Classy Gal

Taking 18 credits is terrible. Everyone will tell you it’s manageable which like, I mean I haven’t passed out from exhaustion or anything (yet), but it’s definitely not a fun time. However, taking 18 credits of classes you’re interested in makes it a little more bearable.

International Finance is one class that I was not looking forward to taking, but now I actually really don’t mind it. Exchange rates still confuse me like a lot, but it’s getting easier and it doesn’t seem as hard as everyone made it out to be. It also helps that I’m taking Globalization and Global Marketing at the same time. They all kind of overlap – for instance, we covered exchange rate systems in all three classes within the same two week span. So when I had 4 tests in one week, it helped that these three kind of matched up. Globalization is probably my favorite class right now. Professor Kappen has been some sort of advisor to me for the past three years, and it’s fun having a real class with him. The subject matter is always interesting, although I’m learning more about politics than I had really expected. Politics is too much like history and therefore not a subject I’m interested in. Global Marketing is actually a harder class than I had previously thought, mostly because the test we just had covered some super obscure facts and figures that I had not reviewed, and our professor finds some strange joy in not giving any As on his exams. However, he’s a real fun time in class, and makes most 8 am days start out nice and chill with a few laughs.

Consumer Behavior is a sweet class. As a marketer, this is a pretty crucial topic – you have to know how your consumer behaves, thinks, and makes choices. There are so many different factors that go into it (like personality, motivation, etc.). Luckily I’m in this class with some fun ladies and the best professor I’ve ever had (Edrington). She covers everything so, like, succinctly. I’m not sure if that’s the right word but I just really like the way she lays everything out so simply. She makes sure you understand with relatable examples and group exercises and the material is stuff I know I’ll use later on. I’ll be sad after this semester when I don’t have any more classes with her.

Then there’s E-Commerce. I don’t actually enjoy this class that much. Maybe because it’s at 3:30 (when I should be napping) or because the power points are black and white and the topics covered really aren’t. I just get bored. Tech related subjects are not really my thing. Unless it’s about marketing tech related subjects. Like the new apple iphone commercial where “the only thing that’s changed is everything” but like actually nothing:

I hate that commercial because at the end of it I’m left wondering why on earth anyone would upgrade to a phone where the only thing that’s different is that you can preview an email. Which, like, cool I guess. Anyways E-Commerce is a required course and that’s really all I have to say about that.

Lastly there’s Internet Marketing. That’s the class that is forcing me to write blog posts again in order to communicate my personal brand to all my fans (or future employers). It’s very interesting because I get to hear how all my classmates have their lives figured out and how I’m pretty much the only one who still doesn’t have a clue. A fun weekly reminder. I really do like the class though because marketing strategy is what I’d like to go into and internet marketing is something I’ve already thought a lot about. I love social media and this class is a really cool complement to the Integrated Marketing Communications class I took last semester.

All in all I’m loving learning more about the global economy, marketing techniques, the spread of culture, social media strategy, and the foreign exchange market. So 18 credits is fine for now.

Easily Influenced

My most embarrassing flaw is how easily marketing strategies influence my purchase decisions. Even now, while I’m studying the sneaky, strategic tactics used by these clever marketers, I see the wonder mop on tv and my first thought is always “this is EXACTLY what I need.”

I’m like a marketer’s dream. If everyone were like me, marketing would be a breeze. All I need to see is one semi-unique feature, a short clip of someone similar to myself using the product, and some kind of “one time deal” offer and I’m sold.

This also makes me the most basic girl in the world. Not just because of my loyalty to As Seen on TV products, but also because the company I am the most influenced by is Starbucks. Aka the most basic place around if you ask any wannabe social media influencers. But honestly I don’t mind being wrapped around Starbucks’ corporate finger. Their Instagram account makes me happy. Their tv ads relax me. Their loyalty program excites me. So as basic as they may be, they know what they’re doing. And they know their audience.

Starbucks has always been one of my favorite companies. You know it’s real because I follow them on LinkedIn. When I worked at Target I begged to become Bux certified, and the day that came to fruition was one of the happiest in my life (pls understand the mix of sarcasm and sincerity in that sentence or stop reading this post). Their training program emphasized quality products and super customer service. Which is a great representation of their brand, and my own to an extent.

