FIN – Gracias a todos ustedes por su ayuda y buena onda. FUE BKN!

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OK so I do agree it’s been 5 months since I’ve been back in Europe and that I should really have updated the blog WAY before but I still think that doing my last two articles on the 1st of January 2014 is a good date as it’s the moment to be grateful for everything I’ve experienced in 2013 and OBVIOUSLY Chile was THE most incredible thing I’ve ever lived :) This is mostly due to the amazing people living in Chile who integrated me so nicely and made me discover bits of the city, of the country and of everything else. It was an AMAZING experience, thanks to all of you. ¡Gracias amigos tan queridos!

As a thank you I took pictures of my closest friends, or better said those who helped me or made me discover bits of Chile by inviting me to visit parks, restaurants, took me dancing, took me to the countryside and made me meet their families,  etc. The only two people I did not manage to get pictures from are Juan and Eduardo but you are in my heart anyways :) I am also missing Jose’s portrait as it was taken on my film camera. Gracias a todos.

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____LUIS ____________ DAVID __________ SERGIO

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__DANIEL ________ SEBASTIAN ________ FERNANDO

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_____IGNACIO _______ DIEGO __________ ANIBAL

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_____MANUEL _______ CRISTIAN _______ SAMUEL

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____DAVID __________ RICARDO

 

Luis gracias por haberme invitado a bailar salsa “abajo” con los intermedios/avanzados porque tenías fe en mi manera de bailar salsa. Gracias un montón por haberme dado esa confianza!

David gracias por tu amistad y por haberme invitado en tu linda familia dos veces.

Sergio gracias por el baile, el baile y el baile. Pero también por haber compartido mucho sobre tu cultura.

Daniel gracias por la buena onda, por la ayuda con mi español, por las caminatas en la ciudad, por la música, por la invitación en tu pueblo y en tu familia.

Sebastian gracias por tu locura, el bouldering y por nuestra ultima caminata loca en Santa Lucia jajaja qué entrete!

Fernando gracias por la muy buena onda, el baile, y el último café el día en el que me fui.

Nacho gracias por haber sido el mejor TANDEM del mundo :)

Diego gracias por la salsa, la música y por haberme invitado en tu familia muy simpática.

Anibal gracias por el baile bakan y por nuestra locura :) también gracias por la salida en bici! Nos vemos en una semana!!!!

Manu, no hay palabras, gracias por todo: el baile, las caminatas bajo el sol o la lluvia, las iglesias, los restaurantes, el café con piernas etc y por haberme acompañado al aeropuerto :'(

Cristian, gracias por tu sonrisa, las confesiones, tu buena onda cuando mi familia estuvo en Chile, y mucho más.

Samuel, gracias por tu amistad, las caminatas durante las cuales hablábamos de cosas muy filosóficas y por nuestras fotos :) gracias por todos los skypes también!

David, gracias por la buena onda, el auto bakan y el finde tan entre en Valpo!

Ricardo, gracias por todo, fue muy lindo conocerte y tan simpático pasar un finde completo contigo. Me encanta tu energía y positivismo.

Juan, gracias por el baile, fuiste mi primer pareja de baile pero también la persona que me hizo descubrir la salsa en la cato. Gracias por haberme hecho visitar el parque Quinta Normal primero también :)

Jose, el primer chileno que conocí de verdad jajaja gracias por tu locura y por haberme hecho descubrir el lindo barrio lastarria ya que no eres de Santiago. Y gracias por haberme introducido al Eduardo :) Ojala que estés bien en el país más fome del mundo aka Francia ;)

Eduardo, merci pour tout, c’était super de te connaître, de cuisiner et parler avec toi, de découvrir le … kendo qui ne s’appelle pas du kendo etc. Vive Noir Désir ;)

A todos, tantas memorias, gracias por todo, nos vemos en septiembre :) Sólo faltan 8 meses ;) (y lo siento si hay faltas de español, hace 5 meses que no he podido practicar mucho!)

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Grand Finale. Boliva & Arica.

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As we had lost most of our pictures of Bolivia while connecting my camera to a stupid Bolivian computer (well, they couldn’t be read anymore), it took us a while to get them back and we only managed to access them once in Europe thanks to my dad’s help… ANYWAYS I then went on my bike tour, studies etc and never got to post them so as a grand finale here are the pictures mostly from Bolivia and a few from Arica in Northern Chile.

