New Friends, New Realizations


Like last week, this week I had a fairly relaxed time in Santiago. All I did was go to school and hang out with my friends; however, I had the opportunity to hang out with new friends and make some observations.

I know I’ve stated this in a previous blog, but my study abroad program follows the U.S. semester system instead of the Chilean school system (which begins in March and ends in July and then continues from August to December). Because of this, I’ve been attending university with other people from the United States, rather than people from Chile and other foreign exchange students who are integrated with the Chilean school system, until recently.

Around two weeks ago, the international students’ organization at my host university had a barbeque to welcome the new students who were going to start in concordance with the Chilean students. I went in hopes of meeting people who would break me out of my group of USAC students. I wanted to meet people from different places in the world, and I did! More specifically, I met two boys: one from Colombia and another one from Mexico. Well, I did meet more people from Venezuela, France, Spain, and Holland; but these two boys were the ones I spoke to the most.

One of the boys and I became better friends, and we’ve been planning to hang out for weeks because he promised to introduce me to his other friends so that I could continue to meet people from all over the world, but our schedules just haven’t aligned until this week. A couple of days ago he invited me to a barbeque at one of his friends’ apartment. The apartment happened to be in an area of Santiago (the suburbs) that I hadn’t been to, and it got me thinking about how maybe I didn’t know Chile as much as I thought I did.

I only really walk around to places close to my host family’s home, and i’ve always been aware that my host family is on a “nice” side of Santiago, but I wish I had tried to get to know the real side of the city earlier. I now only have roughly a month left of my program and have the desire to begin getting to know the Santiago that most people experience.

Some people have advised the people in my program to stay in nicer areas of the city so that we don’t get jumped, but I don’t want to listen because I don’t want to accept the nice parts of the city as the entire city. Does that make sense? I feel like I’ll be lying to myself and others when I tell them I know Santiago in the future, and I don’t want that.

To my family reading this, who is probably worried about my wellbeing: I don’t think it’s unsafe. For one, people in Chile don’t rob you violently (they sneakily take your things if you’re not keeping an eye on them and you will not notice until hours later), and they mostly target foreigners, but because I am a Latina, I blend in nicely (lol). I also did ask some of my local friends if I’d be fine walking around the suburbs in the daytime and they all said “yes” because of the reasons I stated previously. Generally, Chile is safe.

Anyway, that’s the realization  I made this week. I will probably expand on this next week, but I can’t really say more now since I only had the thought on my way to and from the barbeque. I met a lot more people there and everyone was really friendly. We ate guacamole, carne asada, chorizo, and a bunch of other things that I know by their names because they were foreign to me, but they were all delightful. With that being said, I’ll keep you updated on the new things I discover from being with my new friends and here is a picture I took of the neighborhood in the real part of Santiago:

Thank you for reading my blog and Happy Transgender Day of Visibility <3