An Adventure Abroad

By: Sarah Dodrill

Today marks the 40th day that we have been in Chile, and I have loved every single minute of it. There have been so many new things that I have learned, so many delicious Chilean food that I have tried, and so many amazing places that I have visited.

There is an extremely long list of things I have learned so far ranging from Chilean culture to the various slang words. Starting with the culture, there have been 2 major differences that I have noticed. First off all, Chileans like to party. And when they party, they go hard. Now, I am not of age in the US so I have never experienced clubbing, but I do know that US bars and clubs close at 2am. This does not even scratch the surface of a Chilean party. In fact, to them, the party is just starting sometimes at 2am. Needless to say, this has been an extremely difficult adjustment to get used to, especially when my friends say, “let’s go out tonight,” they are really meaning, “let’s go out at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning.” But hey, if I’m going to be up at 4am, might as well be having fun at a Chilean carrete!

This brings me to the second thing that I have learned a lot about while down here – the Chilean slang. There are so many slang words. It is almost annoying how many there are. Not only am I trying to better improve my Spanish while I am down here, but now I also must decipher between what is Spanish that I don’t know, and what is Chilean Spanish. For example, one time someone asked me, “¿Tomaste caleta chela en el carrete de anoche, cachi?” Now, if you are reading this and you don’t speak Spanish, no worries, you are in about the same boat as every person who does speak Spanish (of course excluding Chileans) because it literally looks like gibberish. When in reality, this person was asking me “Did you drink a lot of beer at the party last night?” with cachi being a word they use to confirm that the person understands what was just said (clearly, I did not). So, while many of the slang words have been a rollercoaster ride for me, I figure I should share some of my favorites: bacán – this word means cool, like “oh, that’s so cool!” (not brrr, it’s cool in here); onda – this word means vibes (hoping for ondas buenas the rest of this trip); taco – my all-time favorite, this word means traffic jam (so if I say, “estoy en un taco” it means I’m stuck in a traffic jam, not that I am, or want, tacos – even though I always do); and lastly fome – this word means boring or lame. Funny story with the word fome, someone jokingly thought it meant Fear Of Missing Empanadas (like FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out), but I love this person’s mistake because I know when I return to the US, I will have major FOME.

Speaking of empanadas, they are absolutely amazing down here. I swear, it’s like biting into a warm, doughy piece of heaven. I love them so much, that I dedicated one of my homework assignment to finding the best one in Concepción. So far, I have found many contenders, but I still believe that there is an amazing empanada waiting for me somewhere within these next three months. I figured, since I cannot share an amazing empanada with you lovely readers who made it past my long rant about slang words, I’d share a picture of me biting into one of my favorites.

I now figured I shall conclude this blog post with one of my favorite locations near Concepción. The Desembocadura, is the location where the Pacific Ocean and the Bíobío River meet and it is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been. Never have I seen such big waves from standing on a shore. All the exchange students at UCSC get to go visit the Desembocadura this Friday, and I cannot wait to see it again!

Never would I have imagined that I would be exploring a country so gorgeous with such an amazing group, but here I am, in Chile, knowing that it is by far the best decision that I have ever made. To anyone who has study abroad opportunities available, take them. You will not only learn so much about yourself, but also another culture, and you will gain a whole bunch of new friends from all over the world. Whether it be for 4 months or 4 weeks, the experiences gained will last a lifetime.