In my consumer behavior class the other day we did an analysis of Starbucks’ brand personality by personifying the company, and let me just tell you we have a lot in common. We’re both just average gals who enjoy the finer things in life. If we were an animal, we’d be one of those kind of prissy cats that still like to snuggle sometimes. If we were a color we’d be something bright and fresh. If we were in the same room you wouldn’t be able to tell us apart. Our brand personalities are pretty similar, except for the area of humility and sincerity. I strive to make those a few key factors in my brand, but Starbucks doesn’t really take that route. Bux is like the older sister you look up to, who knows her stuff, is well put together, is friendly but not overfriendly, is super popular, and who has a great corporate social responsibility strategy in place (there wasn’t a metaphorical way to say that). It makes sense then, that as the youngest of 3, Starbucks is the cool older sister I’ve always strived to be more like.

I also look up to this brand because it kind of shaped my major here at Drake. When I was abroad in Chile, one of the first things I did was try to figure out if they had a Starbucks. They did. Two. Which was encouraging after reading all about Chile’s coffee culture, or lack thereof. I frigging love coffee, and the fact that they only offered nescafe most places was heartbreaking for me. It was nice to know I’d still have a little taste of home.

While there were other US companies and restaurants present in the area, Starbucks was the one that really stuck out to me. This is because they were able to stay completely true to their brand, while making small changes that helped them better market to their Chilean audience. The store set-up was exactly the same – it was a meeting place, a study spot, a relaxing go-to. But the menu was tweaked a bit – dulce de leche lattes, Bux brand alfajores , and jamon y queso croissants. It was the perfect mix of U.S. and Chile. I sat upstairs drinking my latte, working on my group project, and staring out at the beautiful blue ocean framed by palm trees (that was seriously what my view was). As a part of my international marketing class, we had to observe marketing techniques in our new city of Viña, and analyzing Starbucks’ tactics made me realize how interested I was in marketing, especially on an international scale. I came home to Drake, added my marketing major, and never looked back.

To sum up this mess of thoughts

  • marketing campaigns interest me because they work
  • international marketing is an exciting challenge, and as a result, where I want to end up working in the future
Starbucks Chile

After I became friends with the barista this past summer – note the correct spelling of my name that, every time before this, was spelled “Mary.”

My Personal Brand

So for my Internet Marketing class here at Drake, we’re required to start a blog. Which, lucky for me, I’ve been annoying readers with a diverse range of meaningless everyday nonsense to important world issues for years now. The point of this blog is a little different though.

I started Mollie Wheeler Drake as a part of an initiative from the marketing department here at Drake, to show prospective students and curious alums what life is currently like on Drake’s campus. The program was cancelled in July (thanks Marty), so Mollie Wheeler Drake transformed into just another personal blog that gets shared on FB by the writer’s mom and maybe her mom’s friends on occasion. Now I suppose it’s transforming again, as Professor Fleming forces me to find my purpose in life.

So what is my personal brand? On Monday, everyone had to stand up in front of class and tell our 40 classmates what set us apart from the rest. Some people said they were looking for marketing jobs in the digital realm in Minneapolis. My sophomore year roommate said she was looking to get into some kind of equine marketing (which she’ll actually be so fantastic at). As the line of people in front of me got shorter and shorter, I realized that my peers, for the most part, all know the specific job title, industry, and location they want to be after graduation. And as I looked down at my own spiel, which basically said “I’m a people person,” I realized I have no clue what I want to do with my life. And panic set in.

So I did what any young, independent woman would do in this situation. I called my mom. Immediately after class. Between this and Dean Blum’s “do you not have a job by now?” speech to us in class last Friday, I felt like I was completely behind in my decision making process, and if I didn’t act fast I was going to end up on her couch for the next year and none of us wants that. I don’t know where I want to live. I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know what industry I’d even like to enter. But to my despair, my mother did not answer her phone. And neither did my sister (who has yet to call me back now that I think of it, ty for the familial support). Luckily, self-sufficiency is something I pride myself in. Unless of course I have just entered into a time of crisis in which case self-sufficiency exits the building, and hysteria takes its place as I find myself staring at the 20 tabs open on my computer (grad schools, career paths, homework due tomorrow), letting my mind go completely blank to avoid from the inevitable meltdown that will follow.

