My Typical Day in Santiago, Chile

This post comes from Mikayla Walters from the University of South Alabama. Mikayla is a Chemical Engineering Major currently Interning in Santiago, Chile.

I’ve been in Chile for three weeks now, so I would say I’m starting to get the hang of how things go around here!   I live in the neighborhood of Providencia with a host mother, Paulina; a fellow API intern, Brianna; three Chilean students; and one Peruvian student.  We share the same home but we all have different schedules and attend or work at different universities (something I found interesting – there are so many different universities in Santiago, even on the same street!)

I work Monday through Thursday, and a typical work day for me looks like this.  My alarm goes off at 5:30am, I take an hour to wake up with my Bible and coffee, and then I do an online workout video.  After I get ready for the day, I have breakfast with whomever happens to be eating at that time.  Breakfast is coffee or tea and usually toasted bread, but not sliced bread like we have!  More like a baguette.  You can put on honey or marmalade – the honey here is so rich and delicious!  Some people also eat cereal or yogurt.  Meat is not a breakfast standard here like it is back home – no eggs, sausages, or bacon.  Because of this, I bought some protein powder to make sure I can refuel after my workouts.  After breakfast, I head out for work.  I have a short walk to the bus stop, a 10 minute bus ride to the nearest metro station, and then a 15 minute metro ride until my university.  From my house to the university it takes about 45 minutes with all the walking and waiting, but the public transportation here is very efficient!

I arrive at work right around 9am and I perform my experiments – most of the time with lots of help from the other students.  My work is in organic chemistry, and my degree is in Chemical Engineering, so I have basic knowledge of organic chemistry but it’s definitely not my specialty.  Around 12:30pm or 1pm is lunch time.  Choices for lunch at the university cafeteria consist of a roll, meat of the day (fish, chicken, beef), rice, lentils or beans, potato salad, and/or various raw vegetables.  Something very curious to me is that they don’t have salad dressing!  Everyone puts oil and vinegar or lemon juice on their salads.  Furthermore, salads usually consist of only lettuce and tomatoes.  The university cafeteria also has Doggis which is a fast food restaurant selling hot dogs, which are very popular here in Chile.  Many students also go to the vendors right outside the university entrance selling empanadas, a very typical Chilean dish, or sushi, which is also very popular among the young people here.  After lunch I continue to work on my experiments and try to wrap up before 6pm to avoid rush hour in the metro.  People get packed like sardines and it can be impossible to get off at your stop if you don’t push through the crowd.

I arrive home around 6:45pm and eat dinner around 7pm.  The plates are usually ready earlier because Paulina prepares them during the day, so dinner is self-serve.  Brianna and I eat together and many times the other students don’t arrive until much later.  A typical meal at home seems very normal to me – roast beef and rice; soup with chicken, carrots, and potatoes; pasta with marinara sauce.  This was pretty surprising to me because I expected the food to be a little more exotic, but nonetheless, we’ve had some pretty tasty dishes.  Brianna and I talk to Paulina for a bit and then we wind down for the night.  I skype my husband, watch some YouTube and go to bed around 9 or 9:30, so I can wake up at 5:30 the next morning and do it all over again.

A typical weekend day – Friday to Sunday – looks like this.  I sleep in until 8am or 9 am – so nice! – and eat breakfast.  Then at 11am or 12pm I go for a run.  I love the fact that in Providencia, on Sundays, they close some of the streets to allow people and families to ride bikes, run, rollerblade, or walk without traffic.  A few times I’ve run to the Cerro San Cristobal, which is a hill that has an elevation of 300 meters above the city.  At the top there are restaurants, a statue of the Virgen de Carmen – the patron saint of Chile, and incredible views of the city.  I like to take a snack break at the top and eat maní confitado, which is delicious candied peanuts, and then run back down.  When I get home, Brianna, Claudia – our Santiago Resident Director – and I go out for lunch together and explore a new neighborhood of Santiago.  Claudia is a great guide and she tells us the history behind the buildings, shows us shops and cafés, and we have a great time.  We do a lot of walking to burn off all the delicious food we’re eating here.  Then we come home and unwind for the next day.

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