Friday, 27 July 2012

More about Chile

Preparations are now complete for Chile (with the exception of actually packing). It turns out there's quite a lot to do, and my pretty busy schedule hasn't helped!

I've booked flights which (surprise, surprise) were pretty expensive. It took quite a lot of internet trawling, but it turns out that the best way to go is with Delta via the US, which then has a lot of implications because of their strict CBP requirements. Weirdly, there are no direct flights to Chile from the UK, and the main options are going via France, Spain or the US.

There's a whole load of admin that has to be done for placements, with forms that need to be filled out for varying deadlines and for different people. Student finance is a trickier issue than usual, given that the tuition fee you pay to your home institution is dependent on your Erasmus status; if you receive over 6 months of Erasmus grant then you are eligible for a full fee waiver, but any less and the waiver only covers half. Then there's insurance, risk assessments, visas, and the paperwork that you need regardless of where you might be. Fun.

I'm also finding out a lot more about Chile, and about what I might like to do whilst I'm out there. I'm determined to travel as much as I can around the continent, and although a Che Guevara style motorcycle tour might be out of the question, a quick trip into neighbouring Peru or Argentina is very much on the cards. Mendoza is across the border in Argentina, and approximately 8 hours drive from Santiago. It's the centre of a massive wine producing region that is pretty famous, and is apparently very different to the less-frequented Chile.

A few of my friends will be in Peru, and it's not difficult to fly up there from Santiago so I hope I can combine a trip to the North with seeing them, just so I can relive my childhood that little bit more (Tintin and the Prisoners of the Sun).

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Chile Confirmed

Today I finalised all my arrangements for Chile: I will be working at Redland School, in Santiago, as a teaching assistant from August until December. The school is an independent British school, and is in the Las Condes area of Santiago, to the east. Las Condes houses many of the foreign embassies and big companies, and is the face of the new, modern Chile, and as such is really safe and pleasant to be in.

The school will provide me with accommodation and some pocket money, and my job will be just like language assistants in the UK: to speak English with students in order to help them with oral fluency and general language skills. I'm really looking forward to doing this, as it'll be a great break from University and a really different environment.

Booking flights is going to be the most expensive part of the trip, with prices around the £800-£1000 mark!

Patagonia "has some of the most dramatic lanscapes on earth"
Whilst I'm in Chile I'm really keen to travel as much as I can. Chile itself is very diverse, because of it's weird shape, but this also makes it very difficult to travel internally. The rail network isn't great, and it seems that its either the cheap and slow option (buses) or the fast and expensive (air) if you want to get around. Valparaiso looks really interesting, and so does the Central and Southern areas of the country. Chile's share of Patagonia is said to be completely different to Argentina's, and is much less populated and developed.

Chile also shares an absolutely huge border with Argentina, stretching all the way down the Andes, and I'd like to visit some places just across the border, as well as further into Argentina itself (Buenos Aires...?). Also, if I have the time and money the rest of South America is tantalisingly close!