Chile: A Day in the Life
Well, it is finally starting to get colder here. In most places in Chile there is not central heating, as it is extremely expensive here, and it’s not cold enough to use the little stoves they use to keep the houses warm. Instead, I’m learning how to keep warm Chilean style. This involves a lot of layers, blankets, and curling up in bed after dinner in order to keep warm. It’s definitely making me question how necessary so many of our “necessities” are. Although I hate the cold, I’m determined to make it through my Chilean Fall and Winter with minimal complaints because they do so yearly. Central heating is a luxury here and I’m definitely realizing how lucky I am to be able to take it forgranted.
Other than that, things haven’t been too exciting around here. As classes in the US finish, I’m hitting the middle of my semester and my classes are starting to pick up. A few people from back home have asked me about the workload here. Here’s my answer: compared to my university in the states, I receive much less volume of material to read per night. However, this material is in Spanish, which takes longer for me to complete. We also spend awhile covering the material, so while we aren’t reading the same amount as I would read in the States, I think we’re having more in-depth conversations regarding the material. My tests are also comparable to what my tests would be in the US, but are in Spanish. I’d say that while there isn’t the same amount in sheer volume, the detail and language barrier make up for it.
My volunteer opportunity here is also going well. I’m working with a group in the south of the city that works with kids who are more or less not in the best familial situations. The kids go everyday after school and get to do homework, take fun classes, and spend time with the other kids and volunteers there. I go on Fridays, which is Sports Day, and am teaching a group of kids how to run. It’s a bit more challenging than I was originally anticipating, but I think they’re starting to enjoy it and warm up to me. I’m thinking about creating a competition for them before I leave, just to give them a bit more motivation!
I’ve also realized that I am much more comfortable here. I now know what times of the day the metro will be packed and if I should leave earlier or later at that time of the day. I feel comfortable shoving my way onto and off of the metro, asking a bus driver if they’re going where I need to go, and walking around the city. I can converse comfortably with Chileans, and my host mom has commented a few times on how much my language has improved so far. We’re only halfway there too! However, last week I was struck by the realization that Santiago is such a large city that I will spend my entire semester here and still not see the whole city. I make mental notes of areas to explore and try to get out and see a part of the city each week. It’s an amazing city filled with so many opportunities.
When I’m not out exploring or doing homework, I love spending time with my host family. My host mom has started cooking with me, and I’ve decided to devote Sundays as family days. We spent last Sunday cooking and it was a blast. We’ve made gnocchi, and American breakfast, and oreo truffles and she’s promised to teach me how to make Falafel and Empanadas soon. I’m really excited for our next culinary adventure.
Things are going well. I’m slowly getting better at soccer, classes are getting better, and I’ve discovered my classmates are starting to warm up to me. It takes time to form friendships abroad, but I think it’s finally starting to happen. It just takes patience, friendliness, and openness on the part of the foreigner.
We’ll see if next week promises any grand adventures. As for now, I can’t promise much, but I hope to keep exploring this wonderful city.