Kendra Murphy is my sorority sister, and one of my best friends in the entire world – even though we are worlds apart. I met her when I spent my year in America and we instantly became close when I moved into the White Castle. Kendra was one of my roomies and I hope one day in the future we can live together again (maybe in London where she can perfect her faux British accent). Kendra was born and bred in small town Iowa but she has always had a passion for all things foreign – particularly Spanish. This year she moved to Chile to teach English and this is her story so far:
After one of my most memorable and fun weekends in Chile, I feel more comfortable here than ever. I flew to the south of Chile, the region otherwise known as Patagonia. It is easily the most beautiful place I’ve seen in my ancient 24 years. This particular trip really made me think about the phrase “local tourist”, and how it is almost exactly how I feel at times living in Santiago, my “home”, and visiting other places in South America.
My 10-month anniversary is slowly creeping up on me, and like most things nowadays, the time has flown! In fact, I feel like it has only been 3 months. Then again when I think about all of the things I’ve done in these past 10 months, it seems a good amount of time. I originally came down to teach English, and after receiving my certification, I started teaching. It has been quite the learning experience as an English teacher. You’d think speaking a language your entire life would leave you with some technical knowledge of the language. Well, try to teach a foreigner all of the meanings of “get”. Jokes aside it’s a challenging, flexible, and fun job, plus very interesting to work with intelligent professionals who struggle with the past tense of English.
There are so many amazing things about Chile, most that I learned after I had been here a while, but some are obvious when you look at a map. This skinny little country has the driest desert on earth; some of the worlds best observatories; a coast of ocean and the opposite coast of mountains; a few volcanoes; beautiful Patagonia; and then the most southern part of South America… to name a few. And that amazingness is only geographical! Can you imagine the scenery? It’s too incredible for words, and pictures definitely do not come close to the real beauty. That’s what’s great about living here; we are able to see these sights in front of us most days.
Beyond the physical, Chile is a country with a lot of history, art, culture, wine, and bread. For those history inclined, you probably know that Chile was under a dictatorship up until the 80’s. As for me, I learned this after several months of being here, and it still blows my mind that not even 40 years ago this country was under such strict government control. I recently visited the Museo de la memoria, de Los Derechos Humanos, and there was an entire floor dedicated to this era. There were videos, radio shorts, newspapers, artifacts from prisoners, diaries, all of which made it more real that this situation not only happened, but in the recent past. This time obviously sparked a lot of opposition, and with that comes art. I’m not the biggest art connoisseur, but I have realized this country has artistic thinking, and it’s visible in their architecture, music, poetry, and those who produce the art. With a dictatorship come rules and restrictions, which perfectly transitions into my favorite subject, food.
Yes food is my favorite subject to talk about, especially while snacking, but I don’t want to get your hopes up. Chilean food is, to be polite, not spicy. By not spicy, I mean, bland. (Chileans, please don’t take this too hard, because food is food, so obviously I love it anyway) Here is a little rundown of the food situation in Chile. The overused condiments are salt, mayo, and olive oil. Bread is, kind of sacred. Don’t even get me started on the coffee, but I’ll say one thing – instant. On the opposition, meat is taken very seriously (I do have to say, I’ve had some of the best meat in my life here), and man do they know how to throw a BBQ. The desserts are more pastry-like, but supremely delicious. If you like empanadas, they have more flavors than you can think of. With 4000 miles of coastline, it’s inevitable that seafood is a popular choice.
With all of the bland, yet some delicious food, we have to wash it down somehow. A famous alcohol in Chile is Pisco. This alcohol is usually accompanied by coke, or I prefer it with Tonic. It’s a sweet liquor, that has a distinct taste, and hangover. Along with Pisco, Chile is wine country. You won’t believe me, but the wine is amazing, and cheap. Yes, there is a God. There is a special grape, Carmenere, which was originally only found in France, and mistakenly brought into Chile long ago. Since this minor mistake, Carmenere has been the rage in Chile for many years, and still today is rarely found outside of this isolated country.
After receiving this “assignment” from dear Saxony, I’ve been constantly noticing, even feeling my experiences differently. Things that used to never catch my attention or interest, are now intriguing for me. I think as a foreigner we’ll always find these new and interesting parts about the foreign or different place. That’s why we’re there, isn’t it? To have a new and different experience? Well, I don’t have that answer for everyone. But I may have found mine, and/or an epiphany. As I near my trip back to my homeland after these 10 months, I am convinced that we (everyone, people, humans) need to look for these interesting things/people/experiences in our daily lives, whether we’re in our hometown, favorite restaurant, or another continent. If we do this, we will forever be a local tourist, and my friends, that means our journey never has to come to an end.