While every day of my semester has been unique so far (with the uniqueness to continue all semester long, since we have different class schedules and excursions depending on the week/day), here’s a rundown of today to give you a feel for daily life in Santiago de Chile.
7:30AM: Alarm goes off next to my bed. Snooze.
7:40AM: Alarm goes off next to my bed. Snooze.
7:50AM: Alarm goes off next to my bed. Ok…now I’ll actually get up. As with every day, it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning since the vast majority of Chilean homes aren’t heated, and it’s winter here. The comfort of my four layers of blankets will have to wait until tonight. Put on a Patagonia wool sweater and wearily make my way to the table for breakfast.
7:55AM: Eat breakfast, which has already been laid out on the table by my host mother before she left for work. Heat up some water in the kitchen for the requisite first couple cups of tea of the day. Eat some sliced bananas mixed with yogurt and some white bread with apricot marmelade. Clear table.
8:15AM: Head to the calefont (gas-fueled hot water heater that is typically found in Chilean homes) at the end of the kitchen. Turn gas valve to start flow of propane, light match, stick it in calefont, prepare for shower.
8:20AM: Head to the bathroom, which is always FREEZING in the morning thanks to its perpetually open vertical slit-like window. I guess I could close it one day, but nobody seems to have touched it, so I’ll just keep it as is. Builds character. Proceed to tweak the individual hot and cold water valves until I reach a happy medium somewhere between burn-your-skin-off hot and antarctic cold (harder to achieve than you might think).
8:35AM: Check weather forecast online, get dressed accordingly. Open curtains. Stare at Andes mountains for a bit. Put on layers of warm clothing, even though the forecast says 65 and partly sunny. At this hour, it’s only in the low 40s outside.
8:45AM: Brush teeth, pack up things for class. Make sure I have at least one still camera and one video camera in my bag for whatever might need to be documented that day.
8:55AM: Head out the door, but not before grabbing my bagged lunch on the kitchen counter and turning off the calefont (nobody likes death by negligent calefonting). Walk a couple of blocks east to meet up with Gülce, one of the girls in my group who lives nearby.
9:00AM: Walk 3/4 mile down Avenida Simón Bolivar to Avenida Ossa, where we descend into the Simón Bolivar metro station.
9:20AM: Pass my Tarjeta BIP! by the proximity reader at the turnstile. Card doesn’t register. Works after a few tries. Screen on turnstile tells me I have 880 pesos left on my card — enough for a couple more peak-hour rides (420 pesos per ride). Guess I’ll have to recharge this afternoon.
9:22AM: Wait on the platform for the next Tobalaba-bound train. It’s peak rush hour, so the next train arrives about 45 seconds after the previous one leaves the station. While waiting for the train, catch up on the news being displayed on the several widescreen Samsung TVs that are mounted over the platform.
9:23AM: Next metro train arrives…fortunately it isn’t packed beyond belief. Board train, take backpack off and put it between my legs on the floor, and watch highlights from last night’s World Cup qualifier game between Brazil and Chile on one of the three flat screen TVs in the metro car. Get stared at for obviously not being a Chilean, since I’m taller than a good 95% of the people on the train, and I’m blond.
9:35AM: After three stops, arrive at Tobalaba station, which marks the end of Line 4 of the metro. Disembark with everyone else on the train and join the stampede to connect to Line 1.
9:38AM: Board San Pablo-bound Line 1 metro at Tobalaba and head towards our stop of Estación Central.
9:43AM: Doors have been open at Salvador station for a good two mintues now…everyone on board starting to get fidgety.
9:45AM: Announcement on the train tells us that the train is delayed. I think we’re all aware.
9:50AM: Announcement on the train orders an immediate evacuation of the train. Nobody’s panicking, so I guess there’s no need to worry about a bomb or anything. A second announcement follows, telling us that service between Salvador and Baquedano (the next station) has been suspended. Everyone leaves the station and is handed a ticket with the word “Evacuación” on it by a Metro de Santiago employee.
9:55AM: Make a call to Eduardo, the assistant director of my program, to tell him that Gülce and I have just been evacuated off the metro and will definitely be late for the 10AM start of this morning’s lecture at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH). Upon surfacing to street level, we observe the curbs are crowded with evacuated metro passengers trying to get a ride on the already-packed micros (city buses). There’s no way we’re gonna fit on one of these buses unless we strap ourselves to the roof, so we start walking towards Baquedano station.
10:05AM: Descend into Baquedano station and overhear an announcement that explains that all service between Escuela Militar and Salvador (everywhere east of where I am now) has been suspended. Good thing we’re heading west. Board new metro train and continue to Estación Central.