Inevitable was a drastic word choice though to be honest. My mother eventually texted me back. She told me that the world is my oyster (as every good mother says) and that I am what every employer is looking for (again, mom, thanks but you’re required to say these things I think). But she also told me that I don’t need to decide about grad school right now- I have like 8 months left of school and to stress about where I’m going to continue that education can wait. Which was really helpful because I have so many different directions I want to take my education (global diplomacy? global management? international corporate law?) and I’d rather wait then to go down the wrong path. She followed this by telling me I don’t need to have my entire life figured out yet. And isn’t that a relief. I told her that one of my professors actually gave us an assignment that required us to tell our goals and the niche we wanted to enter. And she said maybe it’s time you narrow that down any way. So without further ado, here is my personal brand.

I am a people person. I love to make connections. I love to talk with new people, to laugh and make others laugh, and to learn new things. I pride myself in staying positive and optimistic even in tough situations and I think this can be a big benefit.

I love other cultures. I love to travel. I want to see the world and figure it all out. I want to learn about the tribes of central Africa and the business customs of Japan, while improving my Spanish and becoming more assimilated with the Latin American culture.

I want to succeed. I always work hard. From a blogging assignment to a 20 page Finance 170 term paper, my goal is to give 100% in everything I do. I love doing well for myself, and exceeding the expectations of the companies I have worked for.

I need to change the world. This is the most important part of who I am. I don’t want just a normal marketing job. I want a job where I know I’m positively affecting others. I want to update the CSR practices at a clothing company to address those factories mentioned in one of my latest posts. I want to work with the poverty gap in Chile and Bolivia. I want to feed the hungry and clothe the needy and fix the broken and help the desperate. There are just so many problems in this world. As optimistic as I am, I know that. Hearing the endless news articles about corruption and sneaky business practices and starving children really affects me. But burrowing under the covers won’t do anything to help. Listening to the news and letting yourself forget what you just heard because it’s too far away to impact your life won’t help either. Because if you’re not improving things, but you’re not making anything worse either, then you’re standing still. I need to make a difference in this world.

So if you’re confused, there’s really no niche in there. I don’t know if I want to focus on social media or print ads, sales or new product development. I don’t know if I want to work in ag or insurance or a non-profit. I don’t know how I’m going to change the world or what that entails in any way. But I do know who I am. I am someone who appreciates a culturally-diverse environment, who likes variety, who strives for success, and who will change the world someday. And that is my personal brand. I think the rest will follow accordingly.

As for my content for the next 10 weeks, you can expect anything from my personal customer relations experiences to my opinion on the Argentinian presidential elections. Because honestly, I’m not someone who fits in a little square box. I fit in a lot of boxes, wear many hats, however you want to phrase it. I am interested in so many different things, from soccer (not like to the point where I know players’ stats but like I enjoy watching games) to travel (but if you ask me where Turkey is on a map, I could not tell you) to coffee (although I just made my first successful pot yesterday) to communication methods to management theories to exercise to international economies to my sorority to local volunteering to fashion to global currency exchange rates. So for me to narrow that down is actually impossible. And therefore I am changing the assignment to fit my own version of my personal brand. Professor Fleming, I hope you enjoy these next few weeks as we all explore my many unrelated interests and I tie them back to my personal brand, however obscure that connection may end up being.

Stay tuned.

Happiness in the 515

Sometimes life is just happy.

Like when you get to spend your Sunday morning with your family. Including the sister you haven’t seen since May. And the nephew who can be a little monster but gives the best little monster hugs. And the other 3 humans who were there, making you laugh, making you roll your eyes, and most importantly making you food.

Or like when you sit down to dinner with your friends and barely have time to breathe between peals of laughter, because things just work with them. I love that I found my people.

Or like when your mom offers to make chili for 12 of your friends, and cater to that one friend who asks for mashed potatoes with her soup because she genuinely wants to make everyone happy. Even Cooper.