Bolivia was an INCREDIBLE experience, such a different country from Chile, way way poorer, and La Paz was definitly a CRAZY city!

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The witches’ market: it smells very weird and they sell lots of strange stuff such as DEAD llama foetuses (left foto, top of picture)

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The Cholitas: they are everywhere in La Paz and they are the ones who rule markets and life in general in the city. The wear HUGE skirts which are actually a pile of skirts and underskirts because women with big hips are seen as more desirable by men because more capable of bearing lots of children.

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The Tiwanaku ruins are from a pre-Inca civilisation and they are present in one of Tintin’s books: everyone knows the famous ‘Gate of the Sun’ or ‘Puerta del Sol’ or ‘La porte du soleil’ which can be seen on the big photo.

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These are pictures from our 3-day walk. We started at the beginning of the Camino de la muerta (well we did a bit of the Death Road by bus but not the most dangerous one) therefore starting at 5,000 metres high in VERY cold and wet condition and then went down 2,000 metres in a day thus finishing at the entrance of the ‘Junglas’, the tropical forest. The picture with the swimming pool is Coroico, popular for its cocoa and coffee plantations.

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Both made by Gustave Eiffel.

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THE END OF THE JOURNEY. BACK TO SANTIAGO.

PS: if you decide to read later articles or if you squim further down you’ll notice that they all look weird as the pictures are all small and not properly placed on the page… I’ve just discovered that WordPress has completly destroyed the layout that I had so carefully worked on but hey what can I do?!

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Heading up North. First stop: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

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Hola Chicos!

 

Live from San Pedro de Atacama, only a few hours before heading north north, all the way up to Arica (on the border with Perú) and then straight to La Paz, Bolivia. I´m not very inspired so this will mostly be a picture update… We were in San Pedro with Candy and Steph for a day and two nights and went horse riding for 5 hours… It was BAKAN (awesome, in Chilean) as they say here! Today we woke up at 3.45am in order to visit the Geysers del Tatio at 3,300 meters above sea level… Amazing man! That´s all for the noo.

PS: I´ve now spent more than 2h30 on the blog and I´m in an old internet cafe with freaking slow and antic computers so I have no clew if what I did worked out… please feed back and sorry if it looks like a mess, it does not on my screen jajajaja

 

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Cerro Manquehue o como matar a la Janna :D

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Well well, on Janna’s second day here I invited her to climb one of Santiago’s most well know “cerro” (hill), and so there we went, me with 2hours of sleep as I had to finish my project about Chile for my teacher in Scotland and then coughed so much that I couldn’t sleep and Janna still jetlagged… One of my friend came to fetch us at 9.15am and we then got the metro and bus and started walking up the very posh area of Vitacura (Chile’s wealthiest “commune”) at 11am… With LOTS of (non) motivation… In the end we took a taxi just to get a the beginning of the path jajajaja LAZY PEOPLE!

IMG_0203                   Motivation before starting the real climb in front of a sexy house… LOS FLAITES.

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Barbie’s house :D

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WP_20130604_013 WP_20130604_020          Lots of motivation, lots of breaks… Still very far from the top po weon!

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To cut a long story short, it took us forever to climb this “cerro de la muerte” because 1) we got lost 2) we thought it was going to be something quite easy and quick as my friend Marlene had told us it would take 1 to 2 hours max and that it wasn’t that hard -_-‘ THANKS. Well, we made it, we got back down at 5pm, even though Janna was scared to death climbing it and going down it… “Je préfère m’asseoir sur ce cactus pour toujours que de descendre ce truc” (“I prefer sitting on this cactus forever rather than going down this thing”)… To be fair, it was quite steep AND it was the first time Janna was wearing walking shoes (this says everything :DDD)

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As a conclusion I’d say that we only discovered when we got back that this is actually Santiago’s highest hill and that it’s even higher than the UK’s highest hill (Ben Nevis)…

Panorama4 recadré    Awesome Santiago & its lovely smog.

Parque Nacional 7 tazas, Región del Maule

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Well, well, as this was my last weekend “alone” in Chile (1st & 2nd of June), my friend David invited me one last time at his family’s house in Curicó (200kms South of Santiago) because his family and I got along super well, and we wanted to see each other before Janna, Candy, Steph and Théo would be here.  We therefore left for Curicó by train, arrived at 9pm on Friday, and got invited by Julio’s father (David’s half brother) to go to the National Park “Las 7 tasas” on Saturday. BAKAN as they say because I really wanted to see more mountains & naturaleza (nature).

