1. Dogs are everywhere. Stray dogs. And boy are they smart! They even wait until the light is green to cross the street. A friend of mine also saw one get on a bus.
2. Chile is dusty. Santiago is rather dry since it almost never rains (except sometimes during the winter). So our apartment is constantly full of dust. It also turns your boogies grey.
3. Chileans are short. Actually, the ‘typical’ Chilean person in my mind is very short, light to medium skinned, dark brown hair (girls usually have long straight or wavy hair), and brown eyes.
4. Chilean babies kinda look Asian. Super cute.
5. They speak “Spanish” really fast. (Oh, and they don’t exactly speak Spanish. There are so many ‘chilieanisms’ that even native Spanish speakers have trouble understanding.)
6. They eat a lot of bread and palta (avocado) and choclo (corn). So much so that I often forget the English word for palta!
7. The metro!!! Grr. I missed public transportation when I lived at home. Now I’m back to it and the metro here is soooo crowded at rush hour! You literally have to push your way onto the train, and then very awkwardly stand closer to everyone than you’ve ever wished without looking each other in the eye or talking.
8. There is no heat in houses or apartments. It is now winter. I’m cold. (Granted, the winters in Minnesota are way worse than this, so far, but this is still uncomfortable.)
9. Life is expensive here.
10. Demographics change as you move from West to East in Santiago. The farther west you are, the poorer the people and the farther east, the richer. Generally.
11. Chileans are very proud of their country and culture.
12. They like to protest here. It’s usually about free education or marijuana?
13. People dress with lots of layers in the fall/winter. And my favorite ‘fad’ right now is the really hideous fleece leggings all the girls are wearing. I might buy a pair if they are cheap because they are so awful they are almost awesome.
14. Girls almost always have their nails painted and lipstick on.
15. PDA. Couples don’t hold back in public. Young and old alike. Obviously the teenagers are the worst.
16. Customer service is quite bad. It can take forever to be served in a restaurant and most of the people working in the service industry aren’t exactly happy to see you. I’ve recently learned how little they get paid. It makes a little more sense now that they don’t give a rat’s ass about you. But still, would a little urgency, politeness and a smile kill you?
17. Some crazy person jumped off the top of the big mall about 2 months ago. I heard they were naked? Not sure if that’s true.
18. I can’t find dryer sheets here.
19. Chile is a very classist society. It really matters where you’re from and how much money you have. I’ve heard stories from English teachers who teach very spoiled kids. One even said that her favorite ‘toy’ was money because without it you are nothing. Yeesh.
20. Every first thought in my head is about food, but I’m trying to save it all for another post of its own.
21. So many smokers! There are laws forbidding it in some places, but I still can’t escape it. I’ve even seen people as young as 13 or 14 smoking. The pollution and smoking combined is bound to give me chronic bronchitis or something.
22. Chileans seem to really like Bruno Mars here. But they definitely prefer hard rock music and reggaeton over everything. A student told me that Pearl Jam is ‘modern.’ Am I the only one who disagrees?
23. Chile is kinda stuck in the 80s or maybe early 90s. I’ve seen too many fanny packs and scrunchies.
24. On Sundays this city is a ghost town.
25. McDonalds sells ice cream, but not milkshakes.
26. It’s not weird for a guy to carry a bag (almost like a purse) or even wear a fanny pack.
27. Most movies are in English (if they’re American), but have Spanish subtitles, except kids’ movies since kids can’t always read. This was very upsetting when I tried to see Rio 2 in theaters.
28. Winter is apparently artichoke and pomegranate season in Chile.
29. Elevators at some of my students’ buildings are pretty sweet. You select the floor and it tells you which elevator you need to go to (A, B, C, D, etc). Just don’t make the mistake of getting in the wrong elevator or you will look pretty silly getting off at the wrong floor and having to wait there for a new elevator.
30. I don’t like rain, but after it rains in Santiago, the pollution clears and you can see the mountains really well. They’re quite stunning.
31. How have I not mentioned the pollution yet?! It is so bad you can’t see the mountains that are right next to us. It is so bad that I have chronic cold-like symptoms (stuffy nose, nasty cough, itchy eyes). There is a website that gives you daily updates on the air quality index. Just to give you an idea, the World Health Organization considers <100 normal (better yet: 60-90). The other day I checked the quality in Santiago. Over 200. Not far from the quality in China. And apparently they won’t bother canceling school here until the level is over 500. Help me.
32. Traffic is pretty bad here. I have students from Argentina who tell me it’s worse there, but Chileans hate their traffic. Oh, and the word for traffic jam here is ‘taco.’ hehe. I prefer the Mexican/American ‘taco,’ thank you!
To be continued…