Monday, September 27, 2010


Right from Kindergarten we've been taught to share with others and to not be greedy. Here in Chile I find sharing taken to a whole other level.

Example 1: Food
You share ALL your food, ALL the time! Especially at school your food is fair game. During breaks if you have a snack or buy something you can guarantee to only eat less than half of it because everyone comes up, asks, or just takes a piece of whatever you have. Even if its just a piece of bread, cookies, chips, juice, sandwich, whatever, you bound to share it with at least two other people. At lunch your food is also free game. At my table there's usually forks going everywhere, trying bits of every one's food, and asking if your going to finish it. I find if you ask who wants to finish your food its divided up and gone pretty quickly! But also its polite to offer food to people as well, its just the culture.

Example 2: Space
Ok so it's not the same type of sharing as the food example but living in Santiago, a city of approx. 5 million, sharing space especially in transit is special. I've now experienced the "sardine-can effect" on the metro and it was not comfortable for me. Or also on the buses when you have people falling into you, again not pleasant. Having so much space and the "personal-respectful space" in Canada its been difficult adjusting to touching a few random people everyday on transit.

This week there's a Pastor from the USA who will be preaching everyday at school. He talks and then its translated for everyone else. Hearing opinions and thoughts that differ significantly from mine can be frustrating at times, especially when I can now understand it. He's very good at what he does and is very strong minded, I'm actually looking forward to hear what he has to say everyday.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy 200th Birthday Chile!

On Thursday I headed down south with my host family to Temuco which is in the Araucanía Region in Chile. It was about a 12-13 hour drive in total after picking up my host-dad at work, my iPod and the empty backseat were my best friends! Something that came as a surprise to me is that we had to pay to use public bathrooms in the gas stations, mind you it wasn't much, but still... that's not as fair for women! We stayed at a friends of my host-parents in Temuco and as soon as we arrived passed 12 am we ate... this was a very common theme for the holiday as I will soon explain!

On Friday I went with my host mom to visit some friends (they used to live in Temuco, so lots of friends and family.) We then came back and had an asado, went to a market and saw half-alive chickens and turkeys for sale along with amazing fresh produce, came back and ate some more, went to a park area that looked over the city, then to a friends house with more food, and then back again and more friends came over.

On Saturday we went to Carahue where my host-dad is from. We saw these old trains that are only from that area and then saw a parade for the holiday celebrations. The parade had no floats, clowns, or people throwing candy out. There were a lot of groups that walked along, schools, native Mapuche people, and most importantly the huasos (Chilean cowboys.) At the end of the parade all the huasos lined-up (mind you I was cringing the whole time while half the horses were spooked) and then people danced the cueca! After that they poured some chicha (typical Chilean drink) into a cacho (bull horn) and passed it around for people to drink. Luckily I was up near the front so my host-mom told they guy that I'm from Canada and I needed to drink it, so I did! After the parade and running into family and friends of my host-family we went to three different houses of my host-dad's family, all including lots of food! We returned back to Temuco and ate, then headed to the fireworks display which ended up as a big taco (traffic-jam) and it only lasted a few minutes, different than our Canadian displays for sure.

Sunday we went to a place where they had holiday festivities for all ages along with displays and such. We also saw a rodeo when we were there, I enjoyed it but it also made me a little sad. Being the animal-lover that I am it was hard to see cows being smashed into the walls, and then some bleeding or not wanting to get back up, but that's the culture and entertainment! The day consisted of some more good food, asado, and more visits with family friends.

On Monday was our driving back home day, but we stopped at the market first to grab some more things. I love going to the markets and seeing all the fresh produce and crafts, and the different people, it's always interesting! Like any holiday, the traffic was pretty bad heading back to the "big city" and we got stuck in a few more tacos.

It was nice to see some more country and a different area of Chile. Whenever I get out of the city and see different things it reminds me of the reasons why I tried so hard to convince Rotary to send me to Chile - the diversity! Driving South the mountains are always on your left side, and vice-versa on the way North. During a few moments some of the South reminded me a lot of Canada, especially rural Ontario, lots of greenery, fields and trees. But then the trees go away, and you can see far in the distance and all of the rolling hills, no longer mountains but giant hills! Also, on our way home we stopped at the Salto del Laja which was a little waterfall and it was so beautiful and was in a little tourist town which we stopped for almuerzo in and once again ate a lot of food!

