I moved to Chile almost three years ago… Relatives, friends, working as an editor on a fashionable channel and my usual everyday life remained in Moscow - my beloved was waiting in Chile. During the two years that we met, there were trips to St. Petersburg, where he then lived, to Madrid, where he soon moved, then naturally followed by flights from Moscow to Santiago and crazy romantic dates when we met in the middle of the world - for example, on Santorini. But at some point, reality tactfully made it clear that without one address for two, this story has no future.
For me, the move was not an adventurous step with my eyes closed: before that I had been to Chile twice a month, had time to explore Santiago, and at the same time to take a ride around the country. Despite this, I thought for a long time, weighed the pros and cons: my life in Moscow was fine with me, besides, I had something to lose professionally. At some point, I asked myself an honest question, what will I regret more in ten years: that my career expectations did not come true, or that a wonderful person I love disappeared from my life? And everything immediately fell into place. After all, when is it still time to decide on crazy actions, especially for the sake of love, if not at 23?
And here I am in the capital of a distant South American state, sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. I never looked at Chile through rose-colored glasses and from the very beginning soberly assessed its advantages and disadvantages, because my move was due to love not for the country, but for the person. I remember well the impression of Santiago on the first day of arrival, then still just a tourist: glass skyscrapers, neat houses with a well-groomed area around, shady alleys of the Providencia district and many people similar to Europeans - that many Chileans have Spanish families in their families, Italian, Croatian, German grandparents, I learned later. The picture was complemented by the huge purple-blue wall of the Andes, which encircles the city - a more spectacular scenery could not be imagined. Terrified except that the Mapocho river in the center of Santiago - a liquid stream of coffee-colored, albeit mountainous in origin. Chile was the first country in Latin America that I visited, and I did not know what to prepare for - there were only vague associations with vineyards and gauchos. Like many compatriots, I thought in stereotyped images and had a poor idea of what it was like, a distant and mysterious South America.
Chile is sometimes called the "Switzerland of South America", not without reason hinting that it is the most economically developed and stable country in the region with low crime and corruption rates - especially in comparison with its neighbors. The Chileans themselves are ironic about this title: they love to criticize themselves, and even more - their government. The public situation here is calm - there are no terrorist attacks, and politicians are forced to take care of their image, otherwise they will not be re-elected. Many young people come to the country, including from Russia - they are attracted by the Start-Up Chile program, which finances promising startups. The calm is diluted only by protests in the streets. As a rule, students and employees of small shops in the city center go on strike when they demand higher wages: in such cases, work stops, and all employees go outside with posters and loudspeakers. And on March 8, many women took to the topless demonstration, expressing their dissatisfaction with the ban on abortion in the country.
Chile is sometimes called the "Switzerland of South America" - it is the most economically developed and stable country in the region
I remember being pleasantly surprised by the neatly dressed police officers near the La Moneda Palace, who politely advised me how and where to go.By the way, the very idea of giving a bribe to an official for Chileans looks like a completely wild and incomprehensible gesture and is fraught with big troubles. If you exceed the speed and try to pay off, then the night behind bars is provided.
One of the main problems for me at first was the language. I knew Spanish well, but the Chilean version is not easy to understand by ear, it takes a long time to get used to it: words are pronounced illegibly, endings and many consonants are “eaten up”. Plus a rich supply of specific idioms that are not used anywhere else - the local speech consists of half of them. "Cachai weón po?" If you know Spanish but don't understand anything from this phrase, that's okay. I often hear Latin Americans from other countries confess, "Before we came to Chile, we thought we were speaking Spanish."
A couple of months after moving, I entered the marketing department at the University of Chile; such courses are called here Diplomado and are considered a prestigious addition to the main diploma. The course consisted of several parts, each led by a new instructor with applied experience - among them were specialists from Google and owners of their own companies. Education here is based on discussions, while almost no one takes the usual notes, does not cram the material. The emphasis is on working on practical tasks in a team - in one of the lessons we even developed a model of a startup using a Lego constructor.
