Saturday, August 30, 2008

Culture Shocked

Seeing as everyday there is something new, especially in this past week, I thought a list of differences would make everything clearer than explain how each day has gone by.

NOTE: "It's not better, or worse, it's just different" - Rotary :)

Driving, well as I have said before it is LOCO
Seatbelts are not worn, except for some reason when we drive on the highway
Collectivo's are around everywhere instead of taxi's and they have no seatbelts as well
Stray dogs are EVERYWHERE! & they're not vicious at all, actually they're very friendly
There is no dinner, only "once" which is tea, bread, and sometimes eggs
Lunch is massive! Almost like 2 or 3 whole plates of food and they think you will eat all of it
School is well, a joke.
Time is not of the essence here. Right now can mean like 30 min to 2 hours from now
To greet someone you do a side-kiss thinkg. It really sucks if the person hasn't shaved in a while.
They talk fast, as in faster than most Spanish-speaking people
The houses are not heated
You go to to bed with socks and slippers, pants, as well as 2 shirts plus a sweater with the hood on
Smoking is their past-time, okay not literally but at a party even if a person does not smoke for a month they will smoke at a party (Social Smokers)
Shoes stay on in the house
Your clothes are hung dried even in the winter
Little kids are allowed to drink pop. As in 3yr olds. I thought that would make them more hyper than they already are. Haha
Tea is had at all times, it replaces milk, or at least for me
Milk tastes like cream, like table cream even though the fat content says 1.2% so it should taste like water but it doesn't
EVERYTHING comes in bags. Like milk (but different from us), yougurt, mayo, and other condiments. It freaked me out at first when we had weiners and they were squirting mayo from a large bag.
They point out in my yearbook all the "Chinitos" ahaha
Every house is gated, and may have barbed wire, or broken bottles, or pointed fence edges at the top of the fence. At one point part of a fence of barbed wire was down and it freaked me out that it wasn't there.
J-walking is expected
On the roads everyone thinks they have the right away lol
Houses are usually one floor
The notebooks for school are all graph paper (and this is for printing words)
Alcohol is sold in grocery stores
Almost anyone can buy ciggaretes as long as your not wearing your school uniform
When you walk into a big store and you have a bag from another store, a special piece of tape has to go on it so they know you arn't shoplifting anything.
Toilet paper doesn't have those serrated patches, its literally just a roll.
Everyone's favourite bands are usually the Beatles and Guns' N' Roses
Oh, and there is this obsession to ask you if you have a boyfriend (pololo) even if they just met you.

This is what I have noticed some weird, some cool, some unusual, but this is Chile so far this week for me!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

School - English College


"I woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head" - Beatles

I did something similiar, but I also put on this ABSOLUTELY stunning uniform, and I must say I made the tie look uber hot. hahaha. uh huh as if. The shoes are worse though as in, ugly, black,
big mary jane shoes

I was driven to school by Tety (my older host-sister) and I was escorted up to my class "4 Medio E" I was greeted by Marcelo (Chelo), & Nacho my host-cousin. It was awkward entering the classroom with no friends but it was only awkward for like 10 seconds. I had my seat and then the people began to come.....

In Chile to greet anyone you do like a side kiss on their right cheek. So that was happening a lot.

Eventually I had a mini crowd around me which Chelo pointed out to me, seemed odd to me. But alas, I kept talking in my Spanglish and everyone else was told to speak in english or in spanish but very very slowly. Not too many people knew english, I thought it was weird for an english school haha. But Jose did warn me. I did talk to David who lived in Florida so he was fluent in english and for a little while he translated some things that I couldn't even possibly try to say in spanish, but he didn't have to translate too much seeing as how I have prefected the art of spanglish with sign language too ^^ ahahahhah. It was awhile in class when I noticed the teacher hadn't even started a lesson plan, apperently we do nada (nothing) in most class just a few do we actually do anything. I can do this :) ahaha

Here is how my day went.....

Spanish Class - Nada
Math Class - Nada (I was taken down to see my host uncle and his wife, it was really good I understood them and everything, and they even said my spanish was really good hurrah!)
Historia - Writing notes, but I don't know what she said so I practiced spanish
Historia - More notes....
Filosofia - Copying Mime's notes and the teacher looks like John Lennon no kidding and he has a scratchy beard so when you have to do that side kiss thing your cheek itches afterwards haha
Religion - Nada
English - Nada, the teacher showed up like half way through the class and then said "Vamos" so the next class of math was skipped as well hahaha. This may be the reason why no one knows english hahaha.

But, for the most part I was talking to my classmates who were trying so hard to talk to me! :)
So I met...

Mime: she is very nice and tries really hard in school, and was very helpful in showing me around the school and helping me to practice my english.

Carmen: Very quiet, but was helpful in showing me around the school

Geraldine: Very nice as well, helpful, and was very good at explaining things in spanglish with me

Chelo: Very nice, and is such a sweetheart

David: Translated a lot of things, I can think at the end of the day he was bothered by people pestering him and him being the human english-to-spanish dictionary.

