Today, my friend Rachel and I took the micro (little buses that run everywhere between Valpo and Viña) to Colegio Integrity for our oral interviews. We found our bus, told the driver we were going to Plaza Miraflores, handed him our money, and sat down. She turned to me and said, "I feel like such a grown-up!" and I knew exactly what she meant. I live for tiny moments of victory. I also think traveling makes them constantly available. I don't think I considered myself an adult until I was 18 and living in my first apartment by myself in West Asheville, totally unable to figure out the heating unit (notice a theme?), shivering and wrapped in a giant blanket cape, on the verge of tears. Then the gas unit turned on, and I celebrated by putting on my Bessie Smith record, drinking tea, and reading in the bath. I'm not sure if I really know how to live with myself, but I think every time I have a moment that affirms my capability, I get closer to figuring it out. I did well on the written exam and passed the oral interview, so now I get to take advanced classes! This means: 1) I can take the classes I need to transfer and thus 2) I can graduate on time. Graduating is becoming increasingly important to me as I enter my fifth year of undergraduate studies.
Today, we walked all the way from the Colegio in Miraflores to downtown Viña del Mar, about a thirty minute walk along a four-lane boulevard with the river on one side and the hills with all those colorful houses on the other. The street is lined with coffee shops, indoor produce markets, and outdoor restaurants, most of which were empty at 3:00 in the afternoon. We passed groups of girls and boys in Catholic school uniforms who were running to catch the micros and standing around on the corners talking. I really like this city. I'm trying to work out what I mean when I say that it feels Latin American. I will definitely return to this idea.
I register for classes tomorrow, and at the moment, my schedule looks like this: Contemporary History of Latin America, Practices and Discourses of the Contemporary Latin American Narrative, Globalization and Integration in Latin America, Advanced Chilean Culture and Communciation, Advanced Written Spanish, and Chilean and Latin American Literature IV. I will register for 21 hours, which is the equivalent of about 16 hours at a U.S. university. I may drop one class, but we'll see. This burgeoning idea of what I'm thinking of as Latin American-ness will take shape when I start my coursework. I'm so ready to be in school again. Every break seems too long. Why am I such a dweeb? I think it's because I know how much school helps me find words, concepts, and historical contexts for the things that define my experiences. Does that make any sense? I like being able to know why I feel a certain way about a certain thing, and why the things surrounding me are the way they are. I am already learning so much more than I ever would in a university Spanish class, but the fact that I'm here to attend university makes this like an epic double whammy of potential brain expansion.