I needed knowledge in the field of marketing to launch my project - an online jewelry store. It did not last long, because I frankly miscalculated my understanding of the Chilean mentality, despite my active work with local bloggers and the press. It turned out that the online shopping market in Chile is still weak, and it is much more profitable to have a traditional corner in a shopping center. Plus, tastes really differ - it's not always worth proposing Elizabeth and James-style minimalism in hopes of a fashion revolution when the country is enduring fashion for giant hippie jewelry.
The first time after the move, I worked as a regular freelance writer on the site that was my place of work before Chile, and collaborated with other publications as a freelancer. To obtain a one-year visa after 180 days of tourist stay, I need a local work contract, so I got a job in a private company that works with innovative projects of entrepreneurs and helps them apply and receive grants from Corfo (a government organization that finances entrepreneurs), where I partially continue to work and Today. At the same time, I launched a Russian-language blog about travels in Chile, Chiletravelmag.ru, which gradually grows from a simple hobby into a serious project.
During my life here, I traveled almost the entire country from north to south, and I have accumulated significant travel experience. There were multi-day hikes in Torres del Paine and other national parks, trips to the Atacama Desert, islands, volcanoes, mountain lagoons and all kinds of valleys. I have been to places that Chileans themselves often do not know about, although they really like domestic tourism. By the way, I also got infected with this - between a trip to Tierra del Fuego and to a distant Caribbean beach, I will choose the first one. Since there is little information about travel and life in Chile on the Russian-language Internet, I decided to share my experience on the blog pages; here I also talk about other countries in South America.
Over time, it became clear that Santiago is actually a many-sided city, and, having settled in Providencia, I naturally saw the life of only the so-called barrio alto - prestigious areas in the east of the capital. This is an artificial "bubble" where it is comfortable and pleasant, but outside of it a completely different life is raging: most live in more modest conditions. The thing is that the quarter in which you live largely determines your lifestyle and even your status. It is important what school and institute you went to: this automatically determines your social circle.In Santiago, it is considered completely normal when, when meeting at a party, is almost the first question that unfamiliar people ask you: "Where do you live?" At first I precipitated, then I got used to it. In Moscow, not all friends know which district I am from, and in Santiago, especially conservative employers can specify your address during an interview. Therefore, many are ready for a small apartment in poor condition, but located in Las Condes.
When my boyfriend explained to me the peculiarities of the local social system, it was both funny and annoying at the same time, it seemed to be the order of the colony times. Over time, I myself became convinced that everything is so, just tourists do not read such things. In Chilean marketing, there is even an official gradation of social classes of society by letter (A, B, C1, C2, and so on), which is often used in ordinary speech, when, for example, they talk about the target audience of an institution.
After moving, I began to face an avalanche of questions regardless of the part of the world and felt the depth of the prejudices with which we live. Upon learning that I am Russian, Chileans are very surprised that I speak Spanish fluently (and even learned it in Russia! And even on my own!) And that I freeze in winter in local houses without heating, where the average temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius. The set of questions is always standard, so you can deduce patterns. First of all, the Chileans ask about your impressions of Chile. Touched by the love story that brought me to their country, they are always interested in how the Chileans differ from the Russians, something like this: "We are very open and friendly in comparison with the Russians, right?" Especially stubborn ones have to be upset by the fact that everything is relative, and among the Chileans, many go with a poker face (if you haven't met such people, you just stayed here a little). It is believed that Chileans are the coldest and most introverted Latin Americans (I felt this well after a trip to Colombia), but it is easier for a European to adapt here.
The main aspirated question is about the Russian winter. We have to patiently talk about the wonders of central heating unfamiliar to Chileans and that the same temperature in the mountains and on the plain feels different. I also often explain that Russia is too big a country to generalize from Siberia to the capital, so now all my answers start with an honest "I can only judge Moscow." It's funny, but before moving, I didn't even think about it. In general, I am one of those expats who try to broadcast a good image of their homeland - I have no grudge against my country, I did not leave in search of a better life, and I come home every year with great buzz.
