Being a Young Person in Chile! (LingoMap)

¡Hola! Me llamo Rachael y estoy pasando mi año en el extranjero en Talca, Chile. Two weeks ago marked the half way point of my time here. It has absolutely flown by and I have had some of the most amazing, life changing and eye opening experiences since my arrival in August. So here I am, blogging about it to share some experiences and observations about the country and society.

Having spent a lot of time with many people with varying age, educational level, social class and backgrounds, I guess I’ve been silently observing these differences in everyone. Although there are many factors that divide and differentiate the population, there is one key factor that remains strong in everyone from all walks of life; LA FAMILIA.

The general set up tends to be the classic Nuclear Family – parents and 2 children – and most of the attitude still seems to be fairly ‘machista’ whereby the woman does most of the cooking and cleaning in the house, despite the fact that both people in the marriage work full 8.30-19.30 days. The father remains the head of the family and the discipliner to the children. Based on what I’ve seen, there seems to be a lot of pressure on the kids to consistently achieve high grades at school. This is due to so many different factors that would require an actual sociologist to evaluate.

Overall, this pressure has a negative impact on the children in the long run as they all seem to feel under too much pressure and still heavily controlled by their parents, despite living and studying away from home. Sadly, the mental healthcare system is still quite far behind the European’s and North American’s so there is no real effective manner to help the kids deal with this pressure, but that’s a whole other story.

Most university degrees here are studied with the intention of building a career in that specific area, and there are MILLIONS of people studying to be teachers. I cannot tell you the amount of times people ask me if I’m studying languages in order to be a language teacher then look completely baffled when I say “No, I’m just studying languages because I like them”. It seems to be something intrinsic in Chilean society that everyone is blinkered on this path and they cannot comprehend anything that veers away from it.

When I reflect on this, I can’t help but seriously appreciate the freedom, independence and open-mindedness I have and was fortunately brought up with. I can see far away from the standard path and all the other windy roads that criss-cross it.

Most families tend to be seemingly happy on the outside but aren’t necessarily as well-functioning as they look. Which leads me to my next point; identity. Chileans seem to extremely concerned about their image and how they come across to others.

Los jóvenes en Chile son fanáticos de Instagram, y publican cada movimiento del día en su historia. Desde lo que almuerzan, una foto de lo que están viendo en Netflix hasta un video de ellos lavándose los dientes. De hecho, en todos lados siempre verás a 3 personas mínimo sacándose un selfie. Al final, mi amigo Carlos (que está pasando el año en Bogotá, Colombia) y yo lo llamamos “The South American Shameless Selfie” así que no es algo específico de Chile sino que ocurre en todo el continente.

A los jóvenes igual les gusta carretear (salir de fiesta). Los carretes chilenos normalmente son hechos de varios amigos que se juntan a tomar tragos alcohólicos y escuchan la música reggaetón. Los chilenos están muy orgullosos de esta parte de su cultura, los tragos chilenos en particular son:

“Terremoto” – el trago famoso de vino blanco, helado de piña y granadina. Se llama “terremoto” porque después de tomar uno, cuando te levantas, tus piernas sienten como si hubiera un terremoto. Suena terrible, pero no son tan malos aunque sí son peligrosos.

“Michelada” – cerveza con limón y sal en el borde del vaso. Los que son valientes le añaden merquén picante.

Los chilenos, y de hecho todos los latinos, son muy buenos para bailar. En el Reino Unido, todos tenemos que estar muy borrachos para poder soltarnos un poco y bailar con nuestros amigos. Nuestras caderas, piernas y el resto del cuerpo no están sincronizados, nos cuesta bailar un baile que no sea saltar en el mismo lugar. Pero aquí no es así. La gente baila porque quiere bailar, nomás. Tienen el ritmo en la sangre. No son vergonzosos. Y todo esto me hace sentir increíblemente celosa. Ya sabía que los latinos son buenos bailarines y que en comparación yo no tengo mucho ritmo, pero lo experimenté en carne propia cuando fui a mi primera y única clase de Zumba aquí… ¡nunca más!


Bueno, espero que les haya gustado este blog. This is all my observation and personal experience with Chilean families and society, I am talking very generally and there are obviously many exceptions to these generalisations. ¡Hasta la próxima!


*Featured image by Almoritmoxis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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