Or like when your dad likes the same tv shows as you and plans a weekly viewing party for the semester (party of 3). And your stepmom takes your car in to get the a/c fixed because she understands your crazy busy schedule and wants to make your life just a little bit easier.

How incredibly blessed am I.

How to relive freshman year

Senior year is tough. You’re now realizing that when they said “you have four years to figure it out,” you should’ve taken them seriously and figured something out. So let’s go back to freshman year with the top 6 ways to act the freshman part.

  1. That lanyard. You love the lanyard! What a convenient way to keep your ID and your keys all together and easily grab-able. Wear it around your neck – it’s like a necklace only more practical and, idk, maybe more fashionable as a freshman. Wear it sticking out of your pocket – that way you can access it very easily and you still have the fashion aspect. You want to be seen with that lanyard, that way people know you know what’s up.
  2. Always be confused. Whether you’re walking to class in a new building or figuring out how to get the books you requested at the book store, keep that confused, i-have-no-clue-what’s-even-happening look on your face at all times. Then people will know without a doubt that you’re a freshman
  3. Go to Hubble. What a wonderful world where endless buffets exist. Try the grilled cheese with apple slices in it – there’s absolutely no way that can go wrong. Get the sub, and work past whatever chewy goodness you just found in the meat they supplied you. Try the omelettes, always made to order and always just runny enough that you’ll definitely need both a spoon and fork to finish.
  4. Try sports. Go to a football game – everyone loves football right? And lucky you, you’ll have the entire student section all to yourself! Get involved in intramurals in anticipation of the unavoidable freshman 15. Quit after the second game though because volleyball just isn’t your thing.
  5. Be too much.  When you’re out, talk to everyone because they could be your new best friend for all you know. When you’re in class, answer every question even though you are definitely wrong (but hey, overconfidence is key!). When you flirt, make it count. Because you may be a 4 talking to a 9, but you’re a freshman and you’re built to last through these embarrassing miscalculations (aka 4 ≠ 9).
  6. Join a club (or twenty). After, reminisce on how empty and clean your inbox was before you decided you wanted to be in the outdoors club, and maybe get involved in fly-fishing, but probably also join a student senate committee. Who needs free time when you could be filling your days with activities, avoiding your homesickness and the realization that you are actually finally on your own.

Freshman year was a blast. But I feel like I’ve come a long way. I still have no clue what I’m doing like 80% 95% of the time, but I’ve wiped that look off my face in order to trick people into thinking I’m collected. The trick doesn’t work when you accidentally set your alarm for 8 am for your 8 am (see where that doesn’t make sense?) and walk in 10 minutes late. But for the most part I’m pretty crafty about convincing people I’m put together. That will backfire in May when I can’t bring myself to walk across the stage at graduation because I still have no clue what’s on the other side. But for now I’m gonna keep this going. Senior year I’m taking you on.

Heavy Topics

Our world has some serious issues to address. Today in international finance, we continued to touch on a subject that is clearly very near to my professor’s heart. We watched a video at the end of class (see below) that showed working conditions in the U.S. 100 years ago and how little we have learned since then.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire occurred in New York in 1911, and killed over 100 young women. As a result, the U.S. came together to fight for factory worker rights and fair working conditions. And we got them! How fantastic for us to figure out the appropriate way to treat people for once (as long as they’re our people).

Now, 100 years later, these same working conditions that we protested before continue to exist all across the globe. Just not near enough for it to matter. The Bangladesh factory fire, described in the video, was so similar to the Triangle Shirtwaist incident. Except this time, I feel there should have been even more cause for protest because there is actual footage. There are videos of workers jumping from windows in a last act of desperation, of reaching out for help even though they knew they were trapped and there was no hope of survival. And if watching that does not make you feel anything, you need to reevaluate yourself.

I don’t remember seeing footage of this a few years back when it occurred. I don’t remember a call for change. I don’t remember it affecting my life in any way. So if there was coverage, it was minimal. And while a U.S. factory fire sparked a flame in our country to fight for basic workers’ rights, the ashes of the same fire in Bangladesh were easily brushed under the rug and forgotten about.

