Work and winter

Finally, after a nearly 3 week hiatus, I have been able to get back into my Tolhuaca fluid modeling project! With my week long family vacation and then class presentation on the 15th I hadn’t had any time to work on my actual research investigation. I have been very glad to have created a powerpoint on my project and the things I hope to accomplish right before this busy month of June because I had actually started to forget some of the details! This past week I have been researching/reading more papers on the types of information that can be gleaned from geochemical models to refresh my mind and find new ideas to implement for the Tolhuaca geothermal area. The majority of the papers are from a group in Iceland, dating back to the 1980’s with publications about Iceland’s many geothermal areas. One of the authors actually helped write a geochemical modeling program that takes surface water measurements like element concentrations, pH, and temperature and calculates the chemical parameters of the geothermal reservior at depth, called WATCH. I definitely want to read more and implement this program for Tolhuaca to better understand the processes controlling speciation and evolution of the surface waters.

Today I poured through the phreeqcusers.org website, which is an extremely awesome resource where people who are using the program go to post threads about questions they have, either conceptual or with code development. It is updated frequently and one of the main authors of PHREEQC is extremely helpful, answering many of the questions the very same day they are posted. It has really helped seeing examples and having a pro explain the concepts in a different way than just reading the manual. All in all I am pleased with my progress so far and every day I learn something about the program that I had no idea about before.

Weather & Culture

Today is the first day of winter! How exciting. The shortest day of the year has finally come and now the days will start getting longer again. Although it doesn’t get dark as early as in ND, it’s still pitch black by 6pm down here. The hemisphere contrast is especially noticable: When I’m skyping or facetiming with my family and friends these days it’s been dark for hours in Santiago while in the Midwest it’s super sunny at 9pm, and I’m only an hour ahead! The climate here is so much milder than in ND that I hardly realize it’s winter. While it does dip down into the 30’s at night, most days it still hits 60 degrees F, and some days even over 70 F! The sun really makes a difference and on gross, smoggy days it feels much colder. I am happy to report that the smog hasn’t been bad lately, and apparently the air quality this year is much better than last year. Earlier this week the government did have to restrict the number of cars driving in the city by selecting certain license plate numbers but the smog only lasted one day.

I probably say this a lot, but after living here for almost 4 months I really am feeling better about my Spanish, my disposition, and my progress. I’ve heard that getting over the first 3 months is the hardest part of living abroad and I can see why. Especially after hearing my parents say how different everything is in Chile, which has become (almost) normal for me. I’m super excited to throw my friends in the office a “4th of July party” on July 4th and give them a taste of the food we eat on our Independence Day. It’s definitely going to involve s’mores. I have also become aware of the fact that I was unaware of the “American” traditions we do in the US. We have much more diverse holidays than much of South America in general, as practically all of their holidays are religious with no real annual traditions like carving pumpkins or dying eggs (they don’t do those things down here and my friends are really excited to carve their first pumpkin this Halloween). It’s really fun to show our culture to other people who have never experienced those things before.