Thursday, May 10, 2012

Flan and LAN

Today was another busy day filled with lectures, a company visit, and a dance lesson. We woke up and ate the usual breakfast at the hotel before leaving at 8:30am for the University. Today our lecturer was José, who has had a connection to the Plus 3 program for many years. Originally he was one of the Chilean university students escorting the American students, and now he lectures on Chilean culture. I really enjoyed the part of the lecture on natural disasters that have affected Chile; we saw a few pictures and videos of the devastation that earthquakes have caused in the past.

After two lectures on Chilean culture, we ate another lunch at the University. I was sitting with Abby and Kelli, and we saw a mystery item on our plates that Kelli proceeded to take a small test taste of. What we thought was maybe yogurt apparently had a very unpleasant consistency (thanks for taking one for the team, Kelli!), so we decided to leave that untouched. It turned out to be the cafeteria's version of flan. One of the things that we noticed when we got up to put our trays away was that a few Chilean students always are standing near the exit, seeing if there is any uneaten food left on trays. One student walked up to me and asked me if I was finished with my half-eaten empanada. When I told him I was done with it, he didn't hesitate to take it right off of my plate and eat it as he walked away. Jorge told us later that this is completely normal in Chile; food is food, and it doesn't matter that those students don't know us. They'll eat an unfinished empanada if they see one!
Kelli and the flan in the University cafeteria!
Next was our visit to LAN, which is Chile's big airline that is a part of the OneWorld group with American Airlines and other companies from different countries. We were greeted by Luis, an engineer who gave us a lecture on LAN's history and recent developments. After a round of questions and answers, we took a few pictures with the planes and got back on the tour bus to return to the University for our second salsa lesson.
 Kirsten and Abby with Luis at LAN
I love our dance lessons! We learned a few more salsa steps to do both alone and with partners, and we all had fun watching David, our teacher, pick up Carly and throw her around over his shoulder. The dance lessons are definitely a nice way to end the day with a lot of laughs and smiles. Since we dance in a small little courtyard, there are always Chilean students and university staff that end up watching us embarrass ourselves. Today, some Chileans ended up joining our class and dancing salsa with us! Even though they didn't speak much English, they were very friendly and seemed to be happy to be hosting foreigners on their campus. I've found that Chileans in general are polite and extremely patient with us, which I am so grateful for.

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