Chile is an incredibly quirky, beautiful, and sometimes irritating country. It has all of the different types of landscapes you could ever imagine. While in Chile, I have had the ability to see many marvelous landscapes. From the Mars-like Atacama Desert to the lush forests of Pucón, I have seen places that previously only existed in my imagination. Before Chile, I never had the opportunity to leave the United States. I always knew I wanted to travel the world, but never knew how strong my wanderlust would become after this study abroad experience.
Wan·der·lust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world; according to dictionary.com
Chile also has its quirks as far as cultural idiosyncrasies. See list below:
Things that annoy me about Chile:
1.) How slowly people walk here. I thought I was a slow walker until I got here.
2.) Lack of spicy food.
3.) While walking, (sorry lots to do with walking since that is all you do here) people frequently walk right into you. You know those moments where you awkwardly try to dance around someone so as to not run into them? Those moments don’t occur here because everybody just LOVES to run into you.
4.) Having to take a number everywhere. You want bread? Take a number. You want to buy a flight to Atacama? Take a number from the fancy machine.
5.) Having to throw toilet paper in the trash can, not the toilet. This has taken me 5 months to learn.
Things I love/will miss about Chile:
1.) Random asados (barbeques) that go late into the night where everyone talks and laughs together. Family time is huge here.
2.) Ice cream stores on every corner. And the best ice cream ever. Seriously.
3.) Walking to the grocery store with your host mom can be a daily occurrence. On these walks, she makes fun of you for not being tan and tells you about political issues in Chile. She also loves to listen to you talk about your family and your childhood.
4.) Frequent karaoke. Karaoke where you get introduced as an international singer and then proceed to sing Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey.
5.) Living by the beach.
6.) Traveling. Frequently.
7.) Hearing, “weon, po” in every conversation.
8.) The restaurant Flor de Chile in Viña Del Mar. It has the best cheese empanadas and cheap wine, but also the most terrible service I’ve ever experienced. It will teach you the patience you need to deal with Chile.
9.) The constant outdoor activity that is available. I feel like I’ve gotten the chance to run, hike and trek everywhere!
10) . My host family and the Chilean friends I have made while down here. They have become an integral part of my life and really helped enhance my experience.
However the most beautiful thing about Chile? Así es la vida. This phrase is how many Chileans live their lives. You embarrass yourself? It happens. A bus breaks down? Life happens, what can you do to change it? Flights will be missed, people will get hurt and my heart will be broken. I will cry; I will get angry. Así es la vida. There will always be a better day and life will work itself out.
To other students planning on studying abroad in Chile or anywhere around the world: try to examine the worldview of the country you’re in. Look at how the people live their lives and pinpoint the focus of their lives. Chile has taught me to seize the moment as well as realize that I cannot control every little detail in life. If I had come to Chile with the mindset that I was never going to change, then I would never have gotten to learn how Chileans live. Come into the country and experience with an open mind. Always ask questions. And don’t ever forget to be friendly. You may meet someone who changes your life forever.
I never thought that a country could change me as much as Chile has. I feel that it has made me a better version of myself. Chile, mi amor, thank you for teaching me how to live. I will never be the same because of you Chile, you strange mistress.