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Old 01-30-2010, 04:21 PM
 
13,566 posts, read 22,018,249 times
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Hello to anyone that can offer insight, advice, and/or help!

I have a potential job opportunity in Santiago, Chile. I already have a lot of experience with living in another country for a long period of time (I am from the U.S. and lived in Brasilia, Brazil specifically--I've also traveled/studied around the world extensively).

I'd like to know any inside information about living in Santiago, Chile. I would live there for at least two years.

Here are areas to consider:

1. Being African-American/Black in Santiago.

2. Integrating/Semi-Integrating/Connecting to Chilean people/culture.

3. Transportation (Car Necessity?)--I'll be living in or within 15 minutes of the Lo Barnechea section of the city.

4. Anything else?


I welcome all opinions, advice, suggestions, etc. Don't be shy...being forthright is a plus!

Thank you in advance.
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Old 02-09-2010, 11:39 AM
 
2,147 posts, read 4,341,323 times
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Have you checked the all chile expats forum? do a google search-it's an extensive forum and should provide all the info you need. Sorry I cannot provide more (I've never been to chile,but was researching it myself)! But I am positive that forum will get you covered. Solid info on there.
Good luck!

Last edited by lrmsd; 02-09-2010 at 11:40 AM.. Reason: adding
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Western Michigan
92 posts, read 224,020 times
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Default :-)

Hi there,

I lived in Chile for two and a half months a couple years ago. I am not black/African American, but I can give you some insight about living in Santiago.

First of all, I think you will find that it's quite easy. There are PLENTY of transportation systems (taxi, the subway, etc.). So, you probably won't need a car. There are plenty of bussing systems that travel to all of the major towns throughout Chile. I travelled to and from Santiago on many various occassions using the bussing system. Cheap and efficient.

Second of all, you'll find that there are plenty of markets and little food shops to visit. Many of those little shops sell plenty of pan (bread). Pan is probably THE staple food of Chile so be prepared to get bombarded with that and lots of pastries... Chileans LOVE to share their food and offer you pan and pastries all the time. Just keep in mind that if you don't want to gain weight, it is best to simply say "no thank you" and avoid this stuff all the time at all costs! I gained ten pounds (and I'm relatively thin).

Third of all, be prepared for lots of smog. Santiago is a VERY smoggy city. I had to blow my nose on several occassions and saw that my snot was BLACK. Yeah, it's that bad. So, if you have any breathing conditions like asthma, it is very important to keep this in mind.

Fourthly, you'll find that the people are quite friendly, although I believe they are not as friendly as in other Latino cultures. From my experience, they seemed to be a bit more closed. My best suggestion is that you know Spanish fairly well or at least attempt to speak Spanish. They will welcome you more that way I believe. I could barely speak Spanish so it was pretty difficult. I found that hardly any people could speak English as well.

Fifth, it is SO IMPORTANT to keep a close eye on your personal belongings. Being an African American, you will stick out quite a bit more and people will naturally be more drawn to you, being a foreigner and all. I have blonde hair and I stuck out like a sore thumb as everyone has black hair (well, MOST people). I was therefore more of a target for pick-pocketers because they see people of European descent (I am an American) as being more well-off. If you have a backpack or other bag and you go to sit down at a table to eat, I was told that you should put the leg of the chair inside the strap of the bag so that if anyone attempted to grap your back, they would have an awfully tough time trying to do so. They would have to pull you with them. Just be really careful about that. People are very keen on stealing in big cities like that.

Finally, I suggest that you go to several money-exchange places to figure out their exchange rates. Some places charge you ridiculous amounts and others are much better. Whatever you do, DON'T exchange at the airport. They rip you off there.

I really hope you have a good experience working in Santiago. I think you will enjoy living there very much. Chile is a wonderful country with wonderful people and traditions. I wish to go back some day very soon! Hope I helped!

PS: While in Santiago, be sure to visit Cerro San Cristobal and Cerro Santa Lucia... Just Google them and you will see what I mean Good luck!
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:49 AM
 
2,002 posts, read 4,083,454 times
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If you'll be living in Lo Barnechea, where would you work? I think you can find good public transportation, but depending on where you're going I'd use a car.

I spent two weeks in Santiago during December and I didn't see a single African American there, so your looks and accent will make you noticeable, and pick-pocketers will try to get your things. If you're going to new places even knowing Spanish I'd recommend to have local people with you, because certain neigbourhoods will try to charge you extra, etc.

Don't change your money at the airport or the streets. (If you go to downtown you'll find people offering you to "take you to a more convenient office" and you'll never see your money again). Places like Mall Portal La Dehesa (part of Lo Barnechea) or Alto Las Condes have safe money exchange offices. Banks are safe too, but not that convenient.

If by any chance you're vegetarian I suggest to say it immediately. Meat and seafood are vital part of the Chilean diet and they are served with everything. Ask for "parrilladas" if you don't believe me, LOL. You'll have several options for cheap fresh vegetables and fruit anyway. I wish we had this variety and prices here in the US! LOL

Try to go to Valparaiso/Viña to enjoy the beach. It's approx. 2 hours away and it's worth it. If you're there during winter season you can go from Lo Barnechea to Farellones or El Colorado for some skiing or snowboarding.

