A Quieter Week – 1/10/18

Hello! One again, this is a late update. We had a busy(ish) weekend and the last week at school as been slightly hectic as 4th grade, our students, are preparing for their Movers exam. As such, I’m only finding the time now to post this very brief update for the week of 24th September.

Our week of workshops went by generally smoothly, with our focus being hair colour and eye colour. The children really enjoy playing ‘splat’, where we call out a hair colour or eye colour and the first person to hit the correct flash card wins the point for their team, when they understand the instructions. The first few times we play the game there’s always a bit of confusion but once they get into it it’s a lot of fun.

Something key that happened this week was that I had a day of workshops solo, as Emily was ill and didn’t come into school. While it was scary at first and some things didn’t quite go to plan, I’m really proud of myself for actually doing that (a few months ago I wouldn’t dare lead a lesson alone so I think my confidence has gone up).

In preparation for Music Week at the school, I was invited to a music workshop after school on Friday by Filipo, one of the music teachers. The students were preparing for their day of concerts on the following Tuesday (more on this in my next blog post), so I got to watch them practice the theme song of ‘Gravity Falls’ and a German song from the 80s that I can’t remember the name of. Angie also came along to help the ukulele section of the band.

After the workshop finished, Filipo gave Angie and I a lift back to her flat, which she shares with Nicolas and Estéban (they’re all childhood friends). We ate empanadas for once, and later met up with Nicolas, Emily (who had gone into the city early) and Angie’s friend José. We spent the evening in Bellavista before getting Pizza at 2am and going back to their flat. It was a lot of fun but exhausting (I was the first person asleep).

On the Saturday, Emily and I went with Angie to meet her friend Jackie (the main reason we went into Santiago). We met up in Barrio Lastarria and had lunch at Wonderland Café (a place I only realised was named after ‘Alice in Wonderland’ when I got there). The café is owned by an English person, and when we got there we were (unfortunately) too late for the English Breakfast but too early for Afternoon tea, so instead we ate bagels (mine had roast beef in it).

The actual neighbourhood is very arty and almost hipsterish. Angie told us that every year in Santiago there’s an art festival where different artists are asked to create something in different areas of the city. While these artworks are supposed to be taken down once the festival has ended, the people in Barrio Lastarria don’t want the murals to be painted over, which is fair enough considering they are incredible:

After looking around some of the smaller shops in the arcades, Emily and I went back to Quilicura. We spent the Sunday relaxing and planning for the week ahead of us, as it was our last full week until the Movers exam (at the time which I am writing this the exam is now tomorrow…)

Another exciting update! If you didn’t know, Mónica became our host literally the night before we met her, and as such wasn’t completely prepared for us. This meant that for the first month of us living in Chile, Emily and I were sharing a bed. While it hasn’t been the most horrible experience of my entire life and we are still talking, it did mean that we were spending literally every second of every day next to each other. So, I am very happy to announce that we now have separate beds! Thrilling, I know, but it means that we now have our own ‘areas’ in a sense and we are also now more than 1m apart from one another for a large period of the day. Sleeping in my bed for the first time also made me realise (or really think) that this is a long-term situation, and that I am actually living here for the next 11 months. Having this realisation at 11pm on a Monday night isn’t exactly ideal as it does send you into a bit of a panic, but there’s something comforting in knowing that your place in a family has been made more permanent.

That’s all for this short update! My next one should be longer, Emily and I went to a lot of the Music Week events and I have a lot of photos to share!

Until then,


‘Breakfast is Breakfast’

‘Breakfast is Breakfast’, According to my Stomach

‘Breakfast is breakfast’: that’s what they all say,

But I’ve never had breakfast this way.

An earlyish start at six in the morning,

I’m already growling – breakfast is calling!

We take a trip down the stairs so she can go to the loo

And hear Mónica in the kitchen making breakfast for two.

The smell of toasted hallulla fills the home,

But she goes back up the stairs and I begin to groan

After dressing and packing she leaves the house,

It’s 7am and as quiet as a mouse.