I am one of those expats who try to broadcast a good image of their homeland - I have no grudge against my country
I must say that I was very lucky: my young man is interested in Russian culture and knows about it firsthand, since he spent six months working in St. Petersburg, and before that, another year in Kiev. My mentality is close to him: he reads Russian classics, adores Russian cuisine, is familiar with the Hermitage collection, and he does not need to explain why it is important for me to celebrate the New Year and Victory Day, to walk at home in slippers instead of street shoes, to give flowers and why “Russian Post "Is not always the most reliable delivery method.
I noticed that Chileans are showing genuine interest and really want to know about my country. They frankly admit that they have not the slightest idea of Russia, and for the majority, I became the first Russian person with whom they ever spoke. But many acquaintances in Russia are still firmly convinced that in Chile there are coconuts on palms everywhere, the Caribbean coast, round-the-clock samba on the streets and hot summer all year round - some kind of wild collective mixture from Rio and the beaches of Tulum. They are very surprised when they see my photos in off-season clothes.Alas, coconuts do not grow in Chile either, and the Pacific Ocean is only teased - the water in it is icy almost everywhere. Swimming in the country with the longest coastline in the world is a personal pain for me, as for many untrained tourists. But the Chilean coast is great for surfing because of the strong waves. It's cold in Santiago for three months of the year. No frost, of course, but there is a reason to get sweaters and down jackets: from June to August I wear winter clothes. It's also funny when they think that Chile is something very tropical. In the diverse geography of Chile, which has become the country's hallmark, there is a place for desert, lakes, volcanoes and glaciers, but the tropics are observed only on Easter Island, infinitely far from the mainland.
Speaking about Chile, they always ask about earthquakes: how to live in a country where it always shakes? Answering this question, I turn on all my Chilean training and issue it with a machine-gun burst: shocks up to seven points are not felt here at all. Yes, you read that correctly. And the stronger ones feel like a light vibration, but nothing falls from the shelves, and the houses do not collapse according to the canons of disaster films. When I tell this, I see a shock on people's faces, which is understandable: in other countries, such earthquakes destroy entire cities, besides, the strongest earthquake in the world happened in Chile.
For the first six months, I was often woken up with messages “Are you okay? You are shaking! " - it turned out that the news of another shock, which we did not even feel, leaked into the Russian news, when the Chilean press calmly ignored it. By the way, locals love to boast of their indifference to earthquakes (“As we sat in the bar, they continued to sit”) and all frightened foreigners are reassured by the fact that all buildings are built according to special standards, so when shocks are made, the structure of the house starts to move in a cunning manner. adjusting to earth vibrations. The only real risk is in a tsunami. In general, a trip to Chile is a unique opportunity to visit a seismically active country without real risk to life and nervous system.
Life in Santiago (not to mention the rest of the country) is measured and quiet, teaches you to slow down and enjoy simple things without the bustle of Moscow. The ideal weekend for the Chilean is a family lunch or a barbecue with rivers of wine, so on Sundays the city seems to die out: with the exception of supermarkets and malls, absolutely everything is closed. Like many expats, I do not have enough interesting events in the city, exhibitions and other cultural programs.
What I love most about life in Santiago (besides the delicious avocados and wine) is the proximity to the mountains and hills. Previously, I would not have signed up as a fan of hiking, but recently I decided that since I live here, I need to use my opportunities, and now I often storm the mountains on weekends - Santiago is surrounded by hills, so in less than an hour I can get from home to another trail. I also like that my barrio has a very cozy and quiet atmosphere. There are many private cabins with well-tended gardens full of roses, oranges and pomegranates, and I can walk to yoga studios, cafes and shops. For example, on the next street, a German made an extension to a private house and bakes delicious bread there, which we go out to buy almost in our pajamas.
Sometimes you have to pull yourself together in order not to finally adopt the great Latin American philosophy "mañana" - this is when everything will be done tomorrow, and maybe never. Would I have chosen Chile if great love had not happened to me? Frankly speaking, it is unlikely. But the experience of living abroad is wonderful in that it expands your perception of the world and teaches you to look at it without the prism of previous prejudices - both about other countries and about yourself.
Photos: Adwo - stock.adobe.com