The reason that I picked Santiago out of all the cities in the world is because I was hungry to be immersed in a new setting where I would be forced to practice my Spanish and learn about the Latin culture. All of this came to life, when I finally arrived in Santiago, and I got the opportunity to live and learn in the modern capital of Chile while being surrounded by peers who were also driven by the same goal.
At times, I cannot believe that I get to wake up every day, and hear and speak Spanish. The Chilean Spanish, like anyone and everyone will tell you, has a flavor of its own and sometimes, does not sound like Spanish, especially, when you are eavesdropping on a conversation between Chileans. All of this is resolved with time as your ear tunes into the words, and picks up the chilenismos and soon you are talking to someone and suddenly slips out a, “Sipoo” and you feel like you’ve sang a song and you’re a Chilean yourself.
Santiago amazed me from the beginning. It is a city that has a wealth of activities and opportunities to offer. It is filled with city parks, and is right next to the Andes Mountains for some casual weekend hiking. The public transport makes everything accessible as long as you know how to use your Moovit app and have your BIP Card charged with at least 2000 pesos.
The streets are filled with cafes when you are hungry for some refreshment and a small snack, like a medialuna (croissants). This place is a center of culture and you can’t miss out on it; whether you go to a foreign film in a fancy theatre or your host-mom takes you to a free youth orchestra concert, you will get many opportunities to see how the city works, the values that are embedded into people’s lives and where you fit into it all. The following images share why Santiago can be your home too.. por un ratito.
The Precolombino Museum of Art is an easy museum to get through and you get to learn a lot about the indigineous and native people that have occupied the land over the years. Here we went with our professor from our class so we had a guide to explain the importance of what we were seeing.
La Moneda is the "White House" of Chile. Though it does not serve the function of a house only the president's office space. La Moneda features flags around the entrance, statues of famous figures, a water feature, and a cultural center below ground.
The Estadio Nacional is infamous for its usage during the dictadura, but today it serves as a field for the National Soccer Team. After this photo we went inside and took time to explore and run a couple miles!
This photo shows a really valuable part of Santiago and the Chilean culture. Sundays are family and relaxing days, so many main streets and side streets are shut down and people are given the freedom to use them to skate, bike or run.
The National Museum of Bellas Artes is free and features interesting pieces.
This photo was taken in the hip and vibrant neighborhood of Bella Vista. It has amazing restaurants and an active night life.
The art featured here is available at the last stop of Line 1 of the metro. The Dominicos is known for the local artesans. It features many varieties of art and allows you to support the local artists.
A 45 minute or 1 hour bus ride away depending on where you are in Santiago, is Templo Baha'i. Chile has1 of 8 in the world. It is difficult to see the Temple in this photo, but the scenery is wonderful and the temple is extremely peaceful.
The view of the city from the Teleferico. The Teleferico is an aerial cable car to get to the top of the Cerro San Cristobal which is a must-visit to get a view of the city and to try out the Mote con Huesillos, a classic Chilean drink/dessert.
In the Plaza De Armas, is the Iglesia Metropolitana.
The Parque Araucano is beautiful place to spend a Sunday afternoon. Many people play soccer here and it also has a collection of cute eateries for an ice-cream on the go as you walk around the park.
This was a day where we had to wait in a long line for 4 hours to get ourselves registered to live in Chile. It was raining. It was cold. But, we were lucky that we had IES coordinators organize most of it for us which meant our process actually went by faster than normal people.
An advantage of being part of the program means that we get access to Club Chileno. A group of Chilean university students who help us get to know youth culture in Chile, and also help us understand what is going on around us when we have questions about the news, events, or the spanish language.
An easy 9 hour overnight bus ride away is this beautiful German town called Valdivia. Valdivia has native forests, german beer, and really great views of sea lions.
Lastly, Santiago is close to the Andes Mountains and every weekend can be an easy hiking weekend!