Monday, April 20, 2009

Oprah’s Big Wish

Maybe I am behind on TV shows, but since we currently have cable in our new apartment, I have been watching People & Arts which features Oprah’s Big Wish. Now, I am not a big fan of reality shows in general because I feel like they are just silly and there are too many and really, can people not be creative and write good shows anymore? But this show, well it is WAY different, it is so emotional and amazing and I think there should be more shows like it on TV. Why? Because you have people who are dedicating their life to helping others and they are doing it because they like to give back, not because there is some prize at the end of the road (even though technically there is a prize, they aren’t aware of it). They dreams they make come true may be things that not everyone can do without dropping Oprah’s name, but they really show how important it is to give back. They show that there is someone who is always worse off than you are and that sometimes just the littlest action can mean the world to someone. Every time I watch Oprah’s Big Wish, I get tears in my eyes to see how these people help others and it makes me want to quit my job and dedicate my life to helping others. The truth is, I would love to work for a non-profit. I think it would be so amazing. Since moving to Chile, I think part of the emptiness and that lost feeling I previously talked about is because I haven’t gotten involved in a volunteer activity. I have recently found one that I would really enjoy doing, but as it requires a constant commitment and truth-be-told, I am over-committed from now until June, I am forcing myself to wait until after the wedding to get involved. I know that after the wedding planning is over, I will feel quite bored and useless and it will be perfect to use my free time to help others.

Oprah’s Big Wish also makes me think of one of my best friends, B., who is someone that is dedicating her life to helping others. In fact, she just graduated in 2008 and for the past year has been working for FREE in a volunteer program with Catholic Charities in Atlanta. She works with refugee families as a case worker and she is going to be doing the Peace Corps in about a year or so. B. is just like Oprah’s Big Wish, she makes me want to dedicate my life to helping the less fortunate in this world. I can just see her moving to some third-world country just to help educate its habitants and she would be happier than a kid with candy, when most of us would perhaps dread not having an actual toilet or running water. She is SO cool. There really just aren’t words to describe how amazing I think she is for having dedicated her life to others.

And if you haven’t see Oprah’s Big Wish yet, you should definitely check it out and then you should get involved in your community too!

P.S. I’m interest to know what sort of volunteer work my fellow expat bloggers are doing???

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Change Your Address with Extranjería & Policia Internacional

We all know that every country has its own immigration laws and policies. In comparison with the immigration process in the States, I think immigrating to Chile is a breeze, despite the sometimes long lines and stack of paperwork. Here in Chile, you have to run various errands, but if you are from the US, it really isn’t that hard to get temporary residence—especially if you are married, it is guaranteed and only takes a couple months to approve.

Well part of continuing to be a good resident and following the rules means informing the officials when you move. I never did change my address with Extranjeria or Policia Internacional when I was in Chile on a student visa, mostly because I had no idea it was necessary. But now that I will be applying for permanent residency in a few months, I want to stay on the government’s good side.

The first thing you need to do is inform Extranjería of your change of address. This, thankfully, is easy and can be done online. Just go to the Extranjería website, click on Contáctenos and click on the last link on the page where it says “Si se cambió de domicilio....”. A form will open up where you can fill it in and inform them of your new address. Extranjería will then later send you a confirmation email that your new address has been recorded. In the same email, they will remind you that you need to change your address with Policia Internacional.

Unfortunately, you actually have to go to Policia Internacional in order to change your address—there is no nifty online form to fill out. Since I live in Santiago, I went to Policia Internacional located on Calle Borgoño 1050 (Puente Cal y Canto metro stop). Technically they open up at 8am, and I suggest arriving at the first hour, especially if you are going for the first time to register your visa. On the paper that you get from Extranjería, it says they open at 8:30am. I thought I would have to go through the same process—paying at the window, taking a number and waiting with a ton of other people—but when you go to change your address, the process is much more simple. You head up to the second floor, Office No. 10 and speak to someone in that office who will take your new address and ask you some other personal questions (where you work, who you live with, etc.). It was very painless. I didn’t arrive right at 8am, which for the change of address was actually better because the employees in Office No. 10 didn’t get there until 8:30am. In any case, I still think the earlier the better.