How does this make any sense? What is the difference in their lives versus that of our own neighbors and friends? It’s the distance. It’s the convenience and price of the products that are produced from these slavery-like conditions. It’s the fact that we don’t feel connected to these foreigners in any way, so why bother helping. But these people – the 29 workers whose lives were taken due to the terrible conditions they were forced to work in – they are someone’s neighbors. And if their families and friends can’t speak out against these conditions, at the risk of being beaten or shot at or sprayed down with a water cannon, then who will?

Maybe it should be those who are benefiting. Maybe it should be you, who pays plenty of attention to the price tag and completely ignores international news. Maybe it should be me, who bought a 12 dollar pair of slippers from Walmart last Thursday, when the person who made them spent 15 hours in a dark room with no breaks, walking away with a dollar for their time and effort.

I cannot even tell you the guilt I feel now, wearing anything with a “made in” tag from China, or Haiti, or Vietnam, which is everything I own. Some of these places I’m sure have figured out a way to treat their workers fairly. But I don’t know which shirts were made in those factories, and which shirts were made in factories where 14 year olds waste away their childhoods.

It is so important to make it clear to companies that this is something we as consumers care about. Maybe as sales decrease and dissatisfaction rise, companies will finally understand that we don’t just want cheap, because if human lives are being lost then any cost is too high.

When you want to make a purchase, do your research. Buy from a company without a sketchy history of human rights violations in other countries (like Gap and Walmart). You are taking a side with every purchase, and do you really want to be on the side of child labor? Of poor (or no) wages? Or sexual harassment that goes unaddressed? Of unsafe working conditions? Of inhumane treatment?  Whether you want to or not, that is the side you’re choosing when you purchase without considering the origin of your product. So just think about that.

Classes @ Drake

So I feel like for the past couple of semesters I’ve given my readers an unsolicited rundown of what my class schedule looks like. And every semester I say the same thing – that I’m majorly excited because my classes all seem super interesting. I’m just now realizing how incredibly lucky I am to be able to say this. A lot of college students have at least a few semesters where they are dreading each and every one of their courses. But after I leave every first day of class here at Drake, I’m actually pumped to see what the semester has in store for me.

I think Drake is great at customizing your path. For instance, I wanted to learn about culture. That was basically my one and only request when I entered this university. So they placed me in International Business. Now, not only do I get to learn about culture in almost every class I take, but I also get to learn about business, which is how I decided to add my second major, marketing. Along with this double major, I’ve been able to complete a semester abroad and a certificate of competence in Spanish. What an incredible way to combine everything I love into my four year program.

This semester I’m taking Globalization, Global Marketing, Internet Marketing, International Finance, Consumer Behavior, and Electronic Commerce. All classes that apply to my life, apply to my interests, and apply to my future career.

When I graduate, and someone asks me my major, I’m not just going to say IB/Marketing. I’m going to say I focused on International Business from a Marketing perspective, looking specifically at how cultural aspects affect international trade and promotion, and within that, concentrating on Latin America: their culture, language, geography, and current economic state. I was also able to take classes specific to my marketing interests, such as Integrative Marketing Communications and others that helped me learn more about social media and the ad campaigns that can be used with this channel.

Like that’s not something I even had to prepare. That’s just naturally what I would respond if someone asked me to go more in depth about what I’ve learned in my time here at Drake. But the only reason that’s natural is because of how the business school and language center have helped me grow and have shaped me as a professional.

I’m just really happy about choosing this school. And I cannot wait to see how my senior year turns out.

No Hay Segundo Sin Tercero

(for contextual support I wrote this two days ago in the airport at like 5:00 AM, enjoy)

As I sit in the airport, back in the US of A, I can’t help but to start planning my next adventures. I want to go to Europe, Spain specifically. I want to return to South America, to see Machu Picchu and Patagonia, everything I missed the first time. I want to return to Santiago and Viña del Mar, to visit friends and enjoy my second homes.

This is what I did the first time I got back to the US, after studying abroad last year. I immediately started planning trips to see my abroad friends, tried to map out ways to leave the country again, really anything I could do to relive my incredible semester. This time, my future planning is not in order to grasp at the past, but rather to continue my growth, to continue learning about new places, to continue to meet new people and adapt to new cultures. A continuation. Moving forward.

