I would have loved that you were there with me during my stay in Chile. This would have helped you understand the deep footprints that Chile left in me. Even before arriving to that place, and even with the big geographic distance, that wonderful country had already influenced many aspects of my life, such as literature, language and lifestyle.
First of all, Chilean literature called my attention before I learned Spanish. In the book ‘La Casa de los Espiritus’, Isabel Allende shows an amazing world through the epic story of the big and turbulent Trueba family in Chile. Even today, I can still recall the unforgettable memories of the most amazing scenes. This wonderful work awakened my interest for Chile, a land full of myths and legends.
The translation from one language to another of a written work is never identical when it comes to the cultural aspect, because sometimes it is hard to translate the specific aspects of the source culture. I decided to learn Spanish to be able to read this and other master pieces in their original language.
Before coming to study to Chile, everything I knew from this country was limited to indirect information. By the time I was able to go there and experience in-situ the Chilean world, I noticed an interesting phenomenon that I never imagined. A lot of people think that the world use the same Spanish, like a global McDonalds’s, but it’s not true. Each Spanish speaking country, even within the same region, has different slangs. Let’s see the case of the use of “pues”, as I know in Chile it’s “po” and in Peru people use “pe”.
I felt desperate when I arrived to Santiago. I didn’t understand Chilean slang at all and I had been studying Spanish in China for two years already. I had to ask for help to strangers even for the simplest things. Each day seemed harder and I felt frustrated and scared. But as time went by, I can proudly say that I’m more used to the lifestyle in Latin America. I feel like a fish in water. We always say hello with kisses and hugs. We never miss a soccer game. We have a million excuses to party. Without a doubt, my experience living in Chile has made me a more independent and optimistic person.
I love Pablo Neruda’s poetry, specially this verse “Love is so short, forgetting is so long”. Chile has not only made a cultural impact on me, it has also given me a new approach to life. It takes a second to fall in love with a new place, and an entire year to be able to adapt yourself to the new unknown society. But the footprints this new world left on me, they will stay with me forever.