Some context…

I’m spoiling you with two posts in two days. Don’t expect this to continue.

At this time, I’ll explain a few things about living here that will help to provide more context. Some are basic, and some are complicated.


Decimal points and commas are reversed in Spanish. A given number, like 1,000.5 in English, becomes 1.000,5. Currently, one US dollar is about 500 Chilean pesos (still shown with a $). A typical meal costs about $3.000-5.000, or $6-10. More importantly, wine costs about $2.000-4.000 a bottle. Do the math, and I’ll wait for the jaws to drop.

You don’t put your toilet paper down the toilet. You throw it away. It’s hard to remember, but the pipes are very narrow; so it’s better to throw it away than have a clogged pipe system.

In Chile, dogs are not captured, put into shelters, and eventually killed like they are in the States. I’ve seen many, many strays wandering around in every city I have seen. Usually they are sleeping.


Both college and high school students in the Chilean public schools are on strike. Basically, they believe that the schools are run too much like businesses. Exams at the end of high school that determine placement in college are useless when it comes to how much money the student’s family already has. If they can afford to go to a good school, they can still go at get the same degree as those who work very hard to pass those exams but have lower financial means. So, the students took control of the universities and are not allowing anyone in to take classes nor work. For a while, the international program at the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso (PUCV – Pontifica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso) continued to function. However, since it’s something that PUCV is very proud of, the students decided it was time to get serious and put it to a halt. They came into the offices, kicked everyone out, and sealed the door with silicone.

So, I will be taking my classes in a hotel until the strike ends. Hopefully it ends before I leave, since I would love to experience a bit of college life here in Chile.

Students on the march. The red sign reads "I pay to study, I study to pay." (Photo via Prensa Latina)

After a whole day speaking Spanish, though, makes me exhausted. After about 9 pm, my brain starts to slow down and it’s hard to think as quickly. If I could think of an image to represent my brain in this state, it would be this:

2 thoughts on “Some context…

  1. Es muy dificil, hablando en espanol todos los dias, no? Pero, continua. Seria la cosa mejor que haces, te lo prometo. Tambien, me encanta las dos fotos. Son fantasticas.

  2. ¡Gracias! La primer es en la Plaza de Armas, el centro de Santiago, y la otra es en Cerro Santa Lucía, donde Santiago estaba fundada.

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