This is my first week in Santiago and I would say it has been rough, but that’s good! It means I’m learning :]
I was basically in a daze for most of this week. I am still surprised by the fact that I am here and will be spending my next few months here. Some of my highlights from this week would include getting lost and being confused A LOT. First off, the city is hard to navigate! To get from my home-stay to school and back, I need to walk past multiple streets and take multiple turns in addition to taking a bus. Hopefully in the next few days, I will get used to it. Next, Chileans speak very fast and have their own vernacular that is a little different than what I am used to. This made it hard for me to understand what Chileans were saying for the first few days. An example would be the word “aqui” which means “here.” In Chile, they say “aca” instead. When having conversations with Chileans, I tried to understand what I could and I would say I got the gist of most things? If I didn’t, I would ask Chileans to repeat what they said, to say it slower, or use hand gestures to make sure that I am understanding them correctly. However, despite all the struggles, I am starting to fall in love with the city and its people.
Some other highlights of this week:
THE COLD. Being a native Texan, I am not used to the 35-45°F weather that they have here. I don’t know why but I am always cold for some reason. My hands are cold no matter what season it is (summer or winter). So this weather… it takes some getting used to. I currently sleep with 6 layers of sheets and blankets and wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and a scarf. Mornings are the worst. I have no motivation to get up because it’s so cold. Afternoons get a little bit warmer, but I’m not able to enjoy the weather because I’m in class for most of the day. Nights get to around the same temperature as the mornings so after class ends (around 6), I go straight home: walking very rapidly to the bus stop.
THE PEOPLE. Two words: friendly and approachable. After arriving to my home-stay on the first day, I went to the bank with my host mom. At the bank, a security guard approached me and asked me what my ethnicity was. After responding, he smiled and started talking to me about how much he loved Asian culture. He was so eager and happy to talk to me about his family and how his daughter dated/married a Korean (not sure which because he was talking really fast). In other instances, when asking for directions, Chileans have been willing to help me. Interesting fact I learned about Chileans in my Spanish class: Chileans LOVE to help others EVEN IF they don’t know the correct directions. That means they might tell you the wrong direction just because they want to be helpful. HAHA! It hasn’t happened yet, but I need to be careful.
THE FOOD. So far, everything has been pretty good! For me, it was not very hard to adapt to the food in Chile. However, one thing that still takes some getting used to is eating bread for every meal. Other than that, everything is copacetic. One major difference I noticed about the food is the salads. The salads in Chile are different than the salads in the U.S. Chilean salads usually have only one vegetable (whether it be just spinach, just lettuce or just tomatoes) while in the U.S. we mix multiple vegetables (lettuce, tomato, avocado and carrots) to make a salad.
I will be posting again next week so stay tuned! :]