After three weeks

What I have learned about Chile:

There are A LOT of Chilenismos, meaning words that are only used here in this country. Some of them include:

Previa-a pregame before the main event, a discotech(club)



Chachai? -Do you understand?

I have also been doing so much–I think that always being on the go is catching up with me. I should probably rest, but it is my friend Kirstin’s 21st birthday tomorrow, so we will see! We have our previa in a few hours, which will include cervezas and the drink of choice here, Pisco, a type of Brandy native to Chile.

Where I am, the Valparaiso Region, is even a gem within Chile, so I feel so blessed to be here and experience so many things. Some things that Vina del Mar, where I am living, are known for are the Clock of Flowers, which is a clock that works, made of flowers, and Castle Wulff. Vina del Mar essentially means vineyard of the sea and it really is with all of its beautiful naturaleza/plants. I do love it here, and intend to continue to enjoy every second of it!


Street Art

I love how beautiful and expressive the streets are. The walls of buildings are used as bulletin boards, where people add their ideas and opinions. Here is some of the murals I encountered in the streets of Valparaiso. The only unfortunate thing is that you cannot get too entranced in the art, since you always need to be on surveillance while in the streets of Valparaiso.

Also with everyone in Virginia “springing forward” I am temporarily only one hour ahead of everyone!


How do you get up a mountain? Well this is it! In Valparaiso, many peoples’ daily commutes consist of paying 100 pesos (~0.16 US Dollars) to ride one way.

They neighborhoods we went up to have names such as Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción, and each their own distinct personalities:The inner workings of an ascensor behind a glass wall.

An old, unused ascensor that has become just a landmark.

The Beginning

My trip thus far to Chile has included many ups and downs, like the “asensadores” that are like slanted elevators that take people from the hillside barrios (neighborhoods) to the sea-level main city. Sometimes I feel like I am great at Chilean Spanish, and other times I have no idea what is going on. It is weird, I seem to have to switch my brain from English to Spanish and vice versa, as well as often have times where I cannot think of the words I want in either language.  I have already made some wonderful friends from all over the United States, but the native Chileans are still pretty daunting to approach. My friends from University of Wisconsin along with others, have been great travel buddies, and we have been navigating the challenges thus far.

I have survived taking the bus, visiting the beach, and orientation on my own, so I think I am ready for the next challenge: classes. I am taking an Introductory Oceanography class, that is in Spanish, that starts tomorrow. Since this is not an international class I will have to interact with real live PUCV (my university) students. I also start Spanish Communications and Conversations, History of Valparaiso, and Modern Chile classes next week. Wish me luck!

Here’s the best part, pictures I have taken. I am starting with the basics- my house and school:

The church in my school is very pretty. There are also a lot of courtyards with palm trees and flowers in the main school building, Casa Centea.I also am enjoying the house of my mama chilena:

I have decided to dedicate some posts solely to specific categories, because they are just so important for Valparaiso! To come: Asensadores, Local Flora, Arte in the Streets, The markets, and more!

Abrazos y besos,


And I am Off!

Goodbye IAD, hello ATL. Goodbye ATL, hello SCL. I have made it to Santiago, the capital of Chile, after over 20 hours of travel time. I am currently writing this while waiting in Customs. I am tired but excited and look forward to keeping everyone posted! Here are some pictures from travel:

Bye Centreville!Flying over night time Atlanta. Birds eye view of Chile!

Abrazos and kisses

Abrazos y besos.

Hugs and kisses.

Trading in my

US dollars

For some pesos.

Nos vemos

See you later.

No te vere,

I won’t see you,

Pero sabré que estás allí.

but I know you are there.

En mi corazón,

In my heart,

Te retendré querida.

I Will hold you dear.

This is the hardest part,

Esta es la parte más dura.

Hasta la proxima vez,

Mi querida.

Keep up with me in Chile


So I know I have been a bit MIA, (life, what am I gonna do?) but I hope to come back with vengeance, because I am going to be spending a semester abroad in Chile. With that being said, I will be taking a lot of pictures, and attempting to post here weekly. Thanks for all the love and I look forward to keeping you guys updated!

A little bit of background, I will be living in a central coastal city as well as attending classes in Valparaiso, Chile. I will be immersed in Spanish with my classes as well as my host family. Thanks to tripadvisor, here is a sneak peek picture.

Well, it is currently 4 days and 5 hours until I will be leaving, so I look forward to posting again when I leave.

Image result for valparaiso chile

Mothers are everywhere

This past Sunday, we took my mom to her final resting place. It was a long time coming. I took the six hour drive, and suffered insomnia as I tried to sleep after the drive, so I went to the beach early to watch the sunrise.

I think we all avoided doing this, because subconsciously we knew it was like we were fully letting go of her. It was difficult for me and my emotions were rolling like the waves she became part of. I flat out did not want to do it. Losing my mom as a young girl, I did not know how I was going to get through puberty, college, and all the challenges that inevitably would come, without her to guide me.

I still wonder what her advice would have been for me during those years, as well as what it would be now.

You would think so long after, I would have finished grieving, but truth be told I did not even start until about 4 years ago. Everyone has their own timeline, and it took me a while to realize that mine was OK.

I think what finally brought me a sense of relief, was thinking about all of my surrogate mothers. They gave me a peace of mind to let go of the ashes, and know that I was not actually letting go of  my mom or the opportunity for maternal guidance.

I want to thank all of my surrogate mothers. from numerous relatives, to teachers and professors through the years, the soccer mom community, my boyfriend’s mother, and to so many more– of course including my guardian. Even though I have never done it, I can tell being a guardian is rewarding and hard. I know it was hard trying to teach and look after this girl who was so different than you, enjoying science classes and soccer when you played the violin and softball, but who is still very much like you, afraid of confrontation and a lover of the beach.

I want to thank everyone who has loved me as their own, and reminded me that family is more than just blood. I love you, mom and all of my mothers.

And after some contemplation, I finally realized that spreading my mom’s ashes was not an end, but just another beginning, like the sunrise.

That Man


I like this poem I wrote a year back, because it reminds me to take the time to cherish the ones I love and to step outside myself and really appreciate and listen to others. This poem also goes along with the photography theme of the week, perfect pairs!

When I look at him, he looks at me.

That man I could look at forever.

That man has been there for me,

Even when I wasn’t there for him.

He forgave me,

Even when I wronged him.

He loved me,

Even when I could not be loved.

I became who I am

Looking at him

Building me up.

Showing me my worth

While I basked in his.

That man is mine

And I am his.

Poem and photography originals by D. Ngo, all rights reserved for Up Into the Clouds.