En Route to Santiago, a Stop in Boston

Thea Lance
January 26, 2019

“Sit down and be quiet.” A man in a dignified suit, crimson tie, and round wire glasses greeted me brusquely at the door of the Chilean consulate in Boston. As he hurried back into the office down the hall, I sat and took in my surroundings. Ahead, a stacked washer-dryer announced, “Consulate of Chile. Law Offices.” (Apologies for the blurry picture… it was taken quickly after being admonished the first time). The Chilean seal sat proudly between a wicker laundry basket and an exposed pipe in the ceiling. I had started my journey from school at 7 that morning, and was now in a basement in Brighton, Mass that serves as an honorary consulate for Chile, where I would be spending my next semester of college. It all felt a little surreal.

I shuffled through the documents in the file folder on my lap – passport, health certificate, letter of enrollment, and even an FBI-issued background check which had required me to go get fingerprinted at the local police station months prior. From the office the man had walked into, I could hear the ending of his last appointment – “Alright, have fun, and don’t drink too much.”

The door opened, and I was ushered in to a seat in the compact office. From his portrait on the wall, President Piñera smiled down at me alongside posters of events in Santiago and breathtaking photos of the Andes. The honorary consul, I learned, was not one but two identical twins, who bustled around on either side of me copying, typing, and stamping.

“Don’t copy the passport – I already did that!” one would exclaim.

“Your turn to answer the phone next time; these students have terrible phone service,” the other would shoot back, almost as if they forgot I was there, as if it were just two brothers in a living room.

After about ten minutes, one of them picked up my certificate of health and cracked a smile for the first time.

“So, you don’t have the plague?”

“I hope not!” I laughed, relaxed by the show of humor.

“Well, here you go. Have a great time in Chile.”

And with that, I was handed the papers for my visa. Residente Estudiante. Student Resident. There I was, staring out from the passport picture I had taken at Rite Aid stapled onto a certificate good for 180 days in Chile. Before that moment, the coming semester had felt distant and hard to grasp. For some reason, seeing my picture surrounded by Spanish words and stamps made it much more real. This meant that in a month I really would be stepping off the plane and into the home of a Chilean family, enveloped in the sights and sounds of a new city in a country to which I’ve never been.

I drove back full of the excitement and nerves that had previously been in the back of my mind, now made concrete by the visa. There are so many elements of studying abroad that I’m unsure about, from my language skills, to the other students on the program, to my ability to navigate living in a city for the first time. But the trip to Boston left me simply eager to begin my semester. With this last step down, all that lies ahead is Santiago!

Thea Lance

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.4pt; margin-right:20.75pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.5pt"><span style="line-height:103%">I'm a lover of adventure, whether that's climbing mountains or exploring a new city. This has taken me from my hometown in North Carolina to the arctic circle and beyond, and most recently to Chile! I'm majoring in Biology on a pre-medical track, and I am thrilled to be learning medical Spanish in Santiago this semester.</span></p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Williams College
Chapel Hill, NC
Biological Sciences
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