Nacho: Well, everyone says he is stupid, and he looks like a wannabe gangster in his uniform a.ka. he tries to wear his pants low hahahahha.

There was some other people but I didn't really talk to them too long to get to know them too well.

Apparently my classmates think I am very nice, and even charismatic. Think I was smiling enough? haha Overall it was amazing and they even told Lulo (my host brother in Pennsylvania) that I was nice. I think I did very well then. :)

I shall get some pictures with me in that hot uniform hahaha!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The second day here in Chile I was lucky enough to have my host sister Consuelo Junior (Tety) take me out to Santiago (this helped me to keep my mind off of thinking of home).

Consuelo and I first walked on the dirt road that our ranch is situated on along with many other houses. As you walk past the houses each one is guarded by a gate along with 7-8m high fencing and sometimes barbed wire. Depending if they were trying to guard their grapes as well.

We walk until we hit the main road and wait for something. A collectivo.

Collectivo: basically a taxi that goes on a route and you share it with whoever is in the taxi already and you pay a set fee and you don't tip them.

We get off the colectivo somewhere in Talagante near the plaza centre, and we walked past brightly coloured buildings and run down sidewalks. Minding you that it was winter so the foliage of the trees hasn't spruced the place up yet. We wait a minute for a micro (a bus) but this bus is sooo cheap I read the fares to go to Santiago it was like $2-$3 dollars and Consuelo thought that was expensive. I'm thinking going for 30 minutes by bus to Santiago for like maximum of 3 dollars is a bargain seeing as that Burlington Transit charges you 2.50 to go one way. We end up at my highschool English College.

My older host brother (Jose) would tell that they don't really teach you english there anyways but they still put the highschool's name english ahaha. So my host sister and I went to get my schedule and she knew EVERYONE in the school every step we were stopped to say hi to someone, and here it is customary to kiss people on their right cheek. Even if you don't know the person you will say Hola, kiss, you won't talk to them or even know their name and when you have to leave you say Ciao, and another kiss. They don't even have to know your name but if you tag along someone they know its customary. Needless to say I kissed a lot of people.

We finally got to the point of being able to meet my class 4 medio E. We went to the classroom and I didn't meet them. I tried to understand Consuelo and the teacher so I think he didn't want me in because I would cause a riot seeing as when the door opened heads were already turning and straining to look at me. So I met my host-cousin instead, Nacho. Consuelo has for-warned me about the Chilean guys and to stay away from most of them hahaha. Seeing as we were walking by and we already had a whistle and some looks.

The point of going to school was to assure me if I needed anything I had like a bigillion family members that can help me.

Then my host-dad Fernando drove Consuelo and I to Santiago. It was less than 30 minutes to get there. He dropped us off at La Moneda (President's Buliding) after we parked in a place that looked like a subway staircase apperntly it was parking space, freaked me out. I was told to keep hold of my bag so intially I slung it over my shoulder just for good measure. So we went into the metro (TransSantiago) rode it to a certian point, I just followed my host-sister the whole way.

Chileans always ask if you are hungry (seeing as I eat very little or poco) and well I am not really hungry ever except at night so they are amazed when I hardly eat anything at lunch. So I had some juice called Watt's really good its like puree juice but better. Then we went across the road to her univeristy with the tennis court. While Tety was playing tennis I was practing Spanish. After her tennis match we met up with her friends. We drove to the mall to get some lunch at like 3 pm haha. We ate at a place called Doggi's apparently Tety said its like McDonald's but it really isn't. Maybe a Chilean McDonald's? I had empanadas.

Empanadas: Chilean food, basically deepfriend crispy bread with cheese in the middle it was delicious.

Driving in Chile, well its LOCO (crazy)!!!
The driving lanes that are marked with white paint will magically dissapear and become a free for all. If its a two way road cars will drive in the middle of it until they absolutely have to move to the right side. Cars will drive in the middle of a clearly marked lane, cars will pull out on a turn and be in the way and the on coming car with be like a 1mm away from hitting it. Blinkers are used for a half second or not at all, and well seatbelts are they but not the buckle ahah and if it is well you don't use it.

