Max, outbound to Chile

If you eat too much avocado does your skin turn green?

That was a legitimate worry when I first arrived to the Republic of Chile. Now, eating my weight in avocado on a monthly basis is a completely normal part of my Chilean life.

That's right, life. I no longer feel like I'm the outsider here in Chile. Instead, I feel like Chile is my home. I have friends here, family, I fit in. For the first time, I had a full conversation with a stranger without her realizing that I'm a foreigner, the ultimate compliment for an exchange student.

As it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, I'm on break from school. Because of that, I've had plenty of opportunities to travel. From Argentina, to Patagonia, to the coastal city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaíso, I have had numerous opportunities to explore this long, skinny country that I call home.

Before coming to Chile, I was worried that over the summer I would be bored. In fact, its been quite the opposite. Every day it seems there is something new to explore. In my town's quirky-but-quaint downtown, my fellow inbounds and I make it a habit to discover new things. From the coffee shop that most resembles American Starbucks, to the juice bar owned by the friendly Colombian, adventures never cease.

In just a few short months, my language skills have improved drastically. Today, I proudly consider myself a fluent Spanish speaker, even though not a day goes by when I don't learn something new.

Chilean Spanish has definitely been a challenge, though. From centuries of virtual isolation from the rest of Latin America, Chilean Spanish has morphed into its own dialect, complete with its own grammar, slang, and accent. While my Spanish still isn't quite Chilean (I've actually been told it sounds more Mexican or Cuban), I am always met with a smile whenever I try my best to use Chilean words. ¿Cachai po weon?

In short, I can't believe that I'm already at the halfway point of my exchange. I'm so happy here, and I'm thankful to Rotary for the five past months, and grateful for the five left.


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