Day 4: Tuesday, March 19
Today we had quite the adventurous day. This was the first day we dressed in business professional attire and man was it a wakeup call for the real world. Having to wear a suit that early until that late is a struggle. In the morning we had visits from CORFO, Banco Falabella, and the US Embassy Commercial Office. The Banco Falabella was the most interesting for me. Here, a major department store (similar to Walmart) opened a bank a few years ago to round out its customers in terms of support and reliabilty. I thought it was really interesting because it introduced an entirely different system than the United States. After this we went to a group lunch at Donde Augusto. It was the most filling lunch I’ve ever eaten—- filled with every type of seafood meal you could imagine! Ceviche, calamari, a traditional Chilean crab pot-pie thing, and then a number of salmon filets. Que delicioso! Luckily, right after this meal we had a very active and very packed day of “shopping” downtown. By “shopping” I mean scavenger hunt. And my scavenger hunt I mean walking all over the city hunting down a number of items. At first this activity was frustrating because I felt like I was starring on The Amazing Race — the confusion and angst of getting lost, the annoyance of mis-communicating and the happiness of finding your long-sought-after object. After 4 and 1/2 hours of tracking down all the items I felt I knew the city like the back of my hand. Regardless, we finished the day with a Starbucks (!!!! Alex…) run and the metro (YA WE FIGURED OUT THE METRO IN CHILE!). Although it was a long day, I really appreciated how much we got to know Santiago and how accomplished I felt when it was over. Needless to say, I fell asleep right when I got back until my Jack Johnson began serenading me for my 7am wakeup.
Day 5: Wednesday, March 20
Today we had visits from major forestry companies: CCU (actually a food/beverage company), CORMA, and ARAUCO. These three companies were so interesting because they are some of Chile’s main sources of income. The forestry companies are really profitable in Chile because of Chile’s climate and its ability to grow trees quicker than other countries. After learning about these processes we visited the Arch Quimetal plant 30 minutes outside the city. Arch Quimetal coats wood in chemicals to protect them from disease and such— so we were able to see, first-hand, how copper is broken down and how the chemicals are transferred. After this visit, we headed back and relaxed for a while before going to dinner at our favorite pub, Flannerys. After Flannerys, we went salsa dancing at Miercoles Po— an event held every Thursday that brings all international students studying in Chile together with Chilean locals. It was SUCH a fun night meeting all the local students and trying out our Spanish. By far the most challenging thing on this trip has been communicating with the Chileans. Only a few of us speak Spanish so we’ve been quite dependent on these few (me, Niko, Adriana, and Alex). What made my day was waking up to find Minnie taking a wine bath. She claims its great for the skin and the royal family does it! She claims, why drink it? Bath in it!
Day 6: Thursday, March 21
This morning we visited Fundacion Chile for a seminar promoting Chilean innovation. There were a number of people there giving presentations but was through a Swiss outlook. After a few hours of listening to Swiss and Chilean presenters, we fully understood how motivated the Chileans are in becoming a thriving business country. Following this, we went to the Union Club for lunch. Right in the heart of the city, the Union Club has been around for a long time and notoriously been known as only a men’s club. Only since 2006 have women been allowed inside. The club is a beautiful, ornately designed building with amazing architecture and art. Luckily we had our USC alum, Enrique Escobar Gattus to show us around and give us a little tour of it. We finished the meal with a philo-dough and cream layered cake— very telling of the entire meals delishousness. After stuffing ourselves with Chilean delicacies, we went to the Ministry of Agriculture. There, we sat in a conference room and watched their film on Chilean Agriculture. The one thing that stood out to me at this visit was the respect Chilean men have for their women. There were only enough spots at the table for about 2/3 of the group and they made sure every girl had a seat (and had been seated) before every boy sat down. You can be sure that I LOVED this! ;) After the completion of this visit we went to ProChile where we did a q&a session with the Chilean Ambassador and a few people that work with the company. Again, this visit really spoke about Chile’s determination to innovate and start developing a proactive business environment. This day was our longest so far but was packed with interesting lectures! The day was so long that many of our siestas lasted longer than an hour. What made my day that much greater was waking up to Minnie (my roommate) not taking a wine bath, but a milk bath, again reiterating how the royal family does this. Not only have I gotten much education on the Chilean culture, I’ve learned so much about the Chinese culture as well!!
