On Conversation

Hello. I am checking in again. Life in Valparaíso is ideal. My professors are engaging and I am pushed everyday to take academic risks. Many of my courses are discussion-based and I feel comfortable speaking during class.

In my experience, a large percentage of my learning while studying abroad happens outside the classroom. Earlier this week, Diego, one of my flatmates who studies design, invited a teaching assistant from his architecture classes to eat dinner with us. We cooked Spanish tortilla accompanied with avocado and fresh bread. Carbs. Nacho, the teaching assistant, is only twenty six and seems to know the history of every building in the Valparaíso. My flatmates are socially apt and our conversation was filled with questions about the city that allowed Nacho to speak extensively about his studies.

While the tortilla was settling, we sat on our porch and looked out to the city. Nacho buzzed with excitement. “Mira, esa iglesia se ha quemado tres veces y no ha caído”, (Look, that church has burned three times and has not fallen. “Ese lote por allá era un parque precioso”. (That lot over there was a beautiful parque).

Nacho is a true historian. After finishing dinner, Nacho opened his laptop and guided us through his vast library of personal renderings and pictures of old buildings in the city. We looked at hundreds of contrasting before and after images of buildings we walk by everyday. Although some buildings had a degree of resemblance to their previous state, many of the buildings transformed into entirely new entities. As a collective, we felt many emotions during the slideshow. Challenge pessimism but accept the past.

I spoke briefly with Nacho about Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. We discussed the idea of 10,000 hours. Nacho confidently confirmed he has spent more than 10,000 hours reading, drawing, photographing, and observing buildings in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. Although I think I have spent more than 10,000 hours studying Spanish, I look forward to spending another passionate 10,000 hours. Signing off.