Pontificia Catolica

No Trek for Amateurs

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Written by: Rebecca Ruh, Foster School Undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Chile


About halfway through my time in Santiago, my fellow Coloradan friend asked me if I would like to join him for a day of hiking just on the outskirts of Las Condes, una comuna in the city of Santiago. Loving the outdoors and hiking, I leapt at the offer.

What began as a leisurely hike soon transformed into a workout for pros. The first hour passed relatively easy but the following five entailed much exhaustion due to the steep incline and lack of tread on my shoes. After all, the desert sand was no match for my indoor running shoes. As we passed the other hikers clad with trekking poles and professional gloves, they scoffed at the sight of these American amateurs. One lady, with a pitying look on her face even gave me one of her poles saying that I would need it for the journey down the mountain and she was more than right.

rebecca2When we finally ascended the summit and trudged through the snow up top, quite different from the desert sand when we began our journey, the smell of victory was in the air. After finishing 15 miles of pure uphill battle 20 minutes from the center of the city, I felt so proud. First it was amazing that such a view lay so close to the heart of Santiago, much less that we could take in the skyline since we had climbed much higher than the view-hindering pollution now below us. Secondly, this was the thrill that I seek – exploring a region, seeing cacti to snow in the matter of several thousand meters, and talking to the locals about this hidden gem of a view that lay before us. Couldn’t get much better than that. The best 11 hours to spend a Sunday. Man, I love this country.

El Dieciocho the Chilean Way

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

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.


Bucket List Item #22…Check

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

by Rebecca Ruh, Foster School Undergraduate, Foster Exchange in Chile

This past weekend Diego, my Peruvian friend, and Lisbeth, my Spanish amiga, accompanied me to Valparaíso, a port city about an hour and a half from Santiago. Amongst our exploring of the city filled with the brightest walls, an interesting stay at a hostel, visiting one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, and sampling anticuchos (cow heart) and sopapillas from street vendors, we made our way a little further up the coast to Con Con to take a whirl at sandboarding















When we arrived I was shocked to see such a view – sand dunes towering high above the ocean with its majestic blue waters directly below us. With only three other small groups there, it felt like we had the land to ourselves, all the better so fewer people could gape at our amateur boarding skills and smirk at our clumsy wipeouts (even though I found great pleasure in laughing at my ineptness). Our first attempts down the massive dunes culminated in trips and spills, becoming very familiar with the rough sand. But soon, paving our way down the dunes became more natural and my confidence in my sandboarding abilities grew. As we descended the hills and the sun cast its rays on the water, I soaked in the skyline, ingraining it on my mind, vowing to never forget this moment directly before my eyes. I couldn’t believe it – crossing bucket list item #22, sand-boarding, from my list for a grand total of $3 with some of the most breathtaking scenery halfway around the world and great company. You could say I am one lucky girl.

Finding Home Abroad

Monday, November 14th, 2011

By: Nicole Winjum,  Foster Undergraduate

My time in Santiago has been great. I have been meeting people from around the globe, trying new food, seeing new sights, and hearing Spanish 24/7. Though I have never been the type of person to get homesick, I sometimes find myself longing for something a little less exotic and a little more familiar. Santiago really isn’t that different from any major city in the US, but it’s the small differences that really stand out. They have the same kinds of cell phones, but the carriers are different. They have department stores and malls, but most of the stores are different. People chat as they walk down the street, but the language is different. These slight deviations underline that I am in a foreign city far from home, and though I love the newness and the excitement this city brings, there are times when I just want the simplicity and familiarity of the US.

This is when I love that there are American stores here. Don’t get me wrong, I love discovering local stores and restaurants, but to me, being a business student and a fan of capitalism, nothing screams USA (and home) louder than an international corporation. I love that I can walk into a mall here and buy an overpriced vegan conditioner from Lush like I would at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle. I love that I can walk through an Apple store and play with their iPads like I often do at U Village. I love that there is a Ruby Tuesday’s down the street from my house (even though I have never eaten there, here or in the US). But mostly I love that I can walk into a Starbucks here and buy an iced peppermint latte that tastes exactly the same as the latte I would buy on the Ave on my way to class. More than any other American store, Starbucks represents home for me. Probably because I live in Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks, and because I have been going to Starbucks for as long as I can remember. Even when I was younger we went, though my parents would make me get hot chocolate or decaf coffee. Yes it’s overpriced, even more so here than in the states, but paying $6 for a latte and a reminder that I am not so far removed from home as I sometimes feel, is totally worth it.

A Few Facts About Santiago, Chile

Monday, September 12th, 2011

By: Nicole Winjum, Foster Undergraduate

I have been working on this blog post for awhile, making note of differences and simple facts of life I have seen while living in Santiago, Chile. It’s certainly not a complete list, and I am sure I’m forgetting something, but here are a few of the things I’ve noticed.

PDA: There is a lot of it, and not just the hand-holding, brief kiss on the lips kind. I’m talking making out on the subway, literally lying on top of each other in the park, openly groping each other in the street kind. In the United States, PDA is usually frowned upon, and while you might see the occasional couple going at it, those sightings are few and far between. But not here. If you are young and in love in Santiago, you are all for displaying that love for everybody to see. Seeing couples being so touchy-feely in public has definitely taken some getting used to.

Dogs: They are everywhere. Not only does just about every Chilean family seem to own a dog or three, but there is an abundance of street dogs with no apparent home. You can always hear dogs barking at all hours of the day and night and everywhere you look there are dogs laying about in the sun. And the truly surprising thing is that, unlike the half-starved mangy dogs in Costa Rica, these dogs all seem to be fairly well fed.

Streets: Nobody cleans them. I mean, not every street is covered in stuff, but many are. This was most noticeable in Valparaiso, but it’s true in Santiago too. The other day when I was riding the Micro (that’s the bus system) we passed by a street that looked like an entire farmers market worth of vegetables got thrown about. It was crazy. And it isn’t just vegetables and pieces of plastic. Due to the abundance of dogs I mentioned earlier, there is dog crap everywhere. You have to constantly be on the lookout so you don’t accidentally step in something gross.

Bread: Eaten with every meal. Which is actually something I am quite thrilled with. I love bread and, due to my somewhat finicky eating habits, it is often the only food I can eat while traveling to foreign countries. But the Chileans eat bread as often as the French. It’s primarily sold in these funny little 4-roll loaves (see photo). For breakfast you might have one or two rolls slathered in butter and jam with a cup of tea. For lunch and dinner, you may use a roll to clean your plate or as an appetizer. For dessert, a little bit of manjar spread on some bread can not be beat. I was surprised by the sheer amount of bread consumed here, but I am not complaining!

Smoking: Everybody does it. I’m no stranger to smoking. My mom smokes, and I know a lot of people who might smoke a cigarette or two while drinking, but most of the people I know back home really do not smoke. Which is not that surprising considering the ad campaigns and research studies we are inundated with, telling us that smoking kills. But here it is as if nobody is getting those messages. I have heard about places like France having a lot of smokers, but I just was not really expecting it here. The most surprising is the number of younger Chileans that smoke, college age and even younger. In the US, it seems like the majority of smokers that I know are older, people who have been smoking before the health risks became so well known. But in any case, this has been one of the harder things to become accustomed too, since I really can’t stand the smoke.

Lemons: They love them. Seriously, I never knew people could like lemons so much; they put it on everything. You ordered a salad? Squeeze some lemon juice on it. You’re eating some fish? It’ll taste better with some lemon juice on it. You want a snack? Just snack on a lemon. I have literally seen people on the bus just sucking on a lemon. With dinner every night we usually have a side salad, which is iceberg lettuce with lemon juice, oil, and salt. Sometime we will have a carrot salad or a broccoli salad or a cauliflower salad. Which just involves said vegetable, lemon juice, oil, and salt. I believe I’m actually becoming quite fond of lemons. :)

