Chilean Differences

Living in a foreign country means I get to have all kinds of awesome adventures and see amazing places that I never could have dreamed of. But it also means that I start to notice the little things that are missing here that I have always taken for granted at home. None of them are huge differences, but after a while they start to add up and I realize I definitely am not in Wisconsin anymore. Here are just a few things I have never even noticed at home, but now appreciate even more after they have been taken away from me:

~Dairy products- milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream…  Coming from Wisconsin, it has been quite a shock to my system to suddenly arrive in a place where dairy products are rarely, if ever, eaten. Finding one random yogurt in the fridge today pretty much made my day- I think that shows how scarce dairy products are in this culture.

~Short commute time- I am used to living in a city where I can drive anywhere within 15 minutes, and studying in a university where everything is within walking distance. It is tricky to transition to a place where I need to leave at least an hour early every day to get anywhere in the city, because I need to take at least one bus and the metro to get practically anywhere.

~Clean air- Although the Santiago air isn’t terrible, you can definitely tell it is not the fresh air I am used to. There is a thick layer of smog that covers the city at all times and practically hides the mountains. It isn’t too bad at most times, but it gets hard to breathe if you are running or doing any physical activity (maybe that is why people here don’t seem to like exercising!)

Look at all that smog! Hopefully it rains soon so it clears up a little bit.

~Blinkers- Even the Madison drivers look good compared to the drivers in Santiago. Apparently people here think blinkers are overrated, because they almost never use them. Cars literally swerve throughout all the lanes as they drive, not even looking to see if other cars are in their way. They also don’t stop until the very last minute, which is quite scary if you are a pedestrian. On the bright side, Chileans appear to be the world’s best parkers: most of the cars are seriously parallel parked less than 2 inches away from one another!

~Hot Water- I am lucky enough to be living in a house with hot water in the shower, but it is still weird to try turning the hot water knob on the sink faucet and having nothing come out. Many houses in Santiago don’t have any hot water, however, and in order to get some for showering, you have to light a flame and start some type of water heater to avoid the frigid winter water.

~Central heating- Even though the Smaby family tries to avoid heating our house in the winter until it is practically below freezing, we make the Chileans look good! Because the winter is only 2 or 3 months long here, and rarely has temperatures below freezing, almost no one in Chile has central heating in their houses. This is fine during the day, but the nights get very cold- 4 blankets and a winter jacket and I still am not too hot!

Well, that is about it for now. This week has been busy orienting myself in the city, and next week I start classes at the Chilean universities. Tonight I am off to go salsa dancing, and tomorrow I cannot wait to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics!