Hi- so I know this is super overdue but I think I’ve been in Chile for 50 days (woohoo) and I’ve already made lifelong memories. They weren’t kidding when they said exchange was going to be hard but if you are a prospective student and are reading this- DO IT DO IT DO IT! Ok now for the content you actually want to hear about:
School- I go to school in a town called Cartagena which is a 20 min bus ride away from my neighborhood. Every morning I wake up at 7:10 and put on my plaid skirt, white button up, tie and sweater and run to my grandparents house to make oatmeal for breakfast and normally put it in a container to eat on the bus. I really enjoy this bus ride because we go through the middle of my town and by the port and along the coast and if I am lucky I can see a sea lion or two. The bus is just a really nice time to relax and reflect (I think all exchange students can relate to this). Everyday at school I have a different schedule, for example today I had math elective, then a breakfast break and today we got bread with scrambled eggs, PE where we are learning a class dance which we will perform in front of the whole school, we even have custom made costumes to go along with it. Then I had physics, lunch (noodles with tomato sauce with tuna and a pear on the side. Then after lunch we went to biology elective where we were supposed to have a quiz but ended up having a free day and so I talked with my friends about the Lollapalooza Chile 2020 lineup that came out today and bee stings.
Everyday after school I go to running practice at a park near my house, and this is probably the highlight of my day every single day. My teammates are people my age and it’s really fun to workout but also just hangout and talk with them, and it makes it easy to bond because we have shared interests.
Last weekend, I went with my team to a town an hour away to run a 7k race and it was super fun because after we ran were just able to explore the town and eat lunch.
Family- I spend most of my time at my host grandparents house which I next door to mine since this is where I eat all of my meals, shower, and sometimes sleep. I also spend a lot of time playing with my 4 year old host cousin here too, because she also eats and spends afternoons and weekends at the house with her mom, Jessica. Jessica and I also spend time together, and will go to the market or even make sushi together!
Language- my Spanish is coming along pretty well and I’m able to communicate with my friends and host family here. I think it helps that I basically never speak English and when I hang out with the other exchange student in my town we speak in Spanish. My vocabulary has expanded so much and I can already tell that my understanding of what others say has improved so much since I first arrived in here in August. Chilean Spanish is a different breed but I’m getting the hang of it.
Food- the food here is pretty good but I definitely miss different flavors and spices because most things taste the same and no one eats spicy food here, despite the name of the country, but I like it in general. It is true that a lot of bread is eaten here but it is almost always fresh which makes it delicious. The Chilean diet is pretty much carbs, meat, and sugar but I have been able to integrate more vegetables, dairy, and fruit into my diet so I’m feeling fine. My host grandmas are pretty good cooks too and will often leave me a plate leftovers from lunch that I can eat after I run so that’s really nice. Chilean empanadas and sweets are delicious and the empanadas are unique in the sense that they are baked not fried, which I think makes them more delicious.
In general people here are extremely nice and welcoming, so if you are a prospective exchange student and wondering what countries to out on your list I strongly encourage South America! People here, especially in Chile, will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and always greet you with a hug. I am so grateful for the opportunity Rotary has given and I can’t wait to see what the next 8 months have in store! As always feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about being an exchange student and adios.
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