Chilean food consumption:
  • Empanadas (everyone had empanadas, and everyone makes them differently so you HAD to try them!)
  • Asado
  • Sopapillas (fried bread)
  • Sopa de campo
  • Pan de Pascua
  • Pan, pan and more pan! (bread)
  • Chilenitos (the manjar filled one's are the best!)
And a lot more, those are just a few that I can remember or can find the name for! Overall I felt like I gained my entire "exchange weight" during the holiday, but thankfully that feeling is gone now and I'm back to eating normally!

Something else that I keep on forgetting to write about is how they use "la" before someone's name as if they were a subject. So therefore I am used to hearing "la Lyndsay" a lot and I've even started to use it to refer to my friends... I'm starting to speak Chilean! Also one of my friends told me that I was speaking good Spanish when I returned from the holiday - ok... good Spanish for me is speaking broken-Spanish sentences, but it was nice that she said that and it gave me an extra confidence boost to keep on practicing! I've also started to get into the habit of picking-up one of the free metro newspapers that they hand out on the street. As long as there's no line or I'm not running to late to school I quickly grab one so I have reading material for school and I can practice my Spanish and try to stay informed about what is going on in the news... if I can understand, and if not, there's always sudoku!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Yesterday was yet another productive day at school. I showed up not getting the memo that I didn't have to wear my uniform, whatever I'm an exchange student! I also didn't know how big of a deal the day was for the Bicentenario. Every class had a little booth set up that represented certain years of Chile or different aspects to the culture and people. So we spent the morning setting up the booth, listening to music, and taking pictures. Then we had to travel to all the stations and get stamps on this piece of card - this was for our mark in school. I didn't really learn anything, everyone was just really concerned about getting all the stamps and taking pictures on my camera, it was a good day! We were supposed to get out at 1:45 but everything was done with at 1 so we got to go home a little early.

I went home, took a siesta, woke-up, got ready and headed back to school for 5. I then went to a friends house to get changed and ready for our schools Bicentenario Celebration. Luckily I was able to borrow an outfit fairly last minute, including a ruffled blouse... so attractive! It was so cool to see everyone in tradition Chilean clothing, and at least everyone wore the same things, although it was way more funny to see the gringa wearing it! My class's dance went pretty well, I like performing (the cheerleader in me), but I swear there was an excessive amount of people taking pictures where I happened to be... maybe I was the first gringa to dance at this school?

My class - 3° Medio

Every Chilean knows the cueca

A famous actress showed up!

After some more pictures with friends I had to head home, get changed, and then go to my first Rotary meeting. My clubs meeting is at night, I think we arrived at maybe 9:45 or so. Also we were served dinner! I haven't had real dinner in a month! It was also their meeting celebrating the 18th of September so we had empanadas for starters and then after the meeting some Rotarians danced a little cueca! Also here Rotary is more of a couples thing, so both husband and wife go to the meetings, and we didn't have a speaker or presentation. I was also asked if I was from Australia... it's nice to be thought of as something else than American all the time. We left around midnight and I headed straight to bed because I had one more day of school before the holiday!

I got to school today and only two other people showed up in my class. Luckily they were two of my good friends but still... this is the worst turnout I've ever seen in my life! I mean compared to the lack of students at Southwood before Christmas vacation or the last day of school this is nothing! Even my teacher asked me why I was at school - I'm an exchange student, enough said. So everyone ended up in the computer lab, on Facebook, watching a pirated version of The Karate Kid dubbed over in Spanish with Chinese subtitles and the teachers gave us snacks! We were supposed to leave at 1 but we left early and me and my three amigas headed to the Alto Las Condes Mall. It was cool because you could see a lot of Las Condes from up high. Then two of my friends went home and I went with Cony to the Parque Arauco Mall (which is the giant Americanized one) and we walked around a bit, I ate KFC for the first time in many years, bumped into Stephen randomly (the guy from Ayr), and then we went to the actual park. We just sat and talked, listened to music, and basked in the sun in the middle of the park. I love how they have parks everywhere in Las Condes. It was a good ending to my last day before the holiday!

