encouraging me to speak Spanish
Do you go to an English school?
I have been advised that I am going to a music school. The point of exchange is to become 'part of the culture' so exchangers will integrate as much as they can. They are not special guests or visitors.
Will you miss your family?
Yes, of course, but I still have to do this. We'll keep in touch
Is your family coming to visit?
No, AFS discourages families to visit, plus my family isn't too flash after 8 hours in a plane, so I hate to think what 11 and a half hours will do.
Is anyone from your school/from your town going as well?
No, but there are 4 other students from around NZ.
Why are you going on exchange?
I want to do something different, experience another culture, learn a new language, and become a better and more worldly person, and use that to help others.
They speak Japanese in Chile, right?
So you're taking lots of warm clothes, because it's really cold there, isn't it?
Actually, Chile spans from nearly touching Antarctica, to nearly touching the Equator. The climate varies greatly, from Punta Arenas, the world's southernmost city, to Arica, the world's driest city. Between that, there are many different climate areas - meditterranean to just plain cold.
How big is Chile?
The population is around 16 million. Four times the population of NZ
Approximately 130,000 people. So around 2 and a half times the size of where I live now.
Is it hot?
Yup. They only get about one day of rain a year, and it's in the driest desert in the world, the Atacama.
And now it's time for some photos! These are from my farewell party.
Don't forget to comment!