Let me start off by saying again that I thought Chile would be a WHOLE different world. I mean 5000 miles from home is a long way. Though, I am not sure what I really thought would be different; honestly I had no real expectations of what life would be like here. On to the list!
My program adviser said to dress as plainly as possible so that you will not stand out. Well for me, clothes plain or not, I stand out a bit, but for anyone that likes dark, wild or random clothing I can assure you that I have seen Chileans with the same things. Valparaíso, which is barely a 10 minute bus ride away, is full of artsy and alternative dress and lifestyles. Here you are not really judged on your appearance, but for what is in your head and how you express yourself, which is nice.
Food is not the same everywhere so, future travelers, be prepared to try new things. There are “American restaurants” here: Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, Papa John’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Pizza Hut, etc. There is even a Taco Bell in Santiago. So do not fret if you are hurting for some comfort food from home because there are some things available.
Breakfast is normal here just like in the U.S: cereal, toast, juice, coffee. But things change when you get to lunch time. First off, be prepared for a later lunch between 1 and 3 pm, depending on the person, they sometimes eat earlier. Another thing to know about lunch is that it is the biggest meal of the day- several courses bigger. We are not just talking about a quick sandwich and something to drink to keep you going until dinner. I mean sometimes (a veces) the meals are considerably large to the point of needing and nap after (aka siesta). Most of my lunch consist of a salad, soup, main course and then coffee or tea with a pastry of some sort afterwords.
Yes, I know that this may seem strange to some, but that is the way of Chile. Then comes dinner which is what I would consider a quick lunch because it is normally just sandwiches with coffee or tea. Though, my host father did attempt to compare it to breakfast, but that may have just been an occurrence of the language barrier.
3. Your Things
Lastly, we come to the protection of your things. Though, it does not happen often or I do not hear of it happening a lot, but people do steal. Just like in the States. So with that being said do not be super flashy with money or expensive looking things, because like with anything valuable, if you look like you don’t want it, someone else will take it. I do not want this statement to scare you, but just always be cautious and play it safe by minimizing the amount of things you carry. For example use a small wallet instead of a purse, ladies. Though if you must carry a purse keep the bag in front of you when walking. Also, try not to put things into your back pockets if you can help it. I know that this was the hardest thing for me to adjust to as far as carrying things, because clothing designers make front pockets SO small on jeans and the back pocket is so much larger, but I had to adjust.
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