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Gap Year Abroad


Desierto de Atacama


El Desierto de Atacama was an amazing trip. In the northern most part of Chile we were able to explore miles and miles of incredible landscapes including mountains, caves, canyones, and salt lakes! 

DSCN0556and see flamigos in their natural habitat :)



DSCN0530After watching the sunset with my feet hanging over a canyon, I was able to appreciate the fact that the Atacama desert is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 





In September we were able to travel south to Puerto Montt and the Region de los Lagos, the very northern part of what is considered Patagonia. After taking various tours around the region we were able to see the incredible landscapes and national parks Chile has to offer. 


On our tours in Patagonia we were also able to visit the beautiful Archipelago de Chiloe! Chiloe is known for its distintive folklore, mythology, and cuisine. Here we enjoyed fresh salmon and tour the beautiful Archipelago while learning about its rich Spanish and Mapuche (Native Chilean) culture, and the myths and legends of the Mapuche. 10659279_721668321216442_6484519279975269417_n

 After a week in Patagonia we arrived just in time for Fiestas Patrias in commemoration of the proclamation of the First Governing Body of 1810 marking the beginning of the Chilean Independence. The actual dia de independencia is September 18th, however, unofficially the celebration lasts all weekend long with traditional food like empanadas, barbaque, and terromotos, and traditional dance called the "Cueca". 




To catch you all up... August was an exciting month full of new experiences as I got to know the cities of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. I was so lucky to have been placed with such a great host family with two host sisters close to my age to help me adjust to life here in Chile. I've also enjoyed getting to know my Gap Year Abroad group (in photo above) and other students from the Universidad de Vina del Mar (UVM), the University I've been studying at. Starting in August I have been taking five different classes. Three of which are designed to work on my Spanish. I have one class that focuses on communication, another that focuses on grammar, and another to work on getting rid of my "gringa" accent. So far I have been loving my classes! It's so interesting to have Spanish classes in which not everyone in your class speaks english as their first language. In my class of 8 we have students from the United States, Germany, France, and Finland. When learning vocabulary, instead of just writing the English word next to the Spanish word, we instead have to describe it in Spanish so that every student understands. This has been such an interesting way to learn and it has been so cool learning about the different cultures in Finland, France, and Germany as well as here in Chile!



Hello everyone! My name is Jamie Maddox. I am 18 years old and from Prairie Village, Kansas. In May I graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School and before attending the University of Kansas in the fall of 2015, I wanted the chance to travel the world and improve my Spanish! Some of my interests include; sports, reading, baking, and spending time with friends and family. For the past couple of months now, I have been living in Vina Del Mar, Chile, and I have been having a blast! Though at first it was difficult adjusting to living in a foreign country, I was lucky enough to have a wonderful group of friends and a host family to help me through! Because of technical difficulties I am just now getting by blog set up, and I look forward to sharing my experiences here in Chile with you!



CONCÓN! A city maybe 30 minutes out of Viña, that is famous for its beaches that are perfect for surfing! The group went there for some TLC after a long week of classes and volunteering.

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New Friends!

Our day grip to Valparaíso! Spent the day exploring around this beautiful city, its full of murals and incredible views! This is my friend John! He is also a part of the CIEE group here in Chile

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A month in Chile, and I finally feel like I belong! I have learned all the cultural cues that I need to know, for example; when greeting people, a kiss to the cheek for everyone in the room! It takes a lot longer to start a conversation because every person who comes in, has to get a kiss! I like it though, its more community based than a simple handshake. I have my routine set here, and I can get around fairly well! Although, this week classes were on a different schedule because of the recent earthquake here in Vina!

I now know the true definition of adrenaline rush, this earthquake “temblor” here was crazy! I was just laying in bed, and the bed started shaking and things in the kitchen started falling off the shelves, it was just like the movie! It didn't last very long at all, but i was shaking after, but it was so much fun!

After, everyone checked in on eachother! It was awesome to see all the neighbors yelling up the stairs “ is everyone okay?” and all the extended family calling to check in! It really shows the sense of community here in Chile, it is incredible!