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Mad mad trip with this “banda de weones” (well, yes, I learnt to use and decline all the “weon” “wea” etc. with them :D), 75kms in ‘la camioneta del diablo’ (the devil’s van), of which 25kms on untarred road, driving like nuts in order to arrive early enough to enjoy some light, jumping on rocks, going to see a huge waterfall: all in all, an amazingly nice trip!

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Finally I got back on Sunday night at 6pm and guess who opened my own door? LA JANNA. She arrived on Sunday morning, had all the instructions in order to get out of the airport, change money, take a bus, get to the metro, go to Marlene’s house to get my keys etc. And here she was :) Here she is discovering my Chilean life :)

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Día del Patrimonio

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Starting to queue at 10am… 1h20 to enter “El Club de la Unión”  and as we were advancing towards the entrance the queue was just getting longer and LONGER…

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EL PALACIO DE LA MONEDA: The Presidential Palace, but also the place where Salvador Allende got assassinated by Pinochet on the 11th of September 1973. As a matter of fact, this year is the 40th birthday of the “Golpe de Estado”, Pinochet’s coup d’état.

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First picture: TORRE ENTEL, Chile’s most important phone company. Second picture: the HUGE Chilean flag opposite el Palacio de la Moneda (cannot be seen on this picture) Third picture: fiesta in front of el Palacio de la Moneda.

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2h30 of queue (“cola” en Chileno), to get in El Palacio because it is only the 3rd year that people can visit it and it was opened only from 10 until 3, + heavy control in order to get in.

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SONY DSC SONY DSC  LEFT: Piece of wall en la Moneda to remember Allende’s death.

SONY DSC   .        La Papa Mobil… Used only once when Juan Pablo II came to Chile in 1987.

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SOME OF PARTS OF SANTIAGO AND CUARTEL DE LOS BOMBEROS (Santiago’s first fire station)

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Un poco más de Santiago…

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Okay let’s be honest, I don’t have much writing inspiration right now, so I’m just going to post some nice pictures I took on a sunny day in Santiago… (At least I won’t bore you with stuff you won’t read hahaha) I went back to the south of La Alemada to a park a friend took me to where I was amazed by this beautiful church left to rot (well some say it was left to rot after the Terremoto of 2010 (earthquake) but others say it was simply never finished)…

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¿Qué onda po weon?

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OK! Hands up! I must admit I’ve been taking the piss a little lately, as I’ve not updated ANYTHING for… nearly a month and a half. To be honest I can be excused because I’m not like most of the “extranjeros” here who have a loooot of money to travel everywhere, so I’m mainly staying in Santiago, meeting with Chileans and speaking Spanish :) therefore nothing THAT exciting to update on the blog… But I promise that when JANNA will arrive (in 17 days), I will have more things to show you :)))

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HOWEVER, I’ve been a good girl and I’ve put down the things I still find super weird around here; I’m going to try and take pictures of most of them but for the moment I will just enumerate them:

1) People sweeping the streets with BROOMS. Yes EVERYWHERE people clean the streets with brooms or with big tree leafs (like from a tropical tree). Moreover, it’s not only people who work for the city who do it, but also the concierges (as there are concierges in nearly every building) who clean in front of their doors and half a kilometer of the pavement, and finally, shopkeepers. I’ve not seen one machine like we have in Europe to clean the streets here. Doesn’t exist!

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2) Council workers / street cleaners who empty the bins with their hands… First, I thought it was poor people who search for cans, plastic bottles and stuff to recycle, – well yes this also happens – BUT here they don’t use bags in the bins on the streets, so the street cleaners empty the bins with their hands and without gloves. It always makes me want to throw up though.

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3) Many MANY people sleeping on the streets. They are maybe 5 in front of my door. They usually build a kind of fortress of cardboard around them and keep their blankets in a hole somewhere.

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4) Banks closing at 2 PM!!! And after that you need to scan your card to get inside to get money… But it doesn’t seem to work with my European card, so I need to find a place where there is already someone inside and wait for them to come out.