As she walks to the bus stop, streets come alive

Quilicura is awakening and the air feels dry.

In the mists of morning the mountains stand tall

Shrouded in mist, they’re see barely at all.

At the bus stop she stands with Mónica and Emily

But no breakfast yet and I’m grumbling dejectedly.

The 307 arrives and she tackles the turnstile,

She manages it (just about) and sits down for the ride,

On the journey she watches workers and children,

Whilst I’m preoccupied with what will be eaten.

We pass buses to the centre packed full with people

And ferias set up with fruit and veg of the season.

The bus ride is bumpy, twisty and turny,

We’re almost at school and I’m terribly hungry.

We jump off the bus at around twenty past seven,

All the shops smell like bread, am I in heaven?

On the walk to school the sky gets lighter,

The fresh air is calming, I feel a bit brighter.

I gurgle again as we enter the gates,

The school day has begun and it’s not even 8.

Saying her goodbyes to Mónica, she enters the staffroom,

And all I can think about is how I want food.

The hello’s in Chile seem frequent and endless,

While she hugs and she kisses, I get restless.

The kettle has boiled and we’ve all sat down,

She opens our breakfast and Elisabeth’s jam is passed round.

There’s hallulla with ham, chocolate milk and a pear,

Tuck in! I roar – no need to take care!

So she sits and she eats with her new English Family,

I’m finally fed and can face the morning happily.

Fiestas Patrias – 23/09/18

Evening all! Today marks one month since Emily and I started working at Undurraga, which is completely mad as it has passed by so quickly. Today’s post is a summary of what we did during the week of dieciocho.

In case you didn’t know, dieciocho (18th September), is a commemoration of the proclamation of the First Governing Body of Chile in 1810, thus marking the beginning of the Chilean independence process. It is a massive celebration that lasts 3 days for most people every year, however we had a week of holiday time – and boy did we pack it full of things to do! It was a blast, and really interesting to see how the Chilean people celebrate – Mónica’s favourite saying about things like this is ‘comemos, tomamos y bailamos’, which translates as ‘we eat, we drink and we dance’ and is pretty much all we did last week.


Emily and I were originally meant to go to a Fonda in Pudahuel, a neighbouring commune, with Fabian (the head of the English department, usually called ‘big boss’ or ‘dad’ by the other English teachers), however he had an emergency and our plans fell through. On Sunday, Emily and I instead went to the Fonda in Quilicura with Lindsay and Max – but more on that later.

We started our Sunday by decorating the back patio of the house, as it’s where we’d all be eating and the main celebrations would take place on 18th. After discovering I was adept at cutting, Lindsay put me in charge of cutting flag banners, and left Emily with the sellotape and the hanging decorations. Personally, I think we did a marvellous job:

After decorating, we went to a mall to watch ‘Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again’ (with Spanish subtitles) with Max and Lindsay, before hunting for a pair of jeans for Emily.

In the evening, the four of us went to the Fonda in Quilicura. A Fonda is kind of like a market, there were a lot of food stalls and funfair games, as well as a stage where live music was playing and a small area for little stalls. Emily and I got to try the terremoto (‘earthquake’ in Spanish), which is a cocktail made from pineapple ice cream, grenadine and white pipeño wine. We also got to eat our first empanadas with pino filling (ground beef, onion, a whole boiled egg and an olive), which was amazing. An empanada is kind of like a Cornish Pasty, but less flaky (pino is definitely a recommended filling).

Afterwards, we watched a boy group (?) sing a few songs, and also played a few of the fairground games before going back home for the night.


Monday was definitely more relaxed, we were told to have a day of rest before the big celebrations on Tuesday. Emily and I spent most of the day asleep, apart from the evening when we went out with Lindsay and Max (again), to a karaoke bar. We didn’t get up and sing, but we did (try to) sing along with all the Spanish ballads various women were performing.