As I move forward though I am looking back at the past. My first semester abroad, where I learned about change, ambiguity, language barriers, love, home. My year back in the states, where I learned about independence, heartbreak, strength, and determination. And now my summer in Santiago.

This summer was an incredible test for me. I realized that (and this may seem obvious for some) you cannot relive the past. No matter how hard you try. Once I understood that, it was much easier for me to look to the future, and live in the present. I made new memories with old friends, and made new friends with old cab drivers. I showed love to my favorite street dogs, learned more Spanish, and explored a new city all by myself. The first two months were more of a struggle, as my 8:30 to 6:30 daily, unpaid internship, while interesting and highly beneficial, was basically all I had time for during the week. I didn’t get to travel the same way I did the past year when I was a student, and I didn’t have a solid group of friends to rely on (there were zero other interns). I ended up making temporary friends from all over- some Chileans, some gringos, a Britt here and there.

While the first two months in Santiago were difficult, they were also incredibly beneficial for my professional and personal growth. However, my favorite part of this experience was my 6 day trip to Argentina. I met people from all over, toured a new city, and visited my 2nd and 3rd foreign countries. This was the greatest reminder for me that I love to travel. Even more, I love to travel with someone. My German friend who had studied in Viña was also in the city at the same time, a bit of luck and fate working on my side. It was awesome to have someone take lame city tours with me, and visit cafes, and talk to about travel and the future (she’s coming back to Chile to find an internship and be with her Chilean novio after she graduates, it’s a cute story). Travel is just more fun when you have someone to joke with and complain with and explore with. On my own though, I discovered that I love Buenos Aires, like crazy love it. It was gorgeous with it’s plazas and cafes and shoe stores… I had fallen so hard for Chile that I didn’t even think about all the other places out there that might hold something for me. So I’ve got to keep going.

My next stop is Salamanca, Spain next January, to take a class in Spanish and maybe see a little bit of Europe. After that, who knows, but I’m positive I’ll return to Chile some day. My host sister, on our Sunday walk (trek… it was miles and I was wearing my new Argentine platforms, bad decisions follow me daily), told me this “no hay segundo sin tercero.” And that probably isn’t word for word or maybe not even grammatically correct but the point is, there isn’t a second visit without a third visit. I said I would return, and while not everyone was as 100% sure as I was, I did it. And I’d like to do it again.

For now, I am happy (ecstatic) to be back where I belong (for now). To see my family tonight and to eat buffalo wings (and ranch dressing!!!) tomorrow night with some of my favorite girls. Viva Chile, but I <3 DSM.


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Argentina: Another collection of short stories

IMG_4928These Cab Drivers, I Swear

The taxi drivers in South America are the best breed of people, I’ve decided. After arriving in Argentina on Friday, I found my cab driver holding a sign with my name on it (which would have been more exciting if it was spelled right, tbh). He helped me find the atm and then the car. On our 30 minute drive into the city from the airport, he allowed me to practice my broken Spanish with him and even complimented me on my level of competence. I legitimately could understand everything we talked about (probably because it was about accents and rain and language learning and travel, things I have words for in Spanish). It was the absolute best way to start a solo trip to an unknown place, real confidence boost.

On my second to last night, I also took a taxi. He lit up a cigarette (which apparently it’s illegal to smoke and drive in Argentina, who knew) and we got to talking about basically everything: foreigners and Argentina and food and politics and Spanish (again, because I’m really good at saying “I’m trying to learn, but it’s super hard sometimes” en español). Just meeting total strangers who make you feel special really renews your hope in humanity (and I hope the taxi drivers go home and say the same. i officially understand why my dad makes airplane friends (more on that later)).

I Left My Heart (& My Charger) In Argentina

Like wow I loved Buenos Aires. But one of my favorite things was just getting to travel again. If I had gone to Peru or Bolivia I think it would have been just as incredible of an experience, although Buenos Aires is one of a kind and definitely a place I hope to return to. Travel is just such a cool thing. I met people from Portugal, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Peru, Uruguay, New Zealand, Brasil, and the U.S. And it’s not just that I met them, I made memories with them. Memories I will not soon forget. Like clubbing on a Tuesday or seeing a movie for 50 cents or visiting a cute town in Uruguay for a short day trip.

