Learning to Go with The Flow

By:  Chloe Landsverk

Today is our 45th day in Chile and we could not be having more fun. Time is going by so fast it almost seems like a semester isn’t enough time. We continue to learn new things every day, the biggest one being to go with the flow. Chileans run on a completely different time schedule than we do in the US, and we are still not used to it. To them, 8 am is an ungodly hour to be awake. When an event starts at a specified time, they show up whenever they want. I have been learning this as well as many other cultural differences with the help of my host family, who I am really enjoying living with. Here are some examples of the cultural differences that have really stuck out to us:

  1. When saying hello or goodbye to someone, whether you’ve met them once or a thousand times, you kiss each other on the cheek. If you forget to do this, they will make fun of you for it every time they see you. This form of greeting is just one example of how caring and affectionate Chileans are to everyone they know.
  2. Making fun of someone is a sign of love. Chileans like to joke around and sometimes you are the joke. This just means they love you.
  3. They eat A LOT. And they try to feed you whether or not you’re hungry. Just today, my host mom asked if I was still hungry, to which I said no, and then she proceeded to offer me a second piece of cake, a piece of bread, or some eggs. I definitely will not starve to death here.
  4. Shoes must be worn at all times, or you will get sick and die. A few of us have had colds so far on the trip, and our families were convinced that it was because we don’t wear shoes inside the house all the time.
  5. They do not always wear seat belts in this country. The day I arrived in Chile my host family laughed at me for trying to put on my seat belt in the car. Since then I have not worn one, and I’m worried I will forget it is a law when I return to the US.

Despite all of these differences, we are having a great time getting to know our host families and the city of Concepción, and everyone’s Spanish skills are improving greatly. We were told before our trip to be easygoing, but we are just now realizing how important that truly is when traveling abroad.