Written by: Rebecca Ruh, Foster School Undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Chile
For el dieciocho, a Chilean celebration of independence on September 18th, I desired to spend it with Chileans. Some other foreign exchange students invited me to travel with them, but I yearned for the true Chilean experience. After all, spending one of the biggest Chilean holidays with a bunch of gringos wouldn’t give me a true sense of the special day, but more of an Americanized version. So when one of my Chilean friends invited me to join him and 14 of his guy friends in Algarrobo on the coast, I immediately said yes.
To tell you the truth, I’d only talked with this “friend” two times prior to his invitation and so joining him and all of his friends in a house for four days seemed a little risky, but at the same time I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to make more friends and experience la Fiesta Patria the Chilean way. Plus I figured that it is situations like these where putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is more than necessary and often results in spontaneous fun, often better than anything planned.
In a matter of four days, these Chileans introduced me to a holiday to be remembered. The days were filled with the beach, volleyball, paddleball, and flea markets while the evenings with piscolas (pisco and coca cola) and wine paired with enough meat to feed an army. Then when midnight hit, we’d make way to the fonda, a fair, with terremotos and chicha (two famously sweet Chilean drinks), churros with manjar, and la Cueca (a traditional Chilean dance), only to return to the house to continue storytelling.
In addition to experiencing and learning so much about Chilean culture, I met some great friends who welcomed me with open arms and included me in every activity. I felt beyond comfortable and anything but anxious and worrisome. I’m so thankful for days like these and the adventurous spirit that pushes me to test my boundaries.