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5) Stamps’ prices changing all the time -_- I’ve still not got my head around this but depending on the mood of the guy and availability of stamps the prices change: 600 CLP in Patagonia because they didn’t have the 500 one, 500 the next time in Santiago, and then 410 (the guy didn’t know the price, he had to take the prices of my five stamps together and divide it -_-)

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6) A4 sheets are NOT A4! They have weird printing sizes here and their A4 is super huge… Well it depends where you go to get your things printed etc… I don’t get how they don’t have a standardised size x) WELL WELL, thanks to my dear “I-know-everything” Dad, I’ve just learned that Chile uses US paper sizes which are different from the international sizes. The US paper sizes are commonly used in the US, the Philippines,  Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica AND CHILE. Obviously. -_-

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7) Scars on their arms: all Chileans have 3 or 4 medium-sized scars on the arm (at shoulder level on the exterior of the arm) due to vaccinations’ shots they got when they were small, and it left marks on ALL of them. Apparently they didn’t have the same products or knowledge as us (though I also have a small scar but it’s inside my arm so you cannot see it as well as on them)

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8) Empty supermarkets. Really weird here, supermarkets are often out of stock of everything, entire shelves are completly empty for days: toothbrushes, jam & peanut butter (OMG!), washing powder… WTF? No sé!

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9) Car alarms: this is the FIRST thing I noticed when I arrived in Chile & was staying at Marlene’s flat because you can hear this sound ALL the time. I first thought it was Police or Ambulance alarm, after walking next to a car which started ringing and so realising this is just a car alarm! They don’t do it in excess here! I managed to find a video with this awesome sound, ENJOY! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIK2pLTdNS4

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San Vicente de Taguatagua

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So this weekend was a “long” weekend as Friday was a public holiday because it was “La Semana Santa”. I therefore got invited by my neighbour Daniel to spend 3 days in his “pueblo natal” / home town-village, called “San Vicente de Taguatagua”. Awesome name, right?

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I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures because it took me AGES to format this article thanks to this stupid blog platform… So let’s hope everything will stay in place and enjoy el campo chileno!

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Very nice sunset on Saturday night while the male members of the family (Daniel, his father and grandfather) were watching football.

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Neighbours’ house which has kept the marks from the famous 2010 earthquake. Very big property now left to rot.

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.A real breath of fresh air, so calm, so relaxing in comparison with Santiago. And this is what you call real countryside. It was a nice as the weekend with David and his family, as, once again, I got to meet “real Chileans”.  We indeed stayed with his grandparents, and his grandma was cooking for us: I got to eat ‘humitas’ again, and amazing ‘sopaipillas pasadas’, and much more ‘super ricaaaa’ food. Moreover, I got to see more of the real Chilean countryside because when I was Curico, I only saw the city centre, but there we were staying 7kms away from San Vicente. Furthermore, we went for a 20km bike ride on the Friday – where I also witnessed real countryside poverty. What more? OMG, AWESOMENESS dans toute sa splendeur (cannot think of an English equivalent), there are fruit trees EVERYWHERE. Figs, pears, apples, grapes, but also “tuna” (fruit from a cactus, see picture) and much more weird unknown fruits! Makes me want to eat all the time!

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Well, let’s talk quickly about “typical” Chilean food as I threw a few names at you. So nothing to do with what I ate this weekend, but the most consumed sandwich is called “completo italiano”, and is similar to a hot dog as it’s made with bread, a sausage in the middle, and then the typical Chilean avocado purée, mayonnaise, and chopped tomatoes. GOOGLE IT, it looks awful. But I WILL try it before leaving. I feel I have to. And to be honest, “paltas” (avocados in Chilean) are just so nice that I’m sure it’ll make the hot dog no that bad.

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Both are unknown fruit trees to me. Well on the left it’s actually a cactus making fruits :D

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Other important and typical Chilean food, is the “empanada”, though I heard that it’s not just Chilean, but can be found on the entire continent (well wikipedia says it originated in Spain and Portugal). It’s basically a stuffed pastry (called turnover in English and chausson in French) with many different ingredients inside: from cheese, to vegetables, to meat, to fish, to whatever you want. 

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What else? Well, Chile is a little obsessed with “choclo” (corn) and they have loads of dishes based on it, but the two most important are “pastel de choclo” and “humita”. I have not tried to “pastel” (cake) so I won’t comment on it as I want to try it before reading about it, but I have tried the humitas for the second time this weekend, and I definitely like them!  So humita is basically a dough made of an unknown type of flour, corn and onion, basil and butter according to wikipedia. It’s then slowly cooked and served in the corn’s leaves/husk (google it, see pictures).