Things I notice:
  • There is graffiti everywhere, but a lot of it is more like art than vandalism
  • A lot of people smoke - On my first day in Chile my host mom smelled my clothes and said they smelled like Canada, because in Chile everything smells like smoke
  • Most kids bring lunches to school that you warm up in a microwave - I'm getting really good at fighting for a spot for my containers!
  • Some places have these mini workout gyms outside, I thought they were a joke until one day I saw tons of people using them
  • Sometimes if you miss your bus stop because the bus is like a sardine can and you can't see outside, the next one could be a long ways away, so you elbow your way through to make sure you get off the next time

By the way, today is the one month anniversary of Chile and I!

Monday, September 13, 2010

So this picture is a little over due but it was my first completo! One of my host-mom's friends gave it to her for "The Gringa" to eat! Wasn't bad, and luckily there wasn't any mayo on it (not a big fan), although I think I'm still a ketchup girl at heart!

Yesterday was a dreary day, it rained all day and was miserable. But the thing that I like is that when it rains in Santiago, it snows in the Andes. In the morning and even in the afternoon you could see the fresh white powder that seems to brighten up the range, and also the rain helps to clear out the smog for a little while.

My school's 18th of September celebration is tomorrow, I'll be clad in a Chilean style dress along with everyone else in my class... ohhhhhh photos!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spanish - what seems at the moment the most unreachable task of my life, becoming fluent.
Although I have to admit Spanish is one of the more easier languages to learn, because it's no Japanese or Thai with its own alphabet. Although I have started to notice how I'm beginning to understand more during the conversations of others. It also really helps when people slow down when they are talking (my host-family is amazing at the slow and simple words with actions) because the Spanish here is muy rápido! It's one thing to understand the conversation and what is going on/being talked about but it's a whole different ball game when it comes to speaking and responding!

Being here for 3.5 weeks there has been improvement in my Spanish especially since I came with nothing! My goal was at 3 weeks to be able to form some sentences, and I'm partially there. I have been able to ask for permission for things and make some points in which my host family or classmates can somewhat understand me. It's coming along, slowly but surely, and I've been learning new Spanish words daily - some that are useless and some that I will eventually be able to create sentences with.

Chile's national holiday, Vacaciones de Septiembre, is coming up next week and its the celebration of 200 years! It's a really big holiday and pretty much lasts a week. I've been told there is typically a lot of dancing, food, drink, and more food. Next week I have classes from Monday-Wednesday but they're only half days. Also my school is having a little fiesta and the classes are dancing, and guess who will be joining?! Yep - I volunteered to dance with my class, the only thing is that I need to find a typical Chilean style dress so I can look the part. The dance that my class is doing is really simple (I forget the name) but it also depends on your partner... I was the last girl to join in... enough said. But it'll be fun anyways - look for hilarious pictures coming soon!

The weather here is starting to warm up thankfully, even the last few days the temperature in Canada and here have been the same... and we're just starting to enter spring! On the days when the sun is out I swear I can feel myself getting a tan during break, but then i come back in, rosy cheeks and I'm still the white girl!

I'm also starting to constantly say or think "Hey, this is Chile" in so many situations. Whether its the kissy sounds that follow me around, the crowded buses where I almost couldn't get off of this morning and had to push myself through, the supermarket that is half under construction but is still a supermarket, how I never know what class I have or what to do, or the the bags of mayo and ketchup in place of jars, things are just different here - and I like it. I've already memorized the pattern of the one car alarm that seems to go off daily somewhere, and the dogs that never stop barking or sound like they want to kill each other are becoming normal background noise.

Mañana is the first orientation for all the 4340 Inbounds!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This Weekend

On Friday my school ends at 2 pm so I went with two of my girlfriends to see and get a picture with a famous Argentinian actor. I had no clue who he was, or where we were going but I was game for it! We took the metro to Providencia and ended up at a TV station - he was a guest on one of those celebrity talk shows. Anyways we arrived late so we couldn't get into the taping of the show, I felt bad for the two girls, they were REALLY excited to see him! We sat around the lobby of the station until he came on and then left because it was to depressing to watch anymore. We then walked around for a bit and then ended up going to a mall somewhere way far away to meet up with one of the girls boyfriends. So I was able to see some of the city and take my first TransSantiago bus.

