One month in!
Well, I have been here in Santiago for a little over a month now. This first month absolutely flew by. It seems that just yesterday I arrived here in Santiago.
On Monday I picked up my carnet de identidad, my Chilean ID card. This card, which expires in September, allows me to legally reside and study in the Republic of Chile. Applying for the card, and registering my visa, gave me a real taste of Chilean bureaucracy. Following hours of waiting, several bad photos, and providing the same information again and again, I finally have my carnet. Let’s hope I don’t lose it…
As if obtaining my carnet wasn’t enough to remind me that I am indeed living in Chile, dinner on Sunday further cemented that notion in my brain. Chileans love avocado, or, as they call it, palta. I had gone a whole month in Chile without consuming the green vegetable, but, lo and behold, on the dinner table was a plate full of avocado! I had some with bread and I must say that it was quite delicious. But the excitement didn’t stop there. My family had prepared an asado for dinner- a traditional Chilean barbecue. They improvised a makeshift grill on the balcony of the apartment, and the delicious smell of barbecue wafted through the air. I must have consumed my own body weight in barbecued meats, and it was definitely worth it. The fact that my host parents are excellent cooks didn’t hurt either… Between my carnet, the barbecue, the avocado, and last week’s earthquakes, I feel like a full-fledged Chilean!
I am amazed at how quickly I have settled into a routine here. During the week, I wake up between 6 AM (on Fridays, when I have class at 8 AM after a 30-minute walk to the university) and 8 AM (every day except Friday). Breakfast usually consists of some sort of sandwich (ham, salami, or cheese and butter) and tea. My host mom packs me lunch every day (a sandwich with fruit) and I’m off to class all morning. We usually eat dinner around 8 PM every night and watch the nightly news. The weekends are a bit trickier, as I tend to get up early whereas my host family doesn’t get up until 11 AM at the earliest (once, they stayed in bed until 4 PM). Throughout the week I try to meet up with Chilean friends, and I must say that I am very proud of how assertive I have been in making friends. Having Chilean friends has really enriched my experience here, as I can interact with Chilean people my age. Of course, it is somewhat difficult, but it is really rewarding.
In other exciting news, President Obama visited Santiago on Monday to meet with his Chilean counterpart, President Sebastián Piñera. The streets were closed and as a result, the Metro was chaotic (which I witnessed firsthand after discovering that my route to school from the Registro Civil, where I picked up my carnet, was totally closed). Chileans seem divided on Obama’s visit. On the one hand, many are honored that Obama chose to stop in Chile (rather than Argentina, much to the delight of the Chileans) during his Latin American tour, as even some TV commentators and analysts said that Chile was “not important” to the United States. However, the leftists here in Chile were furious about Obama’s arrival and staged massive protests. What angered them the most was the fact that last week, Chile and the United States signed a nuclear cooperation agreement. In light of the radiation scare in Japan, many are worried about a similar disaster happening in Chile. What I found most ironic was that the communists and socialists were protesting Obama for being an “imperialist” and “fascist,” whereas in the US, some segments of the political right have labeled Obama was a “communist” and “socialist.” All in all, Obama’s visit unfolded without a hitch, and images of the banquet were broadcast on Chilean TV. The complicated US-Latin America relationship continues…
I was offered an internship at the Fulbright Commission in Chile, an organization which coordinates academic exchanges between the United States and Chile. Following an interview last week conducted in Spanglish, and a translation of a highly scientific and technical document, I was offered a position as an intern! I’m still waiting to see if I get contacted by other organizations, but I am relieved that at least someone wants me!
Stay tuned to hear more about my adventures in Chile! ¡Adiós!
Posted in Take Flight