Things That Are Different In Santiago

One way streets. The street signs have the right direction on them, but the arrows on the ground are pointing the wrong direction, in my opinion. It confuses me so much, the people of this city should be happy I’m not behind the wheel here.

Pharmacies. Everything is behind the counter. And there aren’t lines- you walk in and take a number, like a 50s butcher shop or something (not sure if I just referenced a real thing). So if you want vitamins or meds or makeup… you have to go to the counter and speak to a pharmacist in broken Spanish, hoping they understand from your cough and tired eyes that you have a cold.

The Night Sky. I’m no astrologist but this is definitely different than what I’m used to seeing. I love stars. There are two super bright stars that I think are a part of the southern cross that are always so bright here. They help me find my way home, and also remind me that it’s night time and I should walk a little faster because you really never know what’s going to happen in Santiago.

Eating finger foods. Finger foods actually don’t exist here. French fries? You use a fork. Pizza? A fork. Burgers? A fork. I had this amazing sandwich for lunch – churrasco (like strips of beef), tomato, avocado, and mayonnaise – and I was so excited to dig in. But then I looked around the table and my civilized coworkers were all using a fork and a knife. So I conformed because 1. I didn’t want to look like a cave woman and 2. I already stick out at work lunches, seeing as I can’t keep up with the conversation enough to contribute at all. But honestly it just didn’t taste as good that way. (I’m kidding it was awesome I just miss being messy).

Excel. Excel at my job is all in Spanish. Which, duh, I’m in a foreign country. But it’s still a little hard to get used to, and i’m constantly googling the formulas for different things en español.

Courtesy. If you bump into someone on the subway, that doesn’t mean you say “I’m sorry,” it means it’s probably rush hour. If you’re not pushed up against the subway door and 3 other commuters, then you were lucky enough to find a seat. Which I’m scared to do because I feel like I won’t be able to force my way back out at my stop. Sorry is something I am so used to saying and it just isn’t used that much here. Not because they’re rude, but because I think they don’t feel the need to say sorry for every little bump or nudge on the street or in line at the market. Which, growing up Christian and in Iowa, is something I just don’t understand. If I offend anyone in any way I apologize. Even if I didn’t offend you I might apologize anyways. Sorry.

The Police. After reading a book on the time period during Chile’s military dictatorship, and hearing comments here and there about los carabineros and they’re many nicknames (most of them not nice), I’m so not sure how I feel about the police here. However, after seeing multiple protests on my street, and they efficient way they were handled by la policia, I have respect for the men and women in forest green. It’s an interesting dynamic between the police and the citizens here.

The language. This one is more of a joke because hahaha how on earth have I visited this country TWICE now and not been able to get a firm grasp on the language. I think maybe I just don’t have the ear for other languages. Which sucks because my goal was to learn like 4 and travel the globe. Need to find a plan b, that still includes world travel.

There are more things I’m sure. I’ll let you know.



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