On Saturday I woke up early and headed to the Rotary Club of San Bernardo. There was a reunion for the Rebounds of district 4340 and I also was able to meet the other Canadian here on exchange from Toronto, Emily! We stayed for a little bit and then were off to represent Canada and more specifically my district 7080 because they had donated money for a new ambulance! I didn't know about it until the day of, but I am pretty proud of my district back home! There, we were able to take lots of photos, "test" out the ambulance, and also meet members of the GSE (Group Study Exchange) who will be travelling to my district in Canada within a few weeks. After all the smiling and representation of Canada was done we then headed back to the reunion. We listened to some talks, obviously in Spanish, and were able to talk to each other about our experiences so far in Chile. Emily and I both arrived in Chile with NO Spanish knowledge... us Canadians can handle it! After the talks we had lunch and were able to interact with the Rebounds. Most of them had gone to North America or knew quite a bit of English so it was easy to talk to each other, and if they were speaking in Spanish and started to laugh... when all else fails, laugh!

Today I woke up early yet again and went with my host-dad to a Catholic church service. I'm not really sure what it was for but we represented the Rotary Club of Macul (whom I'm hosted by here in Chile.) There were police officers, Mayors, fireman, dancers, all sorts of people! After returning home my whole host-family headed out to San Jose de Maipo. It was beautiful! We just drove and it was a constant scenic drive, everywhere you looked there were mountains, hills, rivers, things that are just so much larger and grander than your own self! First we stopped in the little town and walked around the bazaar. It was such a peaceful and "chill" day just to be able to sight see and take a lot of photos. Driving back there were just moments that I could only imagine could happen in paintings or poems. The way the mountains and the colours were, or how many people were out flying colourful kites, it's moments like these that I really love Chile. Arriving back at home I finally ventured out for a much needed run, I only got a little lost but easily found my way back home. Hopefully one day I'll know these streets as well as I know the streets of Ayr... then again Ayr is just a dot compared to Santiago or even Las Condes!

Feel free to comment or ask questions, it's nice to know that I'm not writing to myself all the time!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2 Weeks

Well I've been in Chile now for two weeks - it seems so surreal that I arrived here only 14 days ago.
It still hasn't hit me yet that I am actually in Chile, living here until next July/August! I guess I'll have that epiphany some other day!

Today I had the whole day off of school due to testing for another grade and I was able to sleep in, which was much needed! I had made plans to meet up with, bare with me now, my mom's-friends from church's-son and fiance who have been living here in Chile for over a year. I took the metro and we went for lunch. It was quite nice to be able to talk with fellow Canadians, one even from my small town back home... small world! After lunch I had no other plans so I went with Ali to downtown Santiago and she went to work, teaching English, while I just wandered around downtown. I was trying to find a coffee shop because I have been craving coffee so bad (working at a cafe back home really made me miss it!), but I had the worst luck trying to find one that wasn't sit down, sketchy or had girls in skimpy outfits... yeah, it's kinda weird. Anyways I did a lot of window shopping but didn't end up buying anything because things aren't that cheap here as I had expected them to be, so I'll save my money for important things like Alpaca wool sweaters! Although I did find a dollar store but everything was 350 pesos, so less than a dollar! I passed some really nice government buildings and saw a lot of interesting people. I met up with Ali again and we went to Starbucks, a much needed treat with caffeine! It was so nice to just hangout and chat with someone who a year ago was going through the exact same thing as I am now. Unfortunately the rain finally came down so it looked pretty gloomy today, but I felt like I had accomplish quite a bit and saw a lot as well!

Things that I notice:
  • Bread is super important and you pretty much eat it a lot - it's also made fresh all the time and its soooooo delicious when you get it nice and warm!
  • Lots of guys have mullets... and rat-tails... I was told its a soccer player thing... but c'mon a kentucky waterfall, business in the front and party in the back?
  • Lots of people wear dark colours like black, gray, navy blue and it makes me really stand out, but once the warm weather arrives I've heard that the neon comes out!
  • Manjar is Chile's version of Canada's peanut butter (which I miss so much and is ridiculously expensive here), and Europe's Nutella
  • PDA (personal display of affection) is pretty popular here for all ages
There's always so many things that I notice and want to share but I always forget! I'll have to start writing them down!