Safi Chalfin-Smith


Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: Gainesville
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: 4340
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Cartagena

My Bio

Hola! Me llamo Safi and I am so excited to spend the 2019-2020 school year in Chile. I am currently a junior at Gainesville High School and live at home with my mom, Brenda, and dad, Dan. I also have an older brother who is in college named Eliot and we have two black labs, Martha and Olivia, who I will miss dearly next year. When I am not in the classroom, I can be found running the local trails with my cross country and track team. Although I am sad to be leaving the place I call home, adventure awaits and homesickness has never been something to hold me back. Whether it was moving to Washington DC when I was 4, Ghana when I was 10, or Cambridge, MA, when I was 14, I have always known to cherish the moment and not dwell on wishing to be somewhere else. Living in Chile next year still seems surreal to me, but it represents a unique opportunity to perfect my Spanish and get to know the country where my grandmother was born. I am more than ready to embark on this journey and make lifelong connections with students from around the world. Once again, I would like to thank Rotary for this opportunity and my friends and family who have been more than supportive of my decision to go on exchange. Adiós.

other inbounds at the orientation when I first arrived

other inbounds at the orientation when I first arrived

me and Leanor at my host grandparents house, she is my cousin

me and Leanor at my host grandparents house, she is my cousin

Journals: Safi-Chile Blog 2019-20

  • Safi, Outbound to Chile


    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.

    Click HERE to read more about Safi and all her blogs

  • Safi, Outbound to Chile

    (29/8/19) I arrived in Santiago, Chile last week along with all of the other 4340 inbounds (there are 80 of us). We were picked up at the airport and brought to El Quisco for a weekend orientation. It was super beautiful because we were on the coast and could watch the sunset and hugs waves crash into the rocks. The Rotex led the weekend and we played a Chilean version of dodgeball (I won!!!!) and did this crazy relay where we had to jump rope and spin and crawl and put our faces in a pile of flour to search for candy. This ultimately led to a flour fight but it was super fun and a great way to bond with all of the other exchange students. Most of us are from either the US, Germany, or France, but there are a few kids from Canada, Finland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Belgium, and Hungary. Everyone was pretty tired from their long flights and time changes (especially the Europeans) but we managed to have a dance party and we learned some traditional dances like the Cueca.

    We were picked up by our host families on Sunday afternoon. I am living in San Antonio, Chile and have actually moved in with my host grandparents and will be sleeping here for M,T, W, Th nights and at my host parents F, Sat, Sun (they live next store to one another). I have not started school yet because there have been complications with paperwork and other formalities and my YEO and counselor are looking into a different school for me to attend (Lions school in Cartegena not Colegio Fénix in San Antonio). I think I’m going to go look at Lions today with my counselor.

    This past week I have been doing errands in the morning like getting a SIM card and trying to get a Chilean identity card but in the afternoon I eat lunch with my grandparents (yesterday I had the traditional Pastel De papas which is basically a mashed potato cake with a bottom layer of meat then potatoes and then on top is melted cheese) at there house and then play with my 4 year old cousin Leanor after she gets dropped off at the grandparents house after school.

    Her parents (Jessica and Cristian) have been super helpful and Jessica has been taking me to her work in the afternoon at the city hall building of San Antonio where she works in marketing, communications, and writes articles. Her coworkers have been super welcoming and they do marketing and design for the city (make posters for city events, run the social media pages and website, conduct interviews etc). They often ask me about the US and I even had to explain conspiracy theories like the moon landing, flat Earthers, and “is water wet?” which was pretty difficult to do in Spanish. I also went to the library yesterday and it was so beautiful because it was redone earlier this year. I think it is one of the only buildings in the entire town with heat (it’s winter here!!) so that was a nice change.

    I can already tell that my Spanish is improving and speaking with Leanor (the 4 year old) is very helpful because everyone else has such a thick accent and people here use so much slang like adding “Po” to sentences and words like si and ya or saying cachai??. I also have been reading books to her which helps me a lot too. I Hope everyone stays safe during the hurricane (Dorian?) and I am off to eat breakfast (tea and bread and hopefully an orange).

    Adios, Safi

    Click HERE to read more about Safi and all her blogs

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