We spent our dieciocho with Mónica and her family, which meant a lot of people came over for our lunch, which was asado (essentially an assortment of meat barbecued with salad). The part consisted of:

  • Emily and I,
  • Mónica, Lindsay and Miguel,
  • Mónica’s parents,
  • Mónica’s little sister Karina,
  • Mónica’s sister-in-law and her two daughters,
  • Her sister-in-law’s niece and her boyfriend,
  • Karina’s two friends from Uruguay

So there were quite a lot of us! We spent the afternoon eating, drinking and dancing (the old proverb rang true), and it was generally a calm day.

The last picture was just before I was dragged up to dance – I’m not sure I nailed it but I had fun!


On Wednesday, we had all the same people over again to watch the military parade and eat lunch (more of what we had the day before). Although I had another wobble because of homesickness (probably due to it being a time for family and having mine so far away), it was really interesting to watch the parade and hear Mónica’s mother’s thoughts about Chilean politics. The dog unit of the police force also carried around the pups-in-training in bags as they marched, which was very cute.


On Thursday we were up bright and early (unfortunately), as we were travelling to Talca to stay with Nico, one of the English teachers. After a 3 hour-long coach ride – very comfortable as it became apparent we accidentally bought the nice seats – we met Nico and travelled to his house where we met his mum and his younger brother.

After lunch, we went out to explore Talca as well as to buy a cake for his dad’s birthday party that evening. We spent the evening with his friends celebrating his dad’s birthday, and went to bed at around 3am (which wasn’t even the latest time that week).


On Friday, we woke up late and generally spent the day relaxing as pretty much all of us felt rough from the night before. In the evening Emily, Nicolas and I all went on a tour of Talca’s cemetery, which was more interesting and less morbid than it first sounded, as it illustrated the history of the city. We also saw the graves of two people who came from Plymouth, which was kind of interesting (the were buried in a corner of the cemetery though because they weren’t catholic).

Later that evening, we met up with Nicolas’ friend Guga (Gustavo) and went to a bar with them. It was a lot of fun and I definitely have some interesting memories from that night!


On Saturday, we woke up at 12pm (we got back home at 6am…) and had breakfast with Angie, who had come to pick us up as we were spending a night with her too. The thing I miss most about Talca is probably Nicolas’ mum, who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met (I had a really bad cough the entire week and she was very concerned about it. Patricia if you’re reading this thank you for the eucalyptus spray it was very helpful).

After saying goodbye to Nicolas, Emily and I boarded another bus to Cumpeo, Angie’s hometown, about 50km away from Talca. Cumpeo is actually a bit bigger than Hingham, so I was definitely more relaxed and at peace there than I had been in Santiago.

We met a lot of Angie’s family, including her grandparents, who live on the outskirts of the town. Her grandfather grows tobacco plants, and he showed us where he grows them and part of the drying process too.

After relaxing a bit at Angie’s house with her sister, Sofia, we all went to a family friend’s birthday party in the evening. I don’t think I’ve ever danced so much in my life! Not that I was any good, but it was certainly fun to try and dance like the average Chilean. Angie, Emily and I left early (at 2:30am….how early) as we had a bus to catch the next day, but we made more new friends in Angie’s cousins and were given an invitation to return to Cumpeo in the summer.


On Sunday, we woke up at 1pm (I swear this hasn’t happened to me in years), and spent what little time we had left in Cumpeo eating breakfast, and then lunch. Angie’s mum has a restaurant in the town centre so we went there to eat and say our goodbyes before boarding the bus to go home.

Emily and I spoke a bit about this before we left for Talca, but we are constantly astounded by how welcoming and generous everyone has been to us. I made a lot of new friends and fantastic memories that week, and I definitely think we spent the fiestas patrias in the right way.

I think a new blog post may be coming in the next few days. Emily and I are going to be spending most of Friday and Saturday with Angie and Nicolas, which should be fun, but more on that in a few days!