Coming home after that day and going on the metro again in RUSH HOUR well we had to let the subway car pass at least once to get to one that wasn't suffed to the brim with people. We got a bus back to Talagante when the sun was setting over the mountains, it was gorgeous. We got back to our dirt road and I could see the stars and the milky way seeing as how no streetlights were around at all, you notice what they rob you of.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chilly in Chile

I went to the airport on the 23rd and along came my brother, my mom, my dad, and Hayley. By the time I had to go through customs I was sobbing and the lady at U.S customs was confused, out came my sobs about how I had to leave my family. She didn't care haha. But it was the fastest time I had ever gone through U.S customs they didn't even need the form saying that my parents agreed to let me travel to Chile. Apparently a student visa was good enough. The plane was tiny like super tiny I hit my head on the ceiling. My carryons were so heavy and it turns out that the AirTrain that would take me to my next terminal was sooooooo far away. As in I was sweating by the time I got there. Once I reached terminal 4 it was chaos there was no order and I couldn't figure out where to go. It turns out I had to get a new plane ticket (who the hell knows why when I had one already) then I had some McDonalds, and went through security again. I waited for my plane and that was it. LAN Airlines was probably the best I've flown. I didn't have to pay for my pillow and blanket (damn you Air Canada) and was served dinner and breakfast.
I was offered vino several times though ^^ (don't worry Rotary I refused I was much more intrigued by the milk that tasted more like creme) I had two seats to my self as well as double the pillows and blankets, and a heartfelt movie to go along (Sex & the City). I got to sleep, seeing as the plane finally took off at 9pm instead of 8pm and I arrive in Santiago at 6:50am. SO the flight was rather good. I got off, went through customs in a flash (cripes coming into Canada is harder even being a citizen). I came outside the area and was pestered by a couple of taxi drivers (which I was warned)I hopelessy looked for my host-family so I wouldn't be bothered in Spanish anymore, I then saw my consellor Sofia. For 5 minutes I waited with her, my host parents were late because of the thick fog that was in the valley of Santiago, and even driving home was a challenge to see 2 metres in front of you.

The cold was a nice change compared to Ontario's humidity. But after a while I was "tengo frio".
We got to a dirt road that twists and had huge puddles, we get to a gate that we had to open. The property has 3 houses, and is not a farm but a RANCH (Brett it is a ranch not a farm!!!) I met everyone and had breakfast not that I had much of an appetite. Then I had a nap.

Everyone in Canada questioned me about bringing soooo many sweaters GOOD THING! Because the houses here don't have central heating so if it's 5 -10 C outside its the same in the house. You wake up and your breath frosts in the air. I must admit for winter it is warm but it makes up by being cold in the house as well.

First thing I noticed was that no one took off their shoes in the house, being in Canada its a courtesy to take them off. But seeing as the whole house is tiled I could see why it wouldn't make a difference, anyhow I had to get into my moccasins because my inner Dad was saying how much of a mess that would make. My first sentence was probably Tengo Frio! I woke up with my toes like popsicles, and thats what I said all day. When I woke up I went outside (where it was much warmer and almost hot) and I played with the younger kids, and played some soccer. We had the family's first asado after the winter for me because I had arrived. Asado is a barbecue but not like a really fancy barbecue more like a standing pit with coals on it and a grill top on top.

Chileans love to eat! I eat so little compared to them (it might be because of stress) but I don't eat too much anyhow. Everytime I finish I get "really you're full?" "Si satisfecha" (yes, I am full)
it is quite funny. I had to have another nap and did nothing much for the rest of the day but watched Los Padrinos Magicos (Fairy Godparents cartoon) with the younger kids, couldn't follow it even though I have seen that episode. I then had "once" which happens after 9pm its like a midnight snakc but not at midnight and consists of tea and bread. My host-brother Jose started teaching my Spanish because he is fluent in English so it is easier for him to explain things to me. But I did read an article in the newspaper about how the Chilean soccer team "Colo-Colo" was getting rid of their coach since he is doing a crappy job so they were explaing what his options are. I thought I did pretty good at reading it. I think my first day went alright, even if my emotions were raging and I felt pretty homesick.

I started reading my only english book and was wayyy to far into it I think I might want to savour it.

In Chile you wear lots and lots of layers because in the morning and at night you are freezing and I neede a hot water bottle, but during the day you are almost boiling.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Today I went to my last Rotary meeting in Canada, and had to go to city hall to get some more pins ^^. When I finally got home I had a perfect moment by myself. I had the song "Fix You" by Coldplay playing, I was lying on my bed, the sun was streaming in, my dog was sleeping on my bed, and I just felt so happy and satisfied. I didn't have any of those mixed emotions about leaving and it was just so nice to have a moment where my emotions didn't take over my day. It was lovely to say the least.

Today is also my going-away party...we'll see how this goes.

And here are my suitcases my Mom and I painted the maple leaves on them I think it looks pretty cool and let's just say there is no mistaking them at the luggage claim.

I thought we did a damn good job for hand painting!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The last two weeks I have been in British Columbia visiting my grandparents and other relatives and friends. While I was there I was hard at work making host family gifts. Needless to say when I arrived there my suitcase was merely 20 pounds (the suitcase weighs 12 lbs by itself) and when I got home the suitcase was 49 pounds, and that's with putting 1/3 of the jam and probably a 5 pound piece of fudge in my brothers suitcase.
Brett (the bro), my great grandma and me...

I did go to this pretty awesome extreme tree climbing place. Basically your doing obstacles 50 feet in the air with two carabeaners holding you in place!

This would be my brother....

And now I have like 9 days not even, and I have way too much stuff to do!!!