I also learned a lot about my organizational skills. I tried to make an itinerary for this trip (which I promptly lost soon after entering the country) but that was as organized as it got. My side of the room was a trainwreck 5/6 of the days I stayed there. I checked in super last minute to my flights. I walked home from the bus port without a clue as to where my hostel was (because a taxi was 20 bucks and I am not made of money, like come on). I had to be reminded last night to pack up my ish since I was “leaving in the morning, remember?” So basically what I learned was that I must have a really special guardian angel to have survived this long in a foreign country. The girl I met from New Zealand had all 50 of her days in South America mapped out. From tours to busses to maps from one hostel to the next. And I’m sure that works for some people but I would be so nervous about losing everything I would probably end up more lost and confused that without any direction at all. If my future employer is reading this (because ayoo it’s on my resume and my linked in), please note that 1) this is now a personal blog, not a marketing blog and 2) everyone has their own style. I’m semi organized it’s just hard to explain to people how exactly that organization works.

Also I guess to explain this title, I luv BA and I left my charger at the hostel (my only casualty, not bad at all I’d say).

en la boca, cutest area of the city

en la boca, cutest area of the city

I Bought A Pair Of Platforms

And I have no regrets. Aside from the few times I’ve slipped a little bit. I’ll blame the rain and the super smooth floors at the metro (I almost fall in normal shoes most of the time). They’re not like extreme but what I’m trying to say is that I’ll basically be the most fashionable person in Iowa when I return.

Two Marriage Proposals

Must be because I’m so fashionable. (see previous 3 sentence short story)

Number One was at La Boca, a touristy part of town that, if you step too far to the left or the right, could turn into a dangerous neighborhood (it’s like Drake, to the east). This was not actually a marriage proposal, and while I’m on the subject the second one wasn’t either. But some guy was handing out flyers for this cafe and said in Spanish “if you want to have a coffee or something later (he was promoting the cafe there not himself) or if you want a boyfriend later– I cook and clean (he was promoting himself there not the cafe).” It was funny but maybe one of those had to be there moments. But also a moment in which I realized that I could now joke around in Spanish. So one of my favorite moments of the trip.

Number Two was on the flight home to Santiago. I sat next to a mother and daughter from Peru. I was completely ready for a nap but it was not in cards for me, because la señora to my right was an airplane talker. I only like 75% of airplane talkers (because if it gets creepy or annoying or boring, you can’t leave). But as I said before, strangers can sometimes be the nicest. I understood maybe half of what this lady said to me but I think we talked about fish at one point. She said I needed to visit Peru, which of course I would love to visit Peru someday, Machu Picchu is like a dream of mine. So she gave me her address and full name and phone number and email, in case I ever did come and needed a room. I almost cried because some people are just so open, especially down here in South America, and I love it. She continued to attempt to set me up with her son, although she became a little hesitant when she asked if I could cook and I answered honestly. We laughed about my cereal and toast joke but I could see the disappointment in her eyes.

Always Look Up

For those of you who have read some of my other posts from this summer, I’m sure you know this wasn’t exactly the trip I had planned on. I had a really hard time always finding the silver lining, even though I’m actually a pretty positive person. I even wrote a post on how I love to find the beauty in everything and was having a difficult time finding it here. One thing our tour guide said, on my second day in Buenos Aires, was that sometimes in order to appreciate the beauty of the city you just have to look up. What she meant was that some of the ground floor stores or doors or windows are kind of ugly looking, but when you look up, you can see the amazing architecture, the eclectic buildings, the never-ending ivy covered balconies.

What I forgot to do a lot this trip was look up. And this was such an amazing chance for me to do that. As I spoke to my roommates on the first day, in Spanish, that mostly made sense, I finally looked up and realized how much more comfortable I am with this language. Give me a menu and I can find something I’ll love. Give me an address and I can ask someone for directions. Give me a New Zealander who has been in the country for just 24 hours and speaks very very little Spanish and I can help her change money on the black market (this isn’t as illegal as it sounds (that’s probably a lie, we got led like 3 different places before we finally got to change our money in the back of some random restaurant with a guy who actually looked like a rich mobster, so cool)). Sorry for the tangent but last year at this time, I couldn’t do ANY of those things. I learned so little my first time in South America compared to these past few months, in regards to the language at least.

