Thirty Things You Know if You’re An Exchange Student in Chile

Updated on January 14th, 2019 at 11:37 pm

These 30 things apply mostly to foreigners in Chile. More specifically, exchange students in Santiago, Chile. I have only been studying here a little while but I can tell you right now that if you’ve ever studied in Chile or if you’ve ever traveled extensively in Chile then you will probably be able to relate to this. Psssttt If you are an exchange student in Chile or did a semester abroad there before, and think I missed something, be sure to let me know in the comments!

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You know you’re an extranjero/exchange student in Chile when…

Exchange Student in Chile
Somewhere in Santiago, Chile

1. The only English class you’re taking (your only solace) after a long day is spoken entirely in Spanish and you have to read a Spanish novel.

2. Going home from a carrete (party) at 3am is going home way too early.

3. Pisco sour. Just pisco sour.

4. You’re the only person who doesn’t smoke. Or if you do smoke, you can smoke anywhere you want.

5. You’ve realized that Avocados are their own food group.

6. It’s technically winter but you’re certain even your fingernails are sweating.

7. You accidentally shake your bottle of water and when you open it, it explodes. Sin gas, por favor, sin gas.

8. There is no Plan A. Whether you want to go skiing or hiking or swimming, you will either end up horse-back riding, at the wrong mountain, or at a cinema instead.

9. You no longer spend ALL your money on alcohol because a decent bottle of wine here is about $2.00.

10. You get lost. Wonderfully and happily lost. Every day.

11. You sympathize with sardines because you know how frustrating and claustrophobic it is to take the metro at rush hour.

12. You wear shorts on what you consider to be a “hot day” and Chileans in jackets look at you like you have a third arm.

13. Po.

14. That’s not a cloud. It’s smog.

15. You sit down only to realize you forgot to pay for/ask for/grab toilet paper when you first entered the bathroom. DDFTW (Drip Drying For The Win)

16. The one day you don’t get lost or are on time to class, your professor is really late, or just doesn’t show up.

17. The times that you are late to class, you run into the room and realize your lecture has been changed to a different classroom. Across campus.

18. Bread. It’s not just a food. It’s a way of life. Heaven help you if you have a gluten allergy and you’re living here in Chile.

Exchange Student in Chile | Avocado Toast
A Chilean Classic: Bread and Avocado (Pan y Palta)

19. If you have asthma, like me, (even if it is only “sports induced”) you try to bring your puffer everywhere you go because everyone smokes and that smog is killer.

20. Your friends are not just your friends. They’re your support-system. They’re your family. You actually depend on them a lot for sanity and directions.

21. You get called an idiot (huevona (pronounced way-own-ah)) in the most loving way possible.

22. You take pictures of stray dogs and cats.

23. Some days you wake up feeling like you’ve always been here. Others you wake up thinking “Where the hell am I?” And others still you wake up thinking “Oh my gosh, I’m all the way in Chile! This is so cool and magical and ahhh life is awesome!”

24. Cachai?

25. Your skin, hair and throat are constantly dry. You always crave water and that disgusting sounding English word “moist” actually starts to sound wonderful.

26. You no longer speak English (or whatever your mother tongue is). You now speak Spanglish. And only Spanglish.

27. If they weren’t already, siestas are now common in your day-to-day life.

28. You feel bad after someone explains the same thing to you over and over again so in the end you just nod and smile.

29. The most used phrase in your vocabulary is “No comprendo” (“I don’t understand”).

30. Despite the dry skin, breathing problems, changed plans and missed communications you have a reoccurring nightmare of having to go back home sometime. You miss your family and friends but instead of going back home, you would much rather have them come here.

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About The Author

April Thompson

Updated on January 14th, 2019 at 11:37 pm

April is the founder and main author for Just Leaving Footprints. She has written for numerous blogs and publications such as Explore Magazine and Snow Pak. April loves writing about sustainable tourism, and promoting other sustainable travelers on her Facebook Group and Instagram Community, Ladies for Sustainable Travel. Currently, April is living and teaching English in Mexico City with her husband Arturo and they don’t plan on stopping their travels anytime soon.


  1. jetlaggedjess | 18th Aug 14

    #30 is spot on. I often think how the hell am I ever going to leave?!
    Great post all very valid points

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