Santiago is a very fast city, 24/7 and it can be very cheap or expensive depending on the places you choose. Overall I'd say it's one of the best cities to live in South America. I think you'll enjoy it!
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Old 03-09-2010, 07:11 PM
 
476 posts, read 1,014,527 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aries4118 View Post
Hello to anyone that can offer insight, advice, and/or help!

I have a potential job opportunity in Santiago, Chile. I already have a lot of experience with living in another country for a long period of time (I am from the U.S. and lived in Brasilia, Brazil specifically--I've also traveled/studied around the world extensively).

I'd like to know any inside information about living in Santiago, Chile. I would live there for at least two years.

Here are areas to consider:

1. Being African-American/Black in Santiago.

Sometimes being black in Chile bites. How you handle it depends on your own personality and life experience.

I'll list a few things to expect. None are absolutes; mileage may vary.

1) Chile is an extremely homogenous and isolated society.
Expect to be stared at; it's not considered impolite. Chileans could dominate a Staring Contest in the Olympics. Most Chileans have never seen a black person in real life (on tv, thanks to futbol). Expect conversations to cease and people to stop dead in their tracks to get a look at ya. Expect genuine awe. It's like being famous with none of the perks. If you need a break (sort of) you can always head to Gringolandia, an overpriced expat block of clubs and restaurants.

2) Expect people to ask for photos with you, or just snap them without permission.

3) If you're female expect the occasional stranger (especially men) to go out of their way to touch you; not grope, not assault, but randomly touch your hand/arm/small of your back if they're within reach. Carry hand sanitizer. No matter your gender, expect people to touch your hair. Boundaries/personal space are cultural and you are not in the United States, so no one is begging your pardon before they molest you.

4) Expect to see a sambo style black face performance at least once.

5) Note: Observations 1-4, I attribute to cultural differences or ignorance. I'm callin' the next couple, good old fashioned racism.
I resided with a family while in Chile. My coordinator had to approach several families to secure a place. None of them wanted a black student. In practical terms, expect a bit of a challenge finding housing/a landlord... unless your employer handles it for you.

6) Expect, on the rarest occasion, to be refused service.

Barring the personal space intrusions, most of this has happened to you in the US anyway. I've found myself the only black person at a private club, or in a gated white community. People kinda stare, conversations falter, there's an awkward moment (where someone wonders if they should call security). Anyway, in Chile unsolicited attention is pronounced and unrelenting. Culturally, it's not as if anyone is being impolite or has any concept of political correctness. My observations are nothing new in the "black experience" and can only make you miserable if you let 'em.



2. Integrating/Semi-Integrating/Connecting to Chilean people/culture.

The vast majority of Chileans I met never ventured outside Chile. Most never will. Even though it's a wealthier South American nation, the majority of said wealth is limited to a tiny percentage of the population. ...That's all to say, Chilean culture is the single thing most people can offer you. It's all they know and they're pleased to share. There are distinct differences between European and Indigenous Chilean culture.
You'll have to be persistent to get past the initial awe, suspicion, and whatever else I described in answer to your first question.


3. Transportation (Car Necessity?)--I'll be living in or within 15 minutes of the Lo Barnechea section of the city.

Not familiar w/ that part of the city. I enjoyed Providencia and Nunoa as they were nice barrios with easy access to public transport.
Rely on the bus and metro for at least the first 6 months. Learn the city. Then you can determine if you really need a car. You probably won't. Incidentally, the bus can save you a shopping trip...3rd party vendors sell everything from ice cream to cutlery en route.


4. Anything else?
Another poster said it. Santiago air quality is disgusting. Blow your nose and the snot is black. I've been to several major cities in developing countries and never encountered such thick, sooty air. If you wear contacts, bring your glasses. If you have severe allergies or asthma, talk to your doctor before you go.
Chile is one of the most geographically diverse and naturally stunning countries I've ever been to. You have to venture north to Atacama and south to Pucon, to begin to appreciate it.
Random note: during Carnaval, expect to be hit with water balloons, sprayed with water guns, and generally soaked daily. Nothing like a drive-by super soak; it's distinctly Chilean.

PM me if you want additional info. Best of luck!


I welcome all opinions, advice, suggestions, etc. Don't be shy...being forthright is a plus!

Thank you in advance.
.
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Olympus Mons, Mars
5,677 posts, read 8,590,315 times
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how is the environment in Santiago for learning Spanish? Do very few people speak English giving a perfect opportunity to speak more Spanish?
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Old 12-20-2010, 01:04 PM
 
19 posts, read 59,156 times
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I was wondering if you decided to take the job in Chile. If so, how has your experience been so far? I'm also a Black female from the US and moved to Chile in September.

I've experienced much of what callsnap mentioned and agree with the advice of the other posters. Hopefully you did decide to pursue the job because you will definitely get a chance to enjoy life and experience things that most people never will.
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:55 AM
 
2 posts, read 28,609 times
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Default Santiago Experience

Thanks for the information.
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Old 04-27-2011, 04:47 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
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It can be exasperating trying to find a house or apartment in Santiago. I found that people who rent accommodations usually manage their rentals through their lawyer, and even if you find an available place, it can take days to make an arrangement to even see it, and it might not be available for a month. or two. There is a lot of upward mobility, and literally everyone is looking for better digs, and finding them by word of mouth.
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Old 05-08-2011, 06:32 AM
 
1 posts, read 27,859 times
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How hard is it for a us citizen (native spanish speaker) to find a job in chile with a tourist visa?
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