MIssing you, Chile!
1 week back. Sorry no monologue about how I miss Santiago. It was cool; I went, I saw, I came back. But I sure am going miss Acapulco, Mexico. I mean the sparkling lights reflecting off the dark midnight waters and the horse drawn carriages. Just teasing. Acapulco was gorgeous, but I definitely enjoyed Santiago, Chile. It wasn’t a resort like Acapulco, but it still had a different atmosphere that was weirdly calming. Maybe it was the fact that we got to walk around the city instead of sit in a car, or maybe it was simply because we were out of school. Or could it possibly be the graffiti along the water canal that flashed interesting, artistic sayings instead of the usual gang graffiti from back home (for the most part). Or maybe the simplicity of hanging out at the Plaza on Sunday afternoon after most Chileans had spent the morning hidden away in their homes with their families. Could it be because you can get to the beach practically from any place in Chile. The list goes on. Either way, I feel incredibly nostalgic about Chile even though I had only spent one week there.
The cultural barrier was a double-edged sword. On one hand, I loved practicing my Spanish. Chile also had many similarities to Mexico where my parents were from. Still, there was slang used for the locals that confused me so much. There were moments where I looked at them blankly and they had to signal things with their hands. Like the time, the cab driver picked our group up. Also, the layout of the city resembled Los Angeles with the tall buildings. Yet, when you walked to the outskirts, the houses were definitely different. It was an odd mix of American and Chilean settings. I loved it because it was familiar enough to give me security, yet new enough to present new sights.
One thing I am happy to see at home are the dogs. Chile was filled with the cutest dogs, but they were mostly strays. I am a huge dog lover. I cannot pass by a dog without making some noise of glee and staring at the dog until I freak out the owner. Same thing happened in Chile except there were no owners and the Chilean people looked at me like I was crazy for trying to approach the dogs. So if my Spanish didn’t give me away, my obsession with dogs (stopping every five seconds to look at the dogs) definitely pinned me out as a tourist. At one point, a dog on the beach came up to me and sat right in front of me. I was tossing a tennis ball at the time, and when I tossed it, the dog ran after it. Soon, we were somewhat playing fetch. I would throw, the dog would retrieve, but he would not give it back. Then the battle to get the ball back would start. It was fun at the moment, but sad to see such a cute German Shephard roaming the beach. I was happy to see my dog back home, but I also wish I could visit the puppies back in Chile.
Lastly, it was hard to adjust to dollars again. When I first got to Chile, I struggled with the money. One dollar was equal to about 450 pesos, which completely scared me. I saw a burger sign with $990 on the front. It took me a few minutes to process that it equaled about 2 to 3 dollars. By the end of the week, I got use to the pesos. When I got back home, I was a little sad to regress back to the plain green bills instead of the blue and pink pesos. Still, I appreciated the fact that it only took one bill instead of 5 to buy a snack.
J . (So I guess it did become a Santiago monologue). J
PS. I loved the guacamole. The more guac the merrier.
No doubt a college student would adore traveling to another country; however, with all the upheaval of over-ratingness in our society (especially with traveling), people fail to mention the more important aspects of what will truly affect our experience: the problems that arise— and my golly, did people talk about these a lot (whisperingly, not so loudly, in the background). Problems are many sided, in my opinion, and they deserve a second look. These problems were more beneficial than “problematic”, and please, allow me to explain.
First, there was that communication barrier people were also so frisky about. This, however, was more a frustration at self than at the culture (USC students are more cultured and aware than the typical, arrogant, traveling layman). Of course, many students pushed their comfort zone of the second language abilities, and kept patient as many Chileans did. This already is the brighter note. Learning how to adapt was part of business culture, so we could say we were exercising our “extrovert muscles”.
Secondly, there was the financial issue; Chile is surprisingly expensive (due to their competitive nature, and being ranked #1 most competitive in the world)! You could sense the hostility between people when they were low on money and had more to care about in their minds. This, however, taught us about responsibility and such. Something we don’t really need a real lesson on, being college students and all….
Thirdly, there was the idea of the tired days, when people were still tired form the exhausting nights and the previous days, yet still being able to withstand the day before. Time management and hard work seemed to prove to be the toughest of tasks, yet every single person made it (bearly) on time every morning, and kept up (bearly) to make it to the happier side of the hill.
Lastly, there was the big problem with guacamole, which happened to appear out of nowhere to come into your meal: chicken, sandwiches, even the drinks sometimes.
This is my last post, and this is my farewell. It was a marvelous journey full of amazing moments, events, regrets, and happiness. Having this group of diverse and fantastic people will be hard to come by again, and I have no regret coming on this adventure. Santiago 2013, you truly were the light which brought the joy to the hill, and you memory will live on.
So all was well, flight from Santiago to Lima went smoothly and snoozly* haha. From Lima to LA we boarded, we slept, we watched movies, and then we heard over the speaker: “In need of medical assistance, please refer to the back of the plane.” Needless to say, a passenger was having a medical emergency that turned out to be so severe, we needed to land. As it turns out, the closest location was the very edge of Mexico— Acapulco.
So, we land. We wait. 2 hours later, we are told to deplane after a promised prompt departure. FRUSTRATION was a key feeling which quickly turned into delirium and uncontrollable laughter at the situation. Luckily we had the best advisors on the trip- Janet, Katie and Professor Coombs. All combined, I’d say we had the dream team of all dream teams. (Katie being the dreamy, amazing, wonderful, sweet girl that all the boys sought after…. jokingly? not sure). As Logan would say, “Kaaatieeee” in his very unique and iconic voice.
Only do we depart the following day at 1pm. Our trip was illongated by a full 24 hours, but I have to say, being stuck Acapulco wasn’t half bad.
This group has made the trip as great as it was. Without our strong group dynamic I’m sure we would’ve all scratched each others eyes out and complained until our throats were sore. Good thing for Janet, Katie, and Papa Coombs- we actually all liked each other, so we made it a funny game rather than sick horror story.
My conclusion in my last post fully relates to this— finding the good in all of the little every day things. Despite the unfortunate, dramatic landing, not having our luggage (or change of clothes for 2 days), and missing the first day of classes, we were able to be put up in a nice hotel in a beautiful area with a delicious, authentic, (and comped) Mexican buffet breakfast the next morning. And hey, we all didn’t want to leave each other at the end so we got a little (lot) more time together! Who wouldn’t want an extra day for their LINC trip?!
Anyways, its been a pleasure blogging for you all.
Enjoy the pictures!!
Danidogn (if you haven’t figured this out already, this is my nickname/username/pen name/whatever you want to call it) ^^Acapulco!
Welcome to Mexico??
Not in their happy place… (Dennis and Nadine)
Pre-Deplane. (Elle, Me, Sarah)
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!!
Yesterday, we went to visit the beach where we explored the depths of the exotically colored, lower-economic areas. The tour guide gave a suiting description for the streets: “funny”, which also suited everything else that I’ve experienced.
However, on the beach, you could finally hear the ocean coming in and out, much like what is happening today to us before the airplane arrives. It is now my, and our group’s, time to come back into the ocean after we have felt the thin, smooth, sun-touched, Chilean sand.
Like a farce, an accordian performer came by to distract us from the natural noises of human cheers and the ocean tides, bothering some and pleasing others. To continue this extended metaphor, I could see this auditory imagery similar to the chaotic noises we heard from the paper factory. Requiring earplugs, I couldn’t even fathom the decibes that would possibly damage my eardrums in the factory’s processes, in turn, I took a recording during a small speech the man gave in the factory. He was inaudible. It’s pretty funny that people would think to give speeches in such an environment.
The stray dogs on the beach had some foul smells (pooptail is a justified slang), much like the scents from the chemical/pesticide factory we visited. With helmets, the inability to take photos (probably for health violations, golly it was dirty), warnings to avoid acidic puddles, and glasses, I didnt even wanted to touch food without showering and after an absurdly complete radiation detoxification of some sort. The infamous skull sign that says Danger is always the most exciting warning you will want to see. Anyways, we enjoyed the evening learning about the processes, holding onto the handrails for our lives, and regretting holding on the handrails because of residue. That wasn’t so funny.
Dining on un cafe and a sandwich miga on a beach restaurant was very reminiscent of our winery tour at Santa Rita. This, as you would expect, was the most captivating of college students attention. The Louis XIV-like, Versailles- motivated, baroque gardens complimented the aromatic tones and bases of the wines we learned to fully appreciate. Who knew that words could control taste? Isn’t the human mind hilarious.
Jokes and laughs, I will always remember these past few days; memories you know you will want to remember and blatantly know will be one of your most important days of your life. It was funny, especially when… well, I’m not allowed to say that part in this blog, for those grains will need to be left on the sands of Valparaiso beach.
The harmonic, exciting, and funny tide of LINC has regressed back into the ocean after the tantalizing moments touching the warmth of Chilean sand, we can remember one fact: the moon still stands above us and tides, especially ours, do not simply disappear.