10:15AM: Get off at Estación Central and make the short walk to the Faculty of Administration and Economics at USACH.
10:20AM: Almost an hour and a half after leaving my apartment, I’m at class (Economic Development & Globalization seminar) in our classroom that is sponsored by Ernst & Young. Lecturer today is talking about agriculture policy in Latin America…right up my alley! Even better, he actually has a good powerpoint presentation, unlike a bunch of the other profs we’ve had in our seminar. Our class comprises of us 10 Americans with SIT and five Chileans who are in the class more for intercultural exchange than for their own knowledge.
11:00AM: Coffee break in the middle of the seminar (10AM-12PM). Walk to the cafeteria in the next building over to get an excellent café cortado that’s dispensed from a NesCafé machine. Can’t beat a 50 cent cup of quality coffee. We’re actually given coffee vouchers every day at USACH, so make that a free cup of quality coffee.
11:15AM: Return to the classroom for 45 more minutes of lecture.
12:00PM: At the end of the lecture, the professor asks us our majors and mine elicits laughter from the group because it is so perfectly aligned with what this guy studies. He gives his business card to everyone in the class and asks us to contact him in the future if we have any further questions. He’ll definitely be a good contact later in the semester when I’m working on my Independent Study Project (ISP). Stick around USACH for an hour as I finish up essays about our summer reading books (technocratic democracy anyone? anyone at all?) that are due this afternoon.
1:00PM: Hop on the Escuela Militar-bound metro at Estación Central. Whatever disruption happened earlier has been taken care of.
1:25PM: Arrive at Tobalaba and go to print my essays at an internet café.
1:40PM: Head back across Avenida 11 de Septiembre to the SIT / WorldLearning offices and eat my packed lunch with some of my compañeros del grupo.
2:30PM: First session of our two credit Field Studies Seminar…one of our less frequent classes. Discuss the process of experiential learning and cultural analysis with Fernando, our program’s director.
4:00PM: Class is done for the day. Head down to the Tobalaba metro station to head back to Simón Bolivar with three groupmates. Recharge my Tarjeta BIP! with 5000 pesos of credit (~$10). Stop by the cafe/bakery inside the metro station to grab a water before heading down to the platform.
4:25PM: Arrive at Simón Bolivar and proceed a block south to CineHoyts3D, a monstrosity of a movie theater located in a relatively boring part of Avenida Ossa (it’s bordered by a gas station and private homes). Get in line for tickets to Tony Manero, a movie about a dancer during the repressive Pinochet era of Chile in the 1970s.
4:30PM: I’ve checked in for international flights faster than the people ahead of me are buying their movie tickets. Turns out if you have Movistar cell service in Chile, you get a discount at CineHoyts, so all of these people are waiting for discount code text messages as they buy their tickets. It’s already plenty cheap compared to the US…about $5.
4:35PM: After getting ticket to Tony Manero, proceed to snack bar. Debating whether I should go to the Dunkin Donuts that’s right next to the snack bar. Nah…gotta have popcorn.
4:40PM: Head upstairs to the third floor of this 16-screen multiplex. There’s a full-fledged café on the second floor, and another full snack bar on the third. Our theater has some serious stadium seating and there around four other people here.
7:15PM: Emerge from CineHoyts with puzzled faces and minds. A serial killer who aspires to be John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever (comically translated in Spanish as ‘Fiebre de Sábado por la noche’)? Really? Was all of that blunt trauma really necessary? Could they have developed maybe ONE other character besides the protagonist? Very strange movie.
7:30PM: Arrive home. Go online, check email, facebook, flickr, etc. Read on the website of a Santiago newspaper that this morning’s metro disruption was caused by a woman falling onto the tracks (or throwing herself onto the tracks) at the Los Leones station. Whether or not it was a suicide attempt is unclear, but she was alive following the incident/accident and was taken to a hospital by paramedics judging by a video I watched online.
8:00PM: My host mother returns home from work, comes to say hi, and starts preparing dinner.
8:45PM: Dinner is served. Tonight: Lentils with parmesean cheese (yum) and a plate of boiled (?) cauliflower or something like it. Followed by some white bread with apricot jam and manjar (‘man-har’), which is a brown cream made from sugar and boiled milk that resembles peanut butter in consistency but caramel in flavor. Finished off with a cup of tea and a small cup of Chicha, a slightly fizzy, tangy, and sweet Chilean liquor made from grapes but stronger than wine. Apparently the upcoming Fiestas Patrias holiday on September 18th is all about drinking Chicha and eating empanadas. mmm.
9:45PM: Retreat back to my room and take care of some reading, and this blog post.
1:00AM: Good Night!