Well that is my quick how-to in case anyone else wonders about what you have to do when you move in Chile.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apartment Situation Fixed

So a while back I wrote about the problems we were having with our ex-landlord who didn’t want to give us back the proportional amount of rent that corresponded to the days we weren’t living in the apartment. The whole problem started when her husband “se metió la pata” (got in the middle) and said they weren’t going to give it back to use because the contract say this and that and whatnot. He wrote an email to Christian saying that we were wrong and the contract works like this that and the other. I, being a contract accountant/analyst, took a look at the contract that Christian signed back in July 2007. The landlord’s husband was WAY off and so we wrote them a nice email referring to the clauses in which he was mistaken, etc. He wrote back to my husband still saying they weren’t going to give us the money back, but apologizing for making the mistakes and the huevon even admitted to not even reading the contract. Now this I just find absolutely ridiculous. You do not write to someone, telling them that they are wrong and that the contract is a certain way without even having read the contract. I mean, come on, how can you be such an idiot?!

We didn’t respond right away. I told Christian to wait as I wanted to contact a lawyer to discuss the situation and see what rights we had. Turns out that the landlord was pretty much under default for non-performance as according to the contract so I wrote up this big long email explaining that we had consulted with a lawyer, that they were in the wrong and that we simply want our money back—the money that corresponds to us. I think they got a bit scared because they went to the real estate agent who had originally rented the apt. to Christian and tried to get her in on the situation. The most ridiculous thing about it all was that when this real estate agent wrote Christian, she was talking about things that were nada que ver (had nothing to do with the situation). She thought we were made because the landlord decided to discount $15.000 (approx. $30USD) for the garden that we let die...which was completely untrue because we already had agreed that was fair and not a big deal to us. In any case, we didn’t respond to the real estate agent because she was making shit up and I told Christian to just call the landlord. See, him and F. (the landlord), had always had a really good lessor-lessee relationship (that is until the husband decided to get in the middle). They always did what was fair for both and acted in good faith. I told him to just call her and say that the two of them should work out the situation because, did I mention that at the beginning of the whole thing she had actually agreed to give back the proportional money?! So we knew it was the husband who was causing problems. Anyway, he met with F. at Starbucks and the two decided to meet half way. We said she owed us $XXX, she said she owed us only $X and at the end of the day she paid us $XX. So we didn’t 100% lose, but we didn’t 100% win either. I was fine with the agreement because it wasn’t that much money in the first place, I mean we would have never gone to curt—I just wanted to threaten—and we ended up getting something which is always better than nothing.

My words of advice for people renting in Chile: go by what the contract says so that you are always on the safe side. If it says that in order to cancel the contract you have to give notice by a carta notorial (notarized letter), then do it. It will only make you look better in the event you do have to go to court because you have followed the contract.

Monday, April 13, 2009

T minus 2 months!

First of all, Feliz Aniversario to the love of my life! Today we have been together for 2 years and 8 months. I love that we still count by the months as it allows us to appreciate the small things in life. We may not go out to eat or buy each other presents on a monthly basis for our aniversaries (or monthaversaries)...but just remembering is enough.

And seriously HOLY COW....the wedding is exactly 2 months away and there is oh so much left to do. So if you really really don't hear from me for the next two-three months, you will know why. I am working on getting a list together of everything we have left to do and it is pretty long. Eeeekk!!! (Oh, but we will have to plan a happy hour or something before I leave in May for those of you in Chile!)

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I've been feeling a bit lost lately. Not quite sure how to explain it, it is a pretty strange feeling to me seeing as how I normally always know what I want, how to get it and I just go from there. Perhaps a quarter-life crisis? Could be....but I sure hope I figure it out soon. Back home when I felt lost, or wasn't quite sure what to do, I had mentors to talk to about the situation. They would guide me, point out aspects of certain situations that I hadn't noticed and brought up points of view that were new. I miss those mentors. I know I should just try and ignore the uneasiness for now seeing as how I have a million things left to do for the wedding, but I just don't like not knowing where my life is going and not having a decided direction. I'm sure none of this makes sense and just seems like rambling, but I feel like that is exactly what I need. Desahogarme....eso es lo que necesito.

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.