The earthquake actually caused damage on some of the buildings here, the University building that I take my classes at, has been closed all week because the second floor ceilings feel in! I have had classes at two different campuses around the city this week, but it has been interesting to take classes at other campuses!

I have lots of pictures, and I don't know if they are connecting to my posts, but I will try my best! I'll keep updating all you guys back home!

- Ciao!


Day Trip to Valpo!

This is the entire CIEE Chile and Spain group! We needed a group picture! These guys are my family here, I love every single one of them!

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Only Three Weeks

I have been in Chile for three weeks, and this country is beautiful, I love it! People who live here are amazing. My first impression of the Chilenos, was that they have pride in their country and have a sense of friendliness that is hard to find. These three weeks have passed by very quickly, as I begin to know the city of Viña Del Mar, and where I belong in all this chaos I call my life at the moment.

I am living with a family for the next six months, and  as I  get to know them more and more each day, the more I love them.  live with my mother, her name is Maru, and her daughter (Francesca) who is sixteen years, and her other son (Christopher) who is thirteen years old. Maru has another son who is twenty two, but he works, and does not live with us. I'll tell you a little more about them!

I'll start with Maru, my mother here in Chile. Maru works at an insurance company, and loves shopping, which is a great thing! We go to the mall at least three times a week!  Each morning makes lunch for everybody. Fran, Cristobal and me. Along with dinner, even if she is not there! Maru is loving and hardworking, she treats me like one of her own. She puts her family first before anything else. She always knows what to say when you need someone to talk to. This family is very close, but very welcoming at the same time.

Fran is the typical sixteen year old girl!  She spends time with her ​​friends after school and I can hear them laughing in my bedroom! She is very smart and always helps me with my Spanish, she calls me her “hermana gringa”  She is just like her mother, compassionate and sincere.

Finally Cristobal, he is in eighth grade, and his only love is handball! He is so cute! He is always joking, he loves cursing in English, because he knows that I understand, but his mother doesn’t.

Overall, my stay in Chile has been positive! I went to Valparaiso three times  and I love to explore Vina with friends. However, it feels like a vacation, and sometimes I forget that this is my life for the next few months! , but I know I'll have an amazing time with my family and new friends!

I have started classes, and am beginning to have a regular routine here in Chile! I have made so many new friends, some international and some who have lived in Chile their entire lives! The classes are just like the spanish classes in the states, except everyone actually speaks in Spanish while in class.

I am starting my volunteering this week, at the hospital for disabled children and the elderly. I am very excited to start, and really finalize my schedule! I think the most difficult part was in the beginning trying to register for classes at the University here along with getting situated in a new country! After about three weeks, classes have started, and volunteering has started and now I have a routine. That makes it easier to handle the culture shock of moving to a different country for a semester!

Yesterday, there was an earthquake! It was the first one that I have ever been in! It wasnthuge, but just like the movies when evrything in the kitchen falls, it was exactly like that! It was so exciting! I will be attatching pictures on this post, if I can figure out how!  The pictures here are from three weeks, new friends and places! I will be writing more frequently now, because my life has calmed down a little!


1st of Many!

Hi! My name is Dana Lamb, I am 17 years old and born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. I will be leaving for Chile on the 29th! I am stoked to start my gap year adventure, and appreciate the chance to share my experiences with all of you! Here is a little about me; I just graduated from Fairview High School in May, and I decided to go on this gap year because it will be a perfect chance for me to figure out what I really want to do with my life, and in all honesty, I couldnt pass up the oppurtunity to travel for an entire year! I have been working with young children for  three years now, and this year I worked for the after school care at the local elementry schools. In my free time I play tennis and spend the remainder of my time with friends and family. I love being outdoors and I consider myself to be outoing and fun! I cant wait to meet everyone in Chile however, it will definitely  be a bittersweet goodbye! I am looking forward to sharing with my first impressions of Chile, and I will of course attatch some photos! Talk to you then!


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