A Summer in Chile
By Shannon Wing ’22
Hello! Two weeks ago at around this time, I was waking up to my new neighbor friend tapping me on the shoulder saying, ‘we are here.” I had somehow managed to sleep through both meals on my overnight flight and now I was in Chile! My journal lay across my lap with my mid-sentence thoughts of excitement. I closed it and figured I’d come back later. When I walked out of the plane I was hit with a wave of cold, I began to shiver.
I realized that I am back at it again traveling on my own in a new country. As I sat trying to obtain the airport wifi to message my host mom, I realized that my spanish 4 abilities were not prepared for what was going to come (I shamefully had to pull up Google Translate). Oh well, I am here!
With a backpack full of my hiking equipment and a suitcase full of my business casual clothes, I headed off to my new home for 3 months, Santiago, Chile. Welcomed by my host mom and brother for breakfast, it didn’t take long to be reminded that even though we aren’t from the same place and don’t speak the same language, we are very similar. In broken conversation throughout the week, I learned that my host mom’s daughter is currently traveling alone like me in Denmark and she misses her very much. My host brother is in his final year of highschool and studies late into the night and on weekends in preparation for the PSU, similar to our SATs. He wants to get into a top university and is confused on what to study, but knows he wants to make a big impact on the world. All you MIT people out there, sound similar?
Here in Santiago I am working at a small, fast-growing startup called Inodu as an energy and sustainability intern. The company specializes in analysis of the Chilean power market, which is rapidly changing due to the fast implementation of renewables in the country. The office is half in english and half in spanish, which produces funny spanglish lunch conversations.
On weekends I am exploring. My first stop, a free walking tour starting in La Plaza de Armas. I always look for these when I first arrive in a new city alone. It’s a great way to make new friends, learn about a new city from a local, and of course it’s on a student budget. The day I picked also just happened to fall on the weekend celebration of Navy Day, a Chilean National Holiday that celebrates the Battle of Iquique which took place between Chile and Peru in 1879. Lucky me, the square was lively with men in uniform, horses, fire trucks, dancing, and all the museums had free entry. Also lucky me, I got to experience some elbow throwing crowds.
(Image of Palacio de La Moneda, Coin Palace, during Navy Day Celebration)
My tour guide, an economics student at Universidad de Chile, welcomed me to Santiago, updated me on the political and social climate, and connected me with local trekking groups. My next stop, a quick coworker outing to the Andes. Next weekend: trekking in Cajon del Maipo.