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I saw some funny things this weekend, like this cart on the first picture, which was making a very distinct sound to say it was coming, as well as some guys on horses dressed with typical clothes and huge round hats. Very “entretenido” (fun, entertaining).

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Chao Summer, Hola Autumn :'(

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I’m sad to announce that the summer is definitely behind us… (and this is not an April’s Fool… SADLY). The sun has not been seen for more than 3 days now and the temperature is pretty [very] low (for Santiago, and for what we were used to), meaning 20/22°C. Not one Santiaguino is seen wearing a nice summery dress or shorts, and everyone has adopted the thick jumper and winter coat style (yes they don’t go into extremes here, ahahahn, not very used to anything under 25°C it seems). So, in order to mourn this awesome summer that I just lived, I’m going to feed you with my last nice summery pictures from Santiago. Most of them are from one of my university’s campus, called Campus Oriente. The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (how I hate this complicated name) has 4 campuses spread around Santiago. The main one is called San Joaquin, because it has most of the subjects, but, for example, Campus Oriente is the campus where all the arts subjects are: music, theatre, painting, estética… And in my opinion it’s the most beautiful campus (though I didn’t see the Lo Contador one, where architecture students are).

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I’m also going to make a few comments about education in Chile as it is a VERY IMPORTANT subject here; if not the most important. So, obviously, being here as an exchange student means I’m going to mix up with other students and therefore talk about EDUCATION and UNIVERSITY with them. What’s happening here? Well, I’m not very well informed about the subject, but I just know and keep hearing about how EXPENSIVE their education is, and especially studying at uni. First, they have to pay for their secondary education – well, I think it’s a little more complicated than this but, they have 3 types of schools to chose from: PUBLIC schools, which are free but have a very bad level of teaching and bad reputation – SUBSIDISED schools, which get help from the government but also from private investors, you need to pay to go there though it’s cheaper than private school and the level is better than public schools – and PRIVATE schools, which I think are mostly catholic or language schools (American, British, French… schools), and which are obviously VERY expensive but have a good level of education.

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Then Chileans need to pass a test called PSU (Prueba de Seleccion Universitaria) at the end of their secondary school in order to get into uni. Depending on their score, they will be able to get into this or this university.

And then they will have to pay university, which is incredibly expensive, considering that the minimum wage here is of 306€ (£258), and that people who work 20hours a week in McDonalds, for example, will earn about 200€ a month. As another example, my Spanish language teacher, who is also working full time in the uni as a teacher and in the international office, told us that her salary was around 1000€ (£843). THEREFORE, let’s compare their salaries to going to university which costs about 9000 – 10 000€ (£7600 – £8500) per year (meaning about 1000€ per month, considering that they are in uni 9months a year). Well, how great is that?

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How does it work? Though university costs are SUPER high, lots of Chileans go to university now, but they will all (well, except for the few rich students) have to take loans, which they will then have to reimburse once working, and this for a very looooong time of their lives. Indeed, university degrees here are not regulated like in Europe, and for most of them, in order to get a BACHELOR / LICENCE level, they will have to study at university for 5 – 6 years, and another 2 if they want to get a masters degree… Meaning that they will have to pay 10 000€ each year, for 6 years, simply to get a Bachelor. HOW BAD IS THAT?

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Furthermore, they often ask me how do I pay my stay here in Santiago, and so, I have to explain that the French government gives me money in order to study. When I show them the amount in Chilean pesos, they all make this awkward half-amazed, half-very sad smile, because the amount I get is more than a month’s salary on the minimum wage here in Chile. Yes, I don’t always feel very comfortable with that but, as they are sharing their reality with me, I’m sharing my reality with them too. 

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You can now understand why they envy us, and why they don’t understand why we are complaining all the time whereas we get free education, free health service, help from the government, a VERY high minimum wage, and so much more. Europe, and the help we get, is their dream. But I’ve come to the conclusion that money and being helped on all sides really doesn’t make you more happy. People just don’t realise how lucky we are. People are just much more joyful, open-minded and welcoming here than in grumpy, individualistic Europe. Money cannot buy happiness.

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+ Nothing to do with anything;  random pictures from Santiago – “Parque de las Esculturas”

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC      The highest tower in South America,part of the shopping centre called “Costanera Center”. It’s 300metres high. (The Eiffel Tower is 300m + 25m for its antenna) Next photo: my TANDEM friend Ignacio (language exchange, we have to speak Spanish and English in turn together). Totally mad but super super nice.