Chao!! (Apparently this is how Chileans spell it, so I’m going to be spelling it like this from now on)

10 Words a Day & Update – 19/09/18

Hello everyone, long time no blog? The last week has been extremely hectic, what with sorting out our ID cards and all the celebrations. Emily and I are currently preparing for tomorrow, when we travel to Talca to spend the rest of the holiday (until Sunday) with two of the English teachers. As I haven’t written last week’s update yet (we were out for most of Sunday), my aim is to write it and post it for Monday, and then get this week’s update out for Wednesday/Thursday. I’m sorry for the lack of updates! I’m not sure what the WiFi situation will be in Talca so my “daily” word lists may be on hold until Monday as well. Below are a compilation of words from the past few days:

  • Chaleco – jumper
  • Manga – sleeve (Emily was looking on the Chilean H&M website for tops)
  • Carrete – party (there have been multiple around where we live)
  • Retirar – to pick up (asking when we can collect our ID cards – in a month’s time, if you’re curious)
  • Pesadilla – nightmare (used to describe what sorting out our ID cards was like – more about that in Monday’s update)
  • Ballena – whale (this is a sort-of insult thrown about in our household)
  • Destrozarse – to shatter (one of the micro doors broke just as the bus stopped which was…interesting to say the least)
  • Recoger a – to pick up
  • Hierbas – herbs (when describing Olbas pastilles to Lindsay)
  • Tener muchas ganas de... – to look forward to (when explaining to Lindsay how much I’m looking to seeing fields again)

That’s all for now, I’m sorry for the late updates but things should return to normal after Talca!!

Lead up to Dieciocho! – 16/09/18

This update is coming two weeks late but here it is! A summary of my third week at the project (tomorrow marks 1 month working at Undurraga!). I remember this week being the hardest as my homesickness hit really hard at the beginning of the week. That being said, I pushed through it with the help of my parents, Emily, and the wonderful friends I’ve made since coming to Chile. Anyway, here’s a summary of my week!


Other than Sunday, Monday was the worst day for homesickness this week. After a little tumble on the bus (I got my ankle caught in the turnstile on the bus and fell flat on my face) and crying into Angie’s shoulder before 8am, I was invited to visit another school with the some members of the school orchestra. The children from the other school we played with were all partially sighted, and they (as well as some of the teachers) played a piece based off of rhythms that were created by a native tribe. I helped Filipo (one of the music teachers) conduct the xylophones, and I learned that in Chile they don’t teach music using ‘CDEFGAB’ but instead using ‘do re mi fa so la ti do’. Pretty interesting!

Afterwards, the two groups of children played a piece of music for the other, and we were given a tour of the school by some of the children who had been playing in the orchestra. Considering my homesickness partially stemmed from not having music in my life since I came to Chile, this was definitely an amazing way to spend part of my day. I’m hoping to join the school orchestra too, I just need to find a violin!

Once I got back, I helped Emily (who had braved doing a workshop alone in the morning whilst I was out) with the last two workshops.


During the day, had our workshops with the 4th grade again. As this week was part of the run-up to dieciocho, some of the music teachers and students were playing in a band during break (I swear music teachers are some of the chillest people around):

Tuesday also marked the 45th anniversary of the coup d’état in Chile, when Pinochet overthrew the government and the 17 year-long dictatorship began. In remembrance of all those who were killed or forcefully ‘disappeared’ by the government, Mónica, Lindsay, Emily and I lit candles on the doorstep.


I think Wednesday was the most peaceful day of this week, from what I can remember! I finished the decorations for our workshop (at the moment), the room definitely feels more like ours now!

I’m really proud of what we’ve done so far, and I think it really helps in the workshops!

Thursday and Friday (the absolute worst days of this week):

Ah yes, Thursday and Friday. If you’re a future Chile volunteer reading this in years to come, please listen to me. Sort out your ID cards as soon as possible. Since you have to declare you’re in Chile within 30 days of arrival (we had until the 23rd September to do this), Emily and I ended up rushing this week to get it sorted, as the following week no one was working until the 20th, which happened to be the day we were going to Talca (spoiler alert). As such, we woke up at 5am on Thursday morning and trudged to the PDI with Mónica, who so kindly gave up most of her day to come with us and help navigate it.

