Seventeen hours in total spent from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Mexico City to then finally Santiago, Chile (add an extra 2 hours if you want include the drive from Philadelphia to New York). Being someone who is always up for an adventure I always spoke with such high spirits and excitement when I had told people about the fact that I was going to studying abroad in a whole other country, all on my own. As time went by and the date to departure got closer, my excitement turned into fear and nervousness. I remember the whole time on the plane, the constant watching of movies, the chowing down on airplane food, the tired shuffling on an uncomfortable airplane seat, were all just ways to keep my mind of the fact that it was happening.
But it happened. At first everything did not seem so different. Providencia, the area in which my student residency was located looked, to me, somewhat
similar to Northeast Philadelphia. All the corner stores, worn buildings, dirty streets and graffiti-ed walls were things I was used to seeing, but listening to all the civilians speak around me I could tell I was not home. Just to let all the readers know now, the reason why this article is called “Cachai?” is because it is a very common Chilean slang word that means “do you understand?”. It is very similarly used like “y’know?” in that it is just a quick validation that the person being spoken to comprehends what they’re being told.
Before doing any venturing out and exploring, I first had to visit the place I was supposed to be staying at and unpack all my luggage. There is no real way to get a picture of the building since it is kind of hidden in an alleyway, but I will provide the pictures I have. There are four floors with rooms for students on each floor (I live on the third floor which requires me to go outside), there are bathrooms on each floor, a kitchen on the first, and living room on the same floor. The pictures below are of my room (all the rooms are the same size, but may be arranged differently), the view from my floor, and the lounge on the fourth floor (which is outside as well as the third floor).
The rooms here might not be the fanciest, but I am easy to please and it was able to fit all my stuff, so I am comfortable. Plus, the administration here has been super nice and helpful to me and the students staying here are kind, social, and patient when I take my time to say something in Spanish.
Though the first couple days were mostly me just settling in and visiting all the buildings I needed to authorize my student visa, I did do a lot of sight-seeing. After finishing all the important stuff I needed to do, I headed to Mall Costanera. This place is shopping heaven! You can buy almost anything here! They have a lot of American stores like Aeropostale, H&M, Banana Republic, Express, McDonald’s, and even an Applebee’s on the fourth floor. The stores here are a bit pricey, so I did not buy much, but I did get a new pair of jeans, a tan coat (since the weather here is a lot more colder than I expected), a Chilean cellphone (to contact anyone if I need to, like the Chilean police or “carabineros” as it is said here), and groceries. Was not expecting to go grocery shopping here, but when I found a giant supermarket on the first floor, I thought it was only smart to get it out of the way.
With hands full of bags, I still was not finished with this mall. Also on the first floor was the entrance to Sky Costanera. Connected to the mall is a huge building called Gran Torre Santiago (64-story skyscraper) which is the tallest building in all of Latin America. Sky Costanera is pretty much access to the top of that building (you have to pay of course) to get an amazing view of Santiago and also the Andes Mountains.
Did not include my entire first week, but seeing as this article is already starting to get lengthy, I will cut it here. Oh well, there is way more for me to see in Chile anyways. In my next post I will show you guys my lovely campus; Campus San Joaquin of La Pontifica Unversidad Catolica de Chile!