Saturday, August 9, 2008


Being an expat has its ups and downs, as does life in general. Sometimes I feel like it’s way too easy to be a negative-nelly and always call down the foreign culture. Of course as humans it is easiest to note the differences in our environment when they have a negative impact or make us feel uncomfortable--just as Clifton Fadiman once said "When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you feel compfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable." During my first year in Chile, I don’t remember being too bothered by these differences. Of course there were times when I became frustrated, but in general I tried to keep the spirit of “everything is different and life is an adventure so go with the flow”. But this second go-around, for whatever reason, it is a bit different to be tan relajada (as relaxed). I’m sure it all has to do with re-adjusting to life in Chile*, getting used to being married, having a full-time job and have a ton more responsibilities than I previously did. I like to refer to my first 13 months in Chile as a vacation because that is what it was—let’s be honest. Of course I studied and worked hard (the 2nd semester) in my classes...but I didn’t have to work, or participate in a million extra-curricular activities and be a super-star student. It was a descanso from my life in the States (much needed at that time in my life) and it allowed me to take life one day at a time.

Back to the point about always talking about the downside of the foreign country where one is located—I think another factor that greatly attributes to this frequent behavior of expats are all of the little things that we miss from our home countries. For example**: sloppy joes, unlimited cell phone minutes & text messages, my family & friends, having free bank accounts, efficiency, etc. Sometimes the smallest thing—that would normally not bother us—can have the biggest impact and completely spoil our day.

Another cause relates specifically to studying abroad—it is never the same place the second time around (unless perhaps you are travelling with your friends from study abroad). I remember when Bethany, Claire and Kathy left after the first semester my life in Chile completely changed. But for example, when Bethany came back in May of ’07, it was just like the “good ole times”. So living here, even though I’m in the process of making new friends, will never be the same as it was those last 6 months of 2006.

So I wanted to take a minute to write a bit about the things that I love about Chile, all of those things that I so dearly missed when I was back in the States for 10 months:
  • My husband! (of course)
  • Empanadas de pino (minus the olive): really I don’t think there is anything like an empanada de pino that just puts the taste of Chile in my mouth
  • A damn-good pisco sour (and yes, I vote it is Chilean!)
  • Speaking Spanish 100% of the time....well maybe about 90% of the time
  • The importance of family in this culture
  • The fact that the beach is 1.5 hours from me all of the time—meaning I can go whenever I want
  • SAHNE-NUSS...need I say more?
  • The beauty of the Andes mountains (when you can see them that is thanks to the smog)
  • Charquican: another one of my favorite Chilean dishes
  • The fact that life is slower-paced and more relaxed in general
  • Saying “sípo, nopo, cachái”, etc.
  • The facility of travelling wherever you desire—either by a cheap flight, or an even cheaper bus pass which is typically sin problemas (without problems).
  • Ceylon tea
  • Jamón de pavo (similar to turky lunch meat) and cheese sandwiches
  • Delecias from Castaño: type of cookie with a fruit jam in the center
  • Buenos Días a Todos & Casados Con Hijos: Chilean television shows
  • Not being considered short (thanks to the face the Chilean cultura is overall very short)
  • Being able to photocopy an entire book at a photocopy shop without getting in trouble
  • The fact the news here takes into account WAY more international news than in the States, where most news shows are focused solely on the U.S., thereby furthering the ignorance its citizens
  • The ferias artesanías
  • The fact that you can get most things at a pharmacy without a prescription and that medications are MUCH cheaper.

I'm sure there are more profound reasons for why I love Chile, but the truth is it is the little things that make life sweet.

*any time you leave a country and go to another (typically for long periods of time) there is a period of re-adjustment even if it is your native country.

**in no particular order


Mamacita Chilena said...

YAY! I found your blog.

I wholeheartedly agree with Sahne Nuss...mmmm, tops any chocolate we have in the U.S.!

Maeskizzle said...

Dude, I think I have this weird telepathy thing with gringa bloggers. this is the second time I post and then find out someone else had just posted about the same thing. Maybe its something in the air.

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.