Even the culture though– I’ve become a part of a new culture without realizing it was even happening. I’m consistently late (a custom I kind of like honestly, bc in the U.S. people get annoyed when I’m late but like I have a lot going on, uk?), I eat bread and cheese as a full meal, I’m pretty into tea, I know a lot of the modismos and slang from Chile, I eat lunch at 2 and dinner at 8, and I know how/when to use public transportation. When people ask me if I’m from here, not only do I beam with pride but I also start to consider whether I could actually live here one day. I defend Chile’s claim to pisco against Peru, I brag about our Copa America win, and I laugh at the fact that their Spanish really is the most difficult in South America.

While I was looking at the excel spreadsheets on my work computer or the subway that just arrived full of people or that one shop owner who refuses to try to understand my Spanish, I forgot to look up. Santiago is BEAUTIFUL, and I have learned so much during my time here.

(I learned more about myself as well but that would be a sappy paragraph to read so just know that I now feel braver and happier than I have felt in a long time and I am so ready to take on my senior year.)

this might be congress but don't take my word for it

this might be congress but don’t take my word for it

with my drake frand calleigh and the obelisk in the background

with my drake frand calleigh and the obelisk in the background

sunrise on the way to uruguay, from the boat

sunrise on the way to uruguay, from the boat

Mi Último Día

My walk to work is always interesting. I leave my apartment, slamming the door because there is absolutely no way to shut that door quietly, at 8:00 am. Walking downstairs and outside, sometimes there is a cat. He is loud and friendly, I enjoy his presence.

Walking down Obispo Salas, the name of my street, I see shop owners sweeping the leaves off the sidewalk as they get ready for the day. I also see the white paint splatter on the ground, from some protest held here about a month ago (before dawn, it was a nice wake-up call). Turning the street onto Condell, I see everyone else on their way. To work or school or home. If someone is walking a dog, I smile at them. Otherwise I stare blankly ahead, like a true Chilean.

Now I can see Cerro San Cristobal. The center of city (from my perspective). You can see it from almost anywhere. Mother Mary has her throne at the top of the hill, blessing the city, joined today by 8 or 9 (holy?) cell towers. Turning onto Calle Providencia, the fast pace of the city hits me. Cars speed by, honking impatiently and swerving around each other (miraculously I have yet to see an accident, although I have almost gotten hit like 8 times. I need to pay more attention). People here run to the bus stop, because they’re mostly likely running late. At this point, the frigid Santiago air that caused me to leave the house with a coat is no longer a match for how hot I got from walking 7 blocks. Like there might be something wrong with me, I’m always overheated (is menopause a thing for 21 year olds?). I pass tall buildings on my right, a park across the street on my left. Here I see a church that’s gates have been locked since my arrival, but it’s beautiful and it always makes me sad that no one really gets to appreciate it anymore.

Crossing to the metro station, I pass the street vendors (shoe inserts, ear buds, scarves, boxer briefs – name any random item and there’s probably someone selling it on a street in Santiago). They joke around with each other in between repeated chants letting you know how cheap their quality products are. Cross under the street to the actual station, there’s always a few straggling salesmen that are usually gone (aka told to leave) before I return that evening.

The subway ride is the most dreaded part of my day generally, but it is significantly easier to handle in the morning. I’ve got the system down- I walk to the end of the platform and sort of play the field to see which cars people get out of. And then you like walk run to the nearest one with an opening and shove your way on. I’m a PRO. I stand by the door so my hot flashes don’t overtake me in this humid underground box full of people.

Coming up the subway steps at El Golf, I already described to you the way the mountains look. Snowcapped and beautiful and double trouble with their reflection off of the buildings. At this point I’m running late so I don’t really take in the sights as much, but they’re mostly just buildings and restaurants and cafés.

Then I enter my office building, say hola to the two guards, wait for my elevator, and I’m here.

Writing this, I’m literally packing up my stuff to leave and I can’t really believe it’s been two months. I was so blessed to have this experience and to be able to work with good people. I’ll definitely miss it.