Wow. So, true to form, I have completely forgotten what social media is and how to maintain my sites. Oops? Chile has been such and overwhelming adventure that it has been an ordeal just checking Facebook regularly.
As promised, I have compiled a list of things that are different from the U.S. and Chile. Keep in mind that this is Chile, specifically, and not general statements about South America.
1. The Chilean diet is bread, avocado, tomatoes, and liquor. I wish I could say this was an exaggeration, or a bad stereotype of South American culture. It’s not. I would be willing to bet my next paycheck that the reason bread is so popular (aside from it being dirt cheap) is that it’s really great at absorbing liquor. And, though I do love avocado, it was pretty surprising to realize that is on everything - even their famous Chilean hot dogs, called “completos,” which have an inch or two high of mashed avocado.
2. Chileans party much longer and more often than Americans. One of the biggest American stereotypes is how much we party, right? Not in Chile. The average American party ends – at least, on my college campus – around two or three in the morning. If you leave a party in Chile at two or three in the morning, either something has gone horribly wrong or the party is fatally boring. Parties end around five in the morning here, with much more liquor involved. Kudos, Chile.
3. Un beso, un beso. I was a bit more prepared for this part of the culture than others in my program, I think, largely due to my similar experiences in Mexico. Chileans greet each other with a kiss on the cheek and say goodbye the same way. Chileans are constantly touching each other. I didn’t realize how prude Americans are in comparison; we aren’t prone to really any sort of physical affection, be it romantic or platonic.
4. The hospitality here is aggressively friendly. The U.S. has a cultural attitude that is very individualistic. We don’t go out of our way to help others, as sad as it is to admit. Here, I have been helped more by strangers on the street in the past two weeks than I have in all my years in the States. A friend of mine, also living here, got lost recently. When she asked for directions, the little old lady pulled aside an entire team of construction workers, who then pulled over a delivery driver from the road, all of whom had a serious conversation about how best to get her home. When would that happen in the U.S.?
5. Time is a different concept down South. Don’t you dare show up at the time a Chilean tells you to show up. Don’t even consider it. When someone here says 7, they mean 9. It can be frustrating for an American, particularly one who has spent numerous years in cities with fast-paced cultures. But adjusting to this kind of time frame relaxes you. It’s a very “que sera, sera” attitude (whatever will be, will be), and living in that mindset makes for a more laid-back attitude.
Although I have only been in Viña for a few weeks, these aspects of Chilean culture are incredibly distinctive from American culture. None are necessarily better or worse, of course, but adjusting to them has been interesting to say the least.