We got to the PDI at 7:30am, and left at 2:30pm. Four hours of queuing in cold weather (when we got there, the queue stretched around 3 of the 4 sides of the block), and then another 3 queueing in the building itself, packed with people wanting the same thing we did: a piece of paper with a stamp on it that confirmed who we were and when we arrived in Chile. What’s more, Mónica had to wait outside for us after we went in and she wasn’t allowed to come in to help us (I still feel utterly guilty about it).

Because we didn’t get out of the PDI until after 2pm and all government buildings close at 2pm, we then had to go into Santiago again on Friday to go to the Registro Civil (RC) to apply for our ID cards. While this initially seemed like it would be a piece of cake – we got there at around 7:30am and thought we would be on the bus home by 10:30 – Emily forgot a receipt we got when we first went through immigration at the airport. This then resulted in us (alone, as Lindsay had to go to university at 10:30) travelling between the PDI and the RC for the next few hours, until 1:30pm. Another piece of advice for future volunteers: do not throw away the receipt they give you at the airport. It is important, keep it in a safe place.

Nevertheless, we (somehow) managed to get to school in time for the dieciocho meal, as Friday was also the last day of school before our week-long break for dieciocho.

This has been brief, but unfortunately I can’t remember too much of what I did or anything funny that happened (I guess this is also a lesson to post on time and write in my travel diary). Tomorrow I hope to post about out dieciocho week and how we spent it. For now, though,


10 Words a Day – 11/09/18

Hello everyone! Today has definitely been a lot better. Emily and I have been planning what we’re going to be doing next week (we have a week off for Chilean Independence), and today also marks the 45th anniversary of the coup that began Chile’s 17 year-long dictatorship. I’ll speak more about that on Sunday when I post the week’s update, so for now, here are today’s words!

  • Recordar – to remind (we needed to remind Mónica to talk to her boss this morning…we forgot, but she remembered so it’s all good)
  • Pasar – to spend (time) (I wanted to tell Mónica we want to spend the 18th with her, but I forgot the word)
  • Mosca – fly (there are a lot around when it’s warm, which is pretty much everyday at this point)
  • Mosco – mosquito (wow we love Spanish and all the different words to describe different insects 🙂 )
  • Pasto – grass (I miss it dearly, hopefully we’re going to see some fields next week)
  • Rueda, Calesita – merry-go-round (rueda didn’t show up on wordreference but it’s what Lindsay said so ?? Perhaps a Chilean word)
  • Enojado/a – angry / upset (I had to pull this one out yesterday when one class was being hellish)
  • Vela – candle (we were lighting candles tonight for the anniversary of the coup)
  • Cera – wax (Lindsay cut the candles in half so we had more)
  • Tiburón – shark (children keep saying they’re afraid of sharks in our workshop and I wanted to know what it was in Spanish)

That’s it for today! Tomorrow we finalising plans, and planning more for Thursday when we go to get our ID cards (wish us luck, Molly and Hazel spent 6 hours at the PDI).


10 Words a Day – 10/09/18

Hola! Today started off badly, but ended on a good note. Emily and I are having a pretty early night (once turned out to be more like siete y media), and before watching Deadpool 2, here are my 10 words for today (on time for once):

  • Rifa – raffle (this word is actually from Saturday because there was a raffle at the school fair/dance)
  • Satisfecha – satisfied/full (because when I said the literal translation, estoy llena, Max laughed at me)
  • Buen provecho – Bon appétit (we learnt this from Angie)
  • Frambuesa – raspberry (we tried this weird crisps that tasted of raspberries…not my favourite, not going to lie)
  • Estuche – pencil case (Emily taught Esteban the word ‘dustbin’ so he taught us the word for pencil case)
  • Trenza – plait (one girl on the bus today asked if I could do one and I had no idea what she was saying)
  • Cinta para el pelo – hair band (this is what I thought she was asking me for)
  • Garganta– throat (I had to ask Fabian how to say this to tell a child that Emily had a sore throat)
  • Olla – pot (Miguel was asking us to watch something whilst he went out)
  • Hoya – hole (this is what I thought he said, which is why I got confused)

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow!