If you were to walk any fairly busy street in Santiago, I am almost positive you would pass several signs promoting Chipe Libre, a new Chilean telenovela on Channel 13. I had never really given it much attention until one day during Spanish class our profe told us that as part of our unit on Chileans and TV, we would have to select two Chilean televisions shows to watch over the weekend. Earlier that week, a friend had mentioned how much her host sister loved Chipe Libre and watched it online all the time. I thought perfect, I’ll just look for the first episode and watch that as part of my assignment. Despite the fact that Chipe Libre had just premiered the week before, there were already eight episodes online. God bless Chilean television networks. They come out with 4 new episodes every week and every single one is posted online and kept there. Xfinity could learn a thing or two from them. Being the avid Netflix binger I am, naturally, I had to watch all eight (don’t judge me).
If I had to describe my semester in two words it would be chipe libre, not because I am obsessed with this show (which I am) or because my life is filled with sex and drama but because this chilenismo perfectly captures what this semester has been for me—a break from my everyday life in the U.S. and an opportunity to try new things with very little consequences.
In the month I have been here, there are so many things I have done differently that I would normally never do back home. Something as small as learning to like carrots and rice, or prioritizing my health, sleep, and the amount of fun I have over completing all my assigned readings on time has made me a happier person. If it’s Wednesday night and I want to go out, I go out. If it’s midnight and I’m sleepy, I sleep. If I pass by a bakery, I’m hungry, and I see a muffin I want, I eat it guilt-free. If it’s Friday and I have nothing to do, I run around the park by my house and breathe in the not so fresh air of Santiago.
This is not to say I go hard every night, blow off my coursework, or eat the entire bakery every time I pass one (although I should probably cool it on the peanut butter seeing as I am probably single handedly keeping them in business). I am simply learning, as my Spanish teacher always tells us, “Hay cosas más importantes en la vida que la escuela.” (This may or may not be verbatim.)
Instead of cursing the rain for ruining my hair or soaking my shoes, I embrace it because I know it means the air will be a little less polluted and the cordillera (Andes) a little more visible. I have accepted that sometimes my personal space will be violated during rush hour on the metro, that sometimes I will miss the bus or take the wrong one and end up on the other side of town, and that although it’s extremely frustrating, I have no control over the crappy internet reception in my house. All of this has made for a happier and less-stressed Monica.
To mark my monthiversary in Chile, in addition to going shoe shopping with my host mom and getting some, according to my host dad, very lola boots (that means young and fresh), I also experienced my first earthquake. I think I acted appropriately (not nearly as terrified as the grandpa on Freak Friday).
If every month is like this one, this semestre en Santiago will be one for the books.
P.S. If you’re interested, here is the link to all the Chipe Libre episodes: http://www.13.cl/programa/chipe-libre/videos/capitulos
More Blogs From This Author
<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Monica is a junior at Rice University studying History, Latin American Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese. Although both her parents were born in Central America, Latin America is still very much undiscovered territory for her. Monica's current research interests include the re-democratization of the Southern Cone following the fall of authoritarian regimes in the mid-to-late 80s. Additionally, she is interested in the progression of human rights in Latin America and the political and social role income inequality has played within the development of Latin American societies. Upon graduating Rice, Monica is looking to pursue her Ph. D. in Latin American History. Aside from being a great opportunity for self-discovery, she looks forward to integrating herself into Chilean society and gathering research for her senior thesis.</span></div>