Oh The Things You Will Learn, Chile Edition!

Valeria Rubio is a student at the Kansas State University. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and studied and interned abroad with ISA in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile

I’m amazed how much and how fast one can learn when traveling and becoming immersed in a different country. It’s one thing to be sitting in a class and hearing someone talk about it, and it’s another to actually experience it. It’s fascinating. Looking back to my first day here, I really didn’t know much. You could have said the word Chile and I would have been able to say 2 or 3 things about it, but now the word Chile has much more of a deeper meaning and context to it. I am proud to say that I have learned “harto” (or “many”) Chilenismos here. Oh, the things you will learn while you study abroad! Here are the 5 things I learned about Chile in just my first 2 weeks here:

1. Chileans love their mayonnaise

Yes, this is the first one on the list because it was the one that surprised me the most, for some reason. I would have never imagined mayo being such a big deal here, but it is! Chileans love mayo (generally speaking). They will add loads of it to their hot dogs, dip their fries or potatoes in it, or add it to their veggies. I even saw the combination of spaghetti and mayo once!

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A whole section dedicated to mayo… there was still more on the right side too!

2. Chile lived under a military dictatorship during the 70’s and 80’s

Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but I didn’t know that Chile was under a military dictatorship from 1973 up until 1990. Learning about this was eye-opening because I had no idea Chile had experienced this, especially so recently. Learning about the history of Chile not only in class but also at museums, through conversation, and news has really helped me understand how that affects Chilean culture and society.

Learning more about Chile at our tour of “La Moneda”

3. Chilenismos

Si po’, no po’, weon, cuico, bacán, carretear, pololo, fome, al tiro, garabato, luca, guata, harto… cachai??? If you didn’t cachai (“catch that”), don’t worry: it took me a full week of immersion to learn just a handful of Chilean slang. I still have so much more to learn! Even with my advanced level of Spanish, I still have to constantly ask my host mom and sister what certain words or phrases mean because Chileans have such a unique way of speaking. Once you are able to start learning it, you’ll feel so accomplished and proud of yourself! Who knows, maybe you can impress someone with your Chilean Spanish and find yourself a pololo. ;)

Chilean women having a conversation at the bus stop in Santiago.

4. It’s actually really chilly in Chile

Sun-kissed tan skin, flip flops, and high-waisted shorts quickly turned into 6 layers of blankets, 2 pairs of socks, and sweaters. Getting out of bed is hard when the air around you feels like 10⁰ Celsius. I didn’t expect to feel the amount of cold I have felt, and it was something I definitely underestimated! I now know that even though temperatures don’t drop as much as they do in Kansas, having no central heating systems really makes the difference. If you’re ever planning to visit Chile in June or July, make sure to bring lots of sweaters and thick socks… you’ll need it!

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Wearing a thick sweater and jacket in Santiago. Wish I would have brought more of these with me!

5. Entrepreneurship and innovation is flourishing in Chile

Maybe it’s the little sopapilla cart sitting outside the university, or the young women selling her crafts at a fair. Perhaps even beyond that, the young student designing a patent for a new product at a business incubator. You’ll find entrepreneurship all around in Chile, and it’s continuing to grow more and more. The government is taking the initiative to support local entrepreneurship, giving space to the development of innovation, with the goal of being a center for entrepreneurship. With this, Chile hopes to have other industries it can rely on, besides mining. Interning at a co-work/business incubator has helped me realize just how big entrepreneurship and innovation is becoming here.

The business incubator and work space where I intern! People putting their minds together for innovation!


Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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