A few other things to note…

  • The typical greeting is the one-cheek kiss, and it can get awkward if you go for the handshake and they go for your face.
  • They are big fans of avocado here, which surprised me for some reason, but I love avocado so it’s okay with me.
  • There is a sad lack of cheese here, and the few types they have are pretty expensive. I want to eat more or less like a local, so it isn’t so bad, but I am definitely missing cheese.
  • Names can get a bit confusing: In my 25-person Marketing class, there are 7 girls named Maria.
  • This isn’t the Spanish you have been learning in class. Yes the words are more or less the same, but their vocab is a little different and some phrases have different connotations. They also speak very fast here and sometimes drop the “s”. The youth say cachai? after almost every sentence which basically means “you know” “understand?”
  • Ciao is the customary goodbye around here. I know I lot of countries use Ciao as a goodbye, but I still associate it with Europe, so it caught me a bit off guard.

Thanksgiving in the Summertime!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!Chile, Sara2

 Having never been responsible for an entire thanksgiving dinner myself, I would like to start out by saying that I am exhausted!  It’s much harder to celebrate family and food in a country where your family isn’t and with food that’s just not the same… but we made do and as far as I’m concerned our potluck style Thanksgiving was a complete success.

 Two other gringas and myself have been planning this meal since we got here in August (which was the middle of winter and seemed like a much more appropriate time to be eating turkey and pumpkin pie than it does right now since it’s about 90 degrees outside).  I even asked my parents to bring me some Thanksgiving essentials when they came to visit (Thanks you guys!) but that didn’t keep us from running into a few problems.

 Our first issue was the fact that turkeys are out of season in Chile at the moment.  As a replacement, we settled for BBQing every other kind of meet people could get their hands on.

 I myself spent the better part of the day trying to recreate an already untraditional pumpkin pie that my family makes every year.  What I ended up with was a really untraditional pumpkin pie a la Chile.  Besides the obvious aesthetic differences between my “pie” and the original, I lost track of how many alterations I made to the recipe.  It’s easy to say “Pop over to the store and get vanilla pudding mix, heavy whipping cream, and ginger”… but the execution of that HERE is a little tricky, given issues with translation and the fact that some of that stuff (specifically vanilla pudding mix) just doesn’t seem to exist here.  I think it must have turned out alright since there was none left by the end!

Chile, Sara1 Over 40 people ended up coming, and it wasn’t just Americans that wanted to celebrate either.  Folks from Canada, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Finland, El Salvador, and Chile (obviously) all showed up.  I don’t think any one person knew everyone that was there (not even Matt, who essentially hosted this whole event on the roof of his apartment building).  I certainly hadn’t met everyone before!  We left the invitation open so some people brought boyfriends and girlfriends from other universities in Santiago, some people brought cousins or host family members, some people brought friends they’d made at church, and of course there were classmates as well.

 Besides just being a really enjoyable evening and a nice break from studying, it was also a perfect close to the school year.  A couple people showed up with guitars towards the end so they played and we sang and it just felt like the end of camp.  Also, as depressing as this thought is, it was the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to a bunch of people that I’m probably never going to see again. 

 As unconventional as our feast was, I have to say it was probably one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever had.

Escape from the Smog!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
Sarah Peterson ChileSo I started a blog about a bunch of useful things to know for living in Santiago, but it was exceptionally boring and part of the fun of living abroad is figuring these things out for yourself… so I started over.

If you need to get out of the city and the smog, its fairly easy to buy a bus ticket and go someplace outside of Santiago for the weekend.  I’ve taken some great trips with other students from la Catolica but one of my favorites was last weekend when a group of 8 of us when down south to Pucon.

Pucon is mostly a tourist destination for the outdoor enthusiast but it’s also, so I’m told, a good place to find a party on the beach during the summer.  There’s hiking, horseback riding, rafting, bikes for rent, a volcano to climb and a whole street full of “tourist agencies” where you can sign up for these activities. 

