5 Easy Steps to Adjust Quickly in Chile

Hello fellow Bulls!!

By @cathiegomez


Catherine Gomez reporting in from Santiago, Chile, delayed by about a month in all honesty. That’s how long it took me to adjust. Now your first assumption might be that the delay was caused by culture shock, you’d be WRONG. As a Latina and a frequent traveler my beef wasn’t with the Chilean culture but with my own dependence on my family. This dependent family dynamic also comes from my Latina background. In retrospect this impact was also due to the accumulation of events leading up to my departure. Upon leaving I moved out of my home, quit my job, and sold my car. In three or so weeks I experienced depression, crippling social anxiety, and a couple of existential crisis lol. You might be thinking to yourself, WOW what a failure, what could she possibly have to offer as advice?? Well, I have the golden wisdom of the rear view mirror and experience. So without further ado, here are the Gomez Rules of Adjustment:


  1. Couchsurfing – For almost the two weeks I was in Chile I stayed with a Couchsurfer. For those who are unfamiliar with Couchsurfing, its like Airbnb but free. I’ve hosted and been hosted nationally and internationally and have nothing but rave reviews. I asked one Couchsurfer just pick me up from the airport because I knew it would be chaotic from the multiple times I’ve flown into Latin American countries. His name was Alexis, he is a Tango teacher and a complete gentleman. He bought me my bus ticket into town, rode the bus with me, carried my bags, bought me my first metro card (that I’m still currently using), and made me lunch. He then walked me to my host’s home, where I stayed for the rest of the time. My host family was located in what is still my favorite neighborhood in all of Santiago, it’s called Lastarrias. They were especially perfect because the husband is a VR teach, and artist, AND knew the professor I was pursuing as my Fulbright application affiliate. Now to give you context on why this was the most perfect match ever made, I will disclose more about myself. I am a New Media research based artist. My work deals with emerging technologies like VR, which I was currently experimenting with. Couchsurfers serve as local tour guides, they show you around, introduce you to people, and are usually well traveled cool people. So I recommend this website Couchsurfing.com, it’s free and it can help you create a network in your industry. If you feel uncomfortable with this tip the same degree of networking can be achieved by stalking connections and future friends before you arrive on social media and then meeting up with them once you arrive. That method is basically a deconstructed version of Couchsurfing.


  1. Ask Strangers for Help – My second tip and probably the hardest one to overcome is ask people for help! ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE. I am fluent in spanish and Chilean slang, like most Latin countries, is really intense. They have different words for EVERYTHING. Examples, please excuse the spelling:
  1. Palta = Avocado
  2. Comfor = Toilet Paper
  3. Pololo = Boyfriend
  4. Cachai = Understand
  5. Copete = Booze

The gist of the examples is, even if you’re fluent, transitioning is always tricky. Don’t underestimate it. Ask strangers for help all the time. Doing it frequently will make it easier, if you try to figure every single thing out by yourself before you ask for help, you WILL tire yourself out. Trying to overcompensate in this manner, by being Mrs.Self-Sufficient, at least in my experience is arrogant and useless. Save your energy and time, and ask the wonderful, sweet, and super generous people around you for help. Most of the time you will find someone going the same direction as you, a cute mate, or another foreigner that will console you in your search.

  1. Get Plugged in Through Your Favorite Connections – Gomez Rule #3 is, when thou finds an amazing connection branch out from that seed. To elaborate, ask that favored connection to introduce you to their network. By doing this you can meet people that speak your native tongue, in your industry, of your same age group, of your same interests, or just more awesome people! An easy way to break the ice (assuming you’re of drinking age) is to buy the group a round of drinks or specifically the other person you want to befriend. If you aren’t of drinking age, the same atmosphere can be achieved by buying a pizza.


  1. Roommates Save Lives – My angel of a roommate has been a saving grace MULTIPLE times. I highly recommend roommates if you know you don’t enjoy spending LOADS of time alone. Most countries have some sort of website or method of finding roommates. Roommates provide a plug-n-play sort of network, you’ll automatically be immersed in a group of friends. This being said, be very specific about who you choose. Roommates have a bad rap for good reason, a bad roommate can be the end of all good things. I chose mine based on their age, gender, and industry. They are older because I am an old soul, they’re boys because I bond easier with boys, and they’re in the arts. They.are.perfect. My roommate Pablo keeps tabs on whether I haven’t left my room in days and is always willing to help me do super tedious tasks, like find, buy, and move a mattress in the middle of the night. Also if you need space you can always retreat to your room.


  1. Routines are a Must – I have Dyscalculia and ADHD, so basically my memory and capacity for numbers is complete garbage. The way I compensate for this is by establishing routines to make sure my needs and goals are met, because meeting these makes me happy. I follow several routine gurus like Tim Ferris and read tons of books that use CEOs and geniuses as examples for what simple daily tasks make huge differences. These gurus and books all perpetuate the beauty of “ The American Dream” that is (ignoring the rampant materialism), hard work always pays off. Repetition is key! This idea of routine, repetition, and practice making a difference is what I rely on to get me through. In the arts there’s a saying “Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration.”, when you’re overloaded by your circumstances abroad rely on a semblance of the routines you had at home. This tip will help you get back into your groove.

Hope you find your place,


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