Waking up every morning to a view of the beautiful Cordillera de los Andes is the icing on top of this study abroad cake here in Santiago. I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, especially since Santiaguenses love their desserts (sorry all, my jokes have not improved).
Santiaguenses also love their slang, and I have picked up so many 'Chilenismos' while being here. Almost a completely different Spanish language, Chileans love to throw in the words 'cachai' (do you understand?) and 'po' (our version of 'like') just because they can. I never get tired of hearing Chilean Spanish; as grammatically incorrect as it is, it sounds so beautiful and rolls so easily off of the tongue. Becoming practically fluent in Chilean Spanish has been an accomplishment for me, though there are definitely still times I stare blankly at my friends hoping they will repeat the slur of syllables I barely understood (did he say Pisco or is that just wishful thinking?).
In all honesty, though, I feel so lucky every day to be a part of this study abroad program. Not only do I have the opportunity to work with the Ministry of Justice's Department of Human Rights, but I also have the opportunity to travel - and the geographical diversity of this country makes all of that traveling so worthwhile! They say that Santiago is a first world city in a third world country, and the amount that I have learned through my classes and through the people I have met in my travels have really opened my eyes to the contrasts between Santiago and many other parts of the country. Santiago is a livable, lovable city. I mean, I've had the opportunity to continue teaching Bollywood classes here!
Take a step out of Santiago though, and you'll definitely see the changes: multinational corporations and their factories lining the highways, luscious and never-ending patches of farmland, small houses with tin roofs, isolated country homes of the obviously wealthy. It's a different world. It seems that the single thread of continuity along the varied landscapes and structures of Chile is also it's very backbone, the backbone that I wake up to every morning: the magnificent Cordillera.
Credit for this blog post goes to third year Global Scholar Anjali Mehta. Thanks, Anjali!