Matthew Osche
March 9, 2017

“Surrealism comes from the reality of Latin America.”- Gabriel García Márquez

Chile is a pretty fascinating place. They’ve got a unique way of doing things down here. It’s significantly different from the United States and like a parallel universe when compared to Norway. But I like the culture here. It’s a very rich culture characterized by a curious and compassionate people. The music, as well as the architecture, here is just as vibrant as the myriad cactuses and desert plants strewn about the arid terrain of the mountains that encompass my current home of Santiago, Chile. I have never seen anything quite like the behemoths known as the Andes that kindly stare down at me as I make my way to class. Often times I’ll gaze back at my massive friends while traversing the city. In fact, I nearly walked into traffic as I ogled at the new white hats of the mountains earlier today after the first snowfall in their high peaks (they really shouldn’t let me walk around without supervision). Whenever I got off the plane on my first day here, I had the thought that these mountains with their scarce vegetation and sun-bleached grounds mirrored the hills of Hollywood that I have so often seen in movies. When I mentioned this thought to some of my IES Abroad friends, one girl who happened to be from California told me that it was in fact exactly the kind of terrain that could be found at the city of Los Angeles.

It’s been a good first two weeks. Throughout this initial period comprised of daunting orientations and outlandishly long lines at Chilean Visa offices, I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with the handful of headstrong and intelligent individuals that make up this year’s IES Abroad class in Santiago. I’ve loved getting to know the other students as well as my host family, and so much of this experience reminds me of the fond memories that I have of my first days during my exchange year in Norway. But despite the fact that I have been enjoying my time with my new friends, these first two weeks have also been characterized by a lot of hardship. Every study abroad experience is bound to have its unique adversities. With this experience, my greatest challenge has been the language. While the majority of college students and many college graduates here can speak English, a vast amount of Chileans, including my host parents, cannot. With my basic knowledge of the Spanish language it’s been pretty difficult trying to express my thoughts, but I have been able to hold conversations and discuss some topics in Spanish. Not only is my knowledge of the Spanish language pretty limited, but Chilean Spanish is virtually a language of its own. For the average Spanish speaker, trying to interpret Chilean Spanish is like an American trying to interpret the speech of a drunk Scotsman i.e. it’s pretty difficult. On top of the rapid speed with which Chileans spit their words, I’ve been trying to grasp the many meanings and forms of the infamous word weon. Weon can apparently mean something as simple as the word “thing” in some circumstances, “dude” in another scenario, or even “idiot” in a different situation. And on top of all this, because languages are stored in the same region of the brain, half the time that I try to say something in Spanish, it ends up coming out in some outrageous coalition of Spanish and Norwegian. Moreover, because I speak English with some of my IES Abroad friends, I end up combining the three languages to create a language known by myself and my friend Nicolas as Spanglishigian.

All in all, the past couple weeks have proven to be both trying and rewarding, and with regards to the rewarding aspects of my journey so far, the one thing that was able to get me through my first week of migraines induced by Spanglishigian was the fact that after 2.5 years, I finally got to see my age-old Chilean friend Nicolas Moreno before he left Santiago to study in Germany. Those of you who read my last blog post know that I have been waiting to see Nicolas since the day we said goodbye to each other at the end of our exchange year to Norway in 2014. So two Thursdays ago I put my Spanlishigian to good use as I spent the afternoon with Nicolas and his girlfriend, Javiera. After eating dinner with my host family, Nicolas and I made our way to downtown Santiago where we met Javiera and spent the rest of the evening touring the downtown area and visiting one of Nicolas’ favorite bars. That night with the two of them was one of the best of my life.

The blare of practiced musicians beating steel drums collided with the haggard voices of the street vendors and the laughter of the night-goers as Javiera, Nicolas, and I made our way through the massive throng of people in Santiago’s downtown. I gawked at the Spanish Colonial architecture and the elaborate graffiti covered walls that I thought were better suited for the walls of the MoMA rather than the walls of decrepit buildings. And as we meandered through those crowded streets, I was greeted by a familiar feeling that I had nearly forgotten about during the span of time since I had felt it last. As I walked through the haze of Santiago’s exotic nightlife with Nicolas and Javiera smiling at my fascination for their home, I was met once again by the poignant sensation only felt in the most precise circumstances. I was there exploring the vast culture of Chile. I was walking through the bustling streets of one of South America’s largest cities. I had finally gotten out of the United States and was once again traveling the world. I was back in my element.

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Matthew Osche

<p>Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Matt Osche and my two greatest passions are my writing and my travels! I&rsquo;m just your average 20-year old college student trying to &ldquo;carpe diem&rdquo; while balancing my studies and my passions. Having grown up in Penn Trafford, PA, a small suburb of Pittsburgh, I&rsquo;ve come a long way from my humble beginnings as my semester in Santiago, Chile, is my second adventure after my junior year of high school spent in a small town outside of Oslo, Norway as a foreign exchange student. Take a look at my blog and read about my adventures here in South America!</p>

2017 Spring
Home University:
Penn State University
International Relations
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