¡Felicitaciones! You got placed with the lovely Laura as your mama this semester. Here are some things that I hope will help you along on your journey with not only this family but also your study abroad experience:
Mama is still pretty new to CIEE, so she doesn’t always understand things that go on. If plans change or anything, make sure to explain things to her because she has a lot to keep track of. She’s a wonderful woman who loves being a mother, so be ready for plenty of motherly advice!
Take advantage of everything CIEE has to offer. There are various trips and classes and they are all things that you’ve paid for to be here, so use them! That includes tutoring sessions, Rabuco, and renting camping equipment.
The metro was the best option for me for getting around the city, mostly because I get motion sickness so easily. However, sometimes buses and colectivos are the way to go, especially if you need to go to the mall or you don’t want to walk up Camino Real.
Along with that, don’t be afraid to look stupid. You are not the first gringo to make this mistake, and you surely won’t be the last. If you get into the wrong colectivo, say the wrong thing, or even pay too much for something because someone scams you, don’t feel too bad about it. It’s a learning experience, and you aren’t always going to be perfect.
Take some time to travel around. Not only near Valpo/Viña, but also the whole country. Chile is beautiful, with deserts in the north and glaciers in the south. Take advantage of everything Chile has to offer. Also, don’t be afraid to go to other countries. Who knows when you’ll be back and able to travel South America?
This is going to be the greatest adventure of your life thus far. Take advantage of everything you can, and ¡Disfrutelo!