After 9 months in our apartment, Cadu and I are getting ready to move out and move on with our lives. With our leaving comes a lot of mixed feelings. Chile has probably been one of the most surprising(?) experiences for me/us. We had a lot of expectations for the country and the life we would have here. In some ways it didn’t live up to them, but in other ways it surpassed them. For anyone who has ever been an expat, you probably know what I mean when I say that I can’t really express what living here has been like or how it has changed me. It just has. A few months ago I wrote a post during my lowest point titled Culture Shock. As expected, I dug myself out of that rut and now as we are preparing to leave Santiago, I am hit with a bit of sadness. I think it has more to do with the closing of this chapter in my life and a little anxiety for the big changes to come than with me missing this place specifically. For reasons that are hard to explain, Santiago will always have a strange piece of my heart. It may be as surprising to you as it is to me that it has taken us this long to REALLY feel settled and at home here. It happened very gradually. And now, facing the fact that I have just had my last day of work at a job that I really enjoyed and having to say goodbye to the dear friends I have made makes me realize how comfortable life has become here. Last December I uprooted myself from my home in Minnesota and made the trek to a completely foreign land. Nearly a year later I feel as if I am uprooting myself from a new home and making the trek back to a place that won’t feel like the home I left behind.
Cadu and I have grown a lot as a couple and as individuals. We’ll always have Chile to thank for that.
I’ll leave you with some things I have learned in Chile…
1. To ignore the stray dogs. (Unless they are fighting.)
2. To drop my s’s. Graciah. Buenoh diah.
3. To forget about my personal bubble and force my way onto the metro with no regard to the people around me.
4. To buy things by the gram or kilo.
5. To kiss people on the cheek, even if they are American. It now feels strange to say goodbye with just a wave or nod.
6. To drink wine or pisco at every given opportunity. You can’t get the same in the US.
7. To accept the word media luna as a croissant. And also the liquid sugar that comes on top.
8. To combine the metro and bus to get a few free rides. Take that Transantiago!
9. To order Starbucks in Spanish and even pronounce espresso as if there is an x in it. And also to spell my name in Spanish because Kayla is just too different. I have had Kaila, Keila, Caila, and Kaida….
10. To use Chilean pesos. Big numbers are harder than you think. 1,000 pesos for bananas??
11. To choose at least 2 things off the menu because they never have the first one I order.
12. To live (sorta) without heat or AC.
13. To push past or suavely dodge the slow people on the sidewalk.
14. To not trust that the cars will stop at a red light.
15. To expect parades or demonstrations almost daily.
16. To be thankful for my seemingly low salary.
17. To buy produce at La Vega.
18. To have something to do when my students cancel last-minute.
19. To have 13-hour work days while only being paid for 6.
20. To take advantage of 1-day weekends.
21. To only drink terremotos at La Piojera.
22. To not expect people to fulfill the plans they made with you.
23. How to pronounce numbers in chileñol, especially for the purpose of adding money to my cell phone.
24. To have low expectations.
25. To tip the people who bag your groceries.
That is a pretty good start. I’ll update it if I think of more!
Time to finish packing and cleaning!