Day 7: Friday, March 22
This day was my favorite. Hard not to like a paper factory and a winery right?? But besides the obvious, this was one of the first days I felt I was immersed in the true Chilean culture. The CMPS Paper Factory was actually so interesting because it showed us the process of developing paper from pulp and recycled paper. This particular plant uses 90% recycled paper and 10% pulp which is cheaper and more eco-friendly. The machines and the process reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When I told our guides that (in Spanish of course) they started laughing so hard (I’m assuming I said it correctly??). Right after this visit, we drove 30 minutes outside the city to the Santa Rita Winery. This entire trip we’d been seeing Santa Rita wines at many of the restaurants we’d visited so we were all super excited to see the vineyard and everything that goes into the process. First off, we ate lunch at their cafe which was…. interesting. Haha…while half of us were served typical chicken sandwhiches, the other half (including myself) were served this odd chicken/pepper sandwich. Definitely something I’ll never forget (and will never try again…hahaha!). But the vineyard was so beautiful that once the tour began we forgot all about it. The red grapes were in season and being picked while we were there so our tour guide allowed us to pick some and munch throughout the tour. We learned all about the picking process to the aging process all while seeing it first-hand. The most interesting part of our time there was when we applied this knowledge to some wine sampling. By judging the density of the wine, the rate of the tears on the glass, and the smell we could determine its age and its overall process. It was so cool!!!! Definitely something I’ll never forget. This day was my favorite because of its true Chilean culture, tasting the wines and being outdoors in the beautiful, fall (80 degree) weather.
Day 8: Saturday, March 23
Today was our FREE DAY!!!!!!!!!! It was so nice to sleep in past 7am and wake up simply to go to the coast. That afternoon we lounged in the sand until our skin became red enough to leave. After such jam-packed days it was the perfect ending to the trip. I’m so sad that we’re leaving tomorrow because I’ve become so close to everyone. In class prior to the trip I knew a few people but only Logan and Noah well. Now, I’ve become so close with everyone that I can’t believe we were all in class together every Friday for 7 weeks!! What’s so great about LINC is how it brings people together that come from so many different parts of the school. We are all involved in different things, yet somehow we all found ourselves going to Santiago, Chile for our freshmen spring break. My roommate, Minnie, has been such a delight, she deserves BEST ROOMMATE award. Seriously the sweetest girl I’ve ever met— I want to visit her so badly in Chengdu (China) sometime soon.
Being from Kansas, I’ve never been exposed to as many cultures as I have by attending USC and especially studying abroad in Chile. I feel so fortunate to now have friends from all over— next time I’m in Chile I’ll be hitting up the awesome Chileans we met there! Although the trip was a bit exhausting, it was such a rewarding experience to be thrusted into a completely different environment and learn all about their country’s struggles and achievements in business and their culture’s unique personality. The culture here is so romantic, so sweet, and so welcoming. Me and Lizzy were even talking about how it was the first time we’ve ever felt bad for being single— there were so many affectionate couples roaming the streets at any point in the day. Overall, I love how respected and loved women are and how romantic everyone is. If anyone were to fall in love in (or with) Chile, I am positive it would be me. The joy and love was intoxicating and I will miss it so much. I love how the dinner was so late and how we’d see people much older than our parents still awake past 10pm every night!! (Now that’s unique in my house…) The music and dancing is so upbeat and fun— In America, dancing between a couple is usually done through “grinding”. Over here, it’s salsa dancing (actually DANCING with your partner). Another key and unique aspect of Chile is their citizen’s pride for their country. In all of our tours is how much Chilean’s love their country and how much they believe in its potential. Their focus on innovation is a determination not only by leaders, but by the country as a whole.
One of my favorite books, Lonesome Dove, taught me a very important life lesson which is to “learn to love all of the little every-day things.” By doing so, you learn to appreciate your daily life and all of its gifts. The Chileans do this so naturally that its again, intoxicating. For those of you considering doing LINC Santiago, I highly recommend it!
And in the words of Mr. Jean Claude,
Bye bye butterfly!!