After visiting a couple different places to compare prices etc. we decided to go “hidrospeeding”, which is similar to white water rafting… except that you, individually, are in the water and I think it’s illegal in some parts of the US.  If you’re curious, look it up on youtube!  Its well worth going in my opinion!! (this is the video the guide made of our group.  I guess my name is Salan now) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BKy4_kAm0E

We had planned on hiking the volcano the next day (which is about a 6 hr trip give or take an hour or two depending on your group and your guide) but it was pouring rain so we went horseback riding instead.  We chose a trail through a Mapuche community and up a mountain, which turned into a 20 minute hike in the mud at the end since the horses couldn’t make it up the slope.  We got back home soaking wet, muddy, full of really good mapuche food and really happy that we’d sucked it up and gone despite the rain.

On Sunday we finally got to climb the volcano, Villarica, which was by far the highlight of the weekend and probably one of the most intense things I have ever done.  Because of all the rain the day before, the higher parts of the climb were PURE ICE and it was terrifying (for me anyway!).  Besides making it to the summit in one piece, the best part was getting to strap on a huge diaper-ish thing and sliding all the way back down the mountain on your butt… which is also much more intense than it sounds!

But don’t take my word for it!

Esto sólo se vive una ves (You only live this once)

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

jd.JPGI left for my study abroad experience in Santiago, Chile on July 24, 2007 with hundreds of emotions/thoughts running through my head, seriously considering canceling my trip after my first layover in Dallas. I knew I was going to be gone for a long time and I was going to miss my family. On top of that, it seemed as though EVERYTHING was pointing for me to return home on that 18 hour trip down south. Flight delays, excess baggage weight, lost documents, etc… Although, knowing that upon arrival I still had to find a place to live, I was hoping that my situation would better.

After living in Santiago for two months, with three more to go, who knew that I didn’t want to ever leave?

My name is Josué David Mendoza and I’m a senior at the Foster School of Business double majoring in Business Administration with a focus in Finance, Spanish and also committed to completing the Certificate in International Studies injd-1.JPG Business (CISB). As mentioned above, I’m currently on a direct exchange program at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile taking up economics, finance, and culture courses in Spanish.

Throughout my stay, I’ve tried explaining to many people my experience here in Santiago and have found that the only way has been through an analogy using my first time snowboarding.

In this risky sport, half the battle is deciding to take it up. Once you are up at the top of the mountain, the other half begins. After the first time falling, I convinced myself seconds later that I would never take up this sport again. My decision disappointed me and only motivated me to throw myself back at the top of that mountain to only keep on falling. After about 5 hours, and several ice packs, I had a change of heart.

The next morning I realized that I had muscles in places that I didn’t think even existed. I hurt like no other, but knew that I had conquered that mountain, even though it had literally beaten me up.

jd-2.jpgMy experience getting to and in Santiago has been very similar to this experience I had one day on that mountain. Early on my freshman year at the University of Washington, I took the risk of enrolling in CISB which I knew would “force” me to take upon myself an experience abroad. The trip to Santiago, Chile was hectic and the first month in the country was lonely and literally cold in many respects. At one point, the first month in Chile, I couldn’t wait to return to Seattle in December 2007 until finally I was able to get the “hang” of things.

Seven months later after first stepping foot on the country, I was glad I had extended my stay from December 2007 (when I was supposed to leave) to September 2008. I have seen a lot yes, but most importantly have been able to make best friends who have taught me a lot about myself and continue to learn every day.

Sunny Santiago

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Hola from Chile! I am currently a CISB Spanish track member studying abroad in Santiago de Chile. Unlike a lot of the others from this blog, I have been here in Chile since July! I know, it’s crazy, I can hardly believe I am in the second half of my study abroad experience. Three months have passed since arriving, so I will just give a few highlights of my experience thus far.

santiago1.jpgI am attending Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) which is a very nice university with four campuses in four different parts of the city. Currently, there are about 500 exchange students attending PUC and I have met people from all over the world. My classes are a great mix of foreign and Chilean students, which I really like! Most of my classes are at the San Joaquin campus which is located about 25 minutes outside of the city center. Although it takes a while to get to campus, one cannot complain about the scenic views; the Andes Mountains loom over the campus making it an ideal place to take some photos and enjoy the impressive Chilean environment. (more…)