Monday, September 12, 2011

Good News Bad News: Living in Santiago

Although teaching English in Santiago may have its many downsides, the few positives outweigh the negatives by far. My time here has only been sprinkled with a few bad experiences. When I finally decide to leave Santiago, I will take home the greatest souvenir- perspective. Living abroad truly enriches your life and instills in you a strong sense of confidence. If I can jump on a plane to South America, then I can do just about anything. Life is never without its bumps, but hands down, teaching and consequently living in Santiago has been the greatest part of my 24 years on this earth.

Bad News - Relax, there isn't much bad news when it comes to living in Santiago!

1. Expenses- Alright, everything here is very comparable to Texas (and I say Texas because it has a lower cost of living than other states). A trip to the grocery store costs about the same. In reality, this is only bad news if you have planned on lower expenses in a South American country. However, clothes and shoes run a bit high for the shoddy quality.

2. Less Amenities- I don't have a dryer, dish washer, indoor heating, air conditioning. To me, this is perfectly fine. Actually, I enjoy putting a little extra effort in hanging up my own clothes. Unless you want to pay a lot of money for all the comforts of your cushy life back home, enjoy this so called "suffering." It makes you a better person. 

Good News

1. Rent- I rent a room in a fairly large older apartment in Providencia. I pay about $260 a month and it includes electricity/gas/internet. My roommate situation is ideal. After I was hired at my institute, I had grand plans of finding my own apartment. However, compared to my month earnings, the feat is fairly unfeasible for a single person. Plus, if you do not have an i.d. card, I hear it's difficult to contract  internet service and it opens up more opportunities for someone to take advantage of your bright-eyed gringo-ness. On another note, finding a room to rent is another great way to meet people and practice your Spanish. It cuts significantly cuts down the amount of loneliness of the first month.

2. The City Itself- When I first arrived in South America I jumped off a plane in Buenos Aires. It was huge, the people were beautiful but cold, the downtown was a little dirty, the transportation was a nightmare, and I couldn't receive change anywhere. So, I was immediately relieved when I hit the streets of Santiago. There is smog and it may not be as fascinating as other cities, but it's the perfect first-time-living-abroad city: different enough to be interesting but similar enough to be comforting.

3. La Vega- This is wonderful. Just plain wonderful. The prices of fresh produce and everything else you could possibly want is sinfully cheap. It's about a 45 minute trek and a couple of hours of dedication. However, I leave with a bag (sometime a bag and a coche) full of beautiful vegetables, dried goods, and fresh eggs.

4. Wine and Pisco- Wine is good. Wine is cheap. Nothing is better than finishing classes a little early on a Friday afternoon, coming home, and pouring myself a little (or big depending on the week) glass of wine. As for pisco, the origin of this liquor is a huge debate between Peru and Chile. It's very difficult to find the US, but it's everywhere in Chile. Whether you like a sweet pisco sour or the ever popular piscola, you will have no problems ordering one at any establishment.

5. A Lot of Humans- I have met more people from around the world here than is anyplace in the US. Santiago is home to some very large university making it a hub for international students. I've met people from Sweden, Norway, Germany, France, Slovakia, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, California and almost every South American country. Whether you take a TEFL course, study, work at an institute, or just bum around, Santiago is a great city to meet other people.

DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! Move abroad, travel, open your mind, and change your perspective. Stop living with your parents or off of their money, step outside of the comforts of home, and enjoy something that reaches beyond the horizon of what you know. Sometimes it's difficult to read through pages of pathetic facebook updates. "My problem is this. My problem is that." NO! The problem is yourself. Now, do something about it and stop littering my newsfeed! Please, of course. :)

Life Currently: Aside from the impending excitement of the September holidays, the weather is by far the best part of this week. It has been in the upper 60's to mid 70's. Nothing brightens your day more than a dose of sunshine. Me encanta Santiago en la primavera! For the next three months, my goals are to eat more veggies, think more positively and kindly, and learn more Spanish. Just practicing for my trip home... which I purchased my plane ticket this past Friday!

La Malena- bad kitty, doesn't come inside when I call her!

air dried

welcome home

My first bottle of Pisco back last fall!


Joanna said...

Miss you, Katie! Seriously, I miss you. A lot. And I'm sorry for being a horrible friend and not skyping with you in forever. I have it on my phone now so I stay signed in, might be easier for us to catch eachother! I'm so excited to see you in December!

Katie said...

Joanna! I can't wait to be home to see you!! This December is going to be awesome. and YES, let's talk soon. I'll try to be on skype more often.

Ceri said...

"Living abroad truly enriches your life and instills in you a strong sense of confidence. If I can jump on a plane to South America, then I can do just about anything."

This actually means a lot to me to read right now because I feel like I'm going a little crazy before I leave for Mexico - having panic attacks and whatnot. I always felt like if I live there, it'll give me the confidence to do whatever I want and I'm so glad it's proving true for you in Santiago. :)

Do you guys in the US never hang your washing up? :) I read a lot on travel/expat blogs for South America that people adjust to not having a dryer and hanging their washing up to dry. We always do it here in the UK so I always find it so funny when people say they have to adjust to it. :) Hehe.