The GoGlobal Blog

Cachai? Me entiendes? Got it? Living life on Chilean time.

Cachai? Me entiendes? Got it? Living life on Chilean time.

Being abroad is a big, fat melting pot of every emotion you could ever imagine. From A-Z, this is an all-inclusive, anti-discriminatory category. Some days you feel so many differing emotions that you wonder if it is actually possible to feel so much yet fail to be cognizant of what you really just emotionally experienced. Language, accommodations, city, people, lifestyle, customs, and culture: all foreign to you, yet you’re the foreigner—a backwards and stomach-lurching feeling that is all too real. Ok, truth. But that is the thrilling excitement of existing in a place in which you’ve never been previously exposed to before. It challenges the mind to remember what independence and confidence is, making you realize that, oh yeah, I really can do more than I believed to be true, or even thought possible. Exiting the comfort zone only helps you grow from the inside out, and taking risks and seizing opportunities is only advantageous to you as a whole person.

A month and a half after arriving in Santiago, Chile and I promise you that this metropolitan region has been navigated, cursed, loved, praised, and become a home to this first-time visitor. In this short chunk of life, I have hiked multiple hills, or ‘cerros’, that have allowed me to panoramically view the smog-ridden, yet still beautiful, city skyline; I have attended family barbeques, or ‘asados’, in my own backyard in which, I kid you not, I have not understood one word of the supposed Spanish that has been thrown around—Chilean colloquial Spanish, take mercy on my soul (and yes, I was just standing there like an awkward extranjero looking at my big brothers with doggy eyes of confusion until they explained things to me in what the rest of the world knows as actual Spanish). I have visited all three houses of the lovely poet and Nobel Prize of Literature awardee, Pablo Nerudo; I have eaten the best veggie burger my taste buds have ever encountered; I have attended a Santiago meet-up for locals and gringos alike, where I met two of my now good Chilean friends; I have skied the slopes of the Andes mountain range with a Reggaetone lovin’ crew; and I have danced the night away (eh, until 3am—early for these locals) at a Chilean wedding. I have watched the Chilean news and local Chilean soap operas (Teletrece, Srs. Papis, and Pobre Gallo, if anyone is interested) with my host brothers almost every night since being here; I have learned how to TRULY eat an artichoke; and I have tried these Chilean fried things called sopaipillas (street food: aka buy on the street…it’s called street food for a reason) and I haven’t turned back since. I have had a picnic in the park with friends and $1.50 wine to celebrate a 21st birthday; I have been told to “Have a wonderful day” every morning by a jolly old man when on my daily commute to school; I have come to fit into all of my jeans much better (sorry USA, your food is toxic); and I have met students and friends from France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, etc. I have been off-road biking in the Chilean countryside, totaling anywhere between 25 to 35 kilometers; I have seen Saturn, Mars, the Milky Way, and a star cluster through a gigantic telescope at an observatory in Chile’s northern desert terrain; I have gone to a market where anything and everything was free, a true ‘take-only-what-you-need’ mentality; I have been jipped $11,000 Chilean pesos in change at a restaurant until it was kindly demanded back by us gringos J; I have attended a Chilean middle school fundraising Bingo night to watch my girl Ellie Kust do her thing and perform her musical talent on stage (yes, you are now highly encouraged to check her out on SoundCloud); I have been taught how to dance by a Chilean in a rooftop bar too small for dancing; and I have attended a Chilean vegan festival with a very, very happy heart (and a stomach full of mango juice, a sushi burrito, chocolate peanut butter cake, and an endless amount of samples).

I can say that I’ve had my wallet stolen at a bus terminal only to have it returned by an anonymous and kind (or maybe just karma conscious) individual; I can say I lived with three amazing Chilean big brothers only to have them leave Chile for a big European trip; I can say that I’m one of the seemingly few vegans (I know, there’s gotta be more of them than I realize) living in this big city, yet my host family and like-minded restaurant owners have made this situation adaptable, comfortable, and easy to maintain; I can say that I’ve already experienced strep throat, yet my dentist host brother personally prescribed me antibiotics, saving me a trunk of Chilean pesos, an insurance headache, and a lot of my time; I can say that my computer completely died on me for 4 days straight (legit black screen of death), yet my REAL big brother who is 4,918 miles away magically fixed it for me; I can say that my local Jesuit university was seized and taken over by the reform-seeking students, yet through it I have thoroughly learned about Chile’s educational, social, and political history; and finally, I can say that I arrived at school for my first day of class only to find out that the class (and many others, mind you) didn’t actually exist, yet very patient advisors took the time to sit down with me and inform me of other similar courses that are available and, to my knowledge, existent.

There are inevitable obstacles, challenges, highs, and lows to juggling life as an American and native English speaker in a South American city and Spanish-speaking community. What I have found, though, is that it is empowering. Figuring out how to survive life in a different hemisphere isn’t an easy task for everyone, and no matter who you are, I believe it comes with adjustment. Yet, with the city at your fingertips and a plethora of others who are along for the ride, navigating the world doesn’t seem like such a scary thing. I entered this country not knowing a soul, and I have already had the blessing of meeting remarkable humans from around the globe, all here on a similar journey. Many times since being here I have humbly paused upon the thought of how much different my life would be if I had never chosen to stress myself out in order to get processed and approved to enter this country. The experiences I have had, the humans I have met, the sights that I have seen…none of them would exist if I had never taken a leap of faith upon myself. And for that, cheers.



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