Maggie: Memoirs of a Gringa
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Chile, etc.
I’m originally from Danville, California, a small town outside of San Francisco. Growing up I was lucky enough to be able to travel all around the world. I knew for a long time that I wanted to live abroad. Choosing to move to Chile was an obvious choice. My mom is Chilean and she grew up in Santiago. As soon as I finished my degree in education I hopped on a plane and came down here. It’s hard to believe that was almost two years ago!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging more frequently when I arrived in South America. Initially I wanted to share my new life as an expat with my friends and family back home. It has also given me an opportunity to help others thinking about moving to Chile, especially those interested in teaching.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My trips to an alpaca farm and La Moneda have always been two of my favorites. Some that I really like that are about my job include going to see Batman Live and when I gave my students some interesting flavored candy.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Chile differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I didn’t experience a whole lot of culture shock. Santiago is similar in many ways to other large cities in the United States. I had traveled to Chile several times as a teenager which made the transition a lot easier.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Chile? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think I was as prepared as I could have been. I am very fortunate to have so much family living in Santiago. That definitely made things a lot easier. I think the only thing that would have helped me adjust more is if I had studied more Spanish before arriving.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Don’t overreact during an earthquake. What I consider an earthquake isn’t an earthquake by Chilean standards. They simply refer to it as a tremor. So there’s really no need to flee to the lobby of your apartment in the middle of the night in your pajamas. You just end up looking silly.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Chile?
- If you’re looking for work as a teacher, don’t expect to land a position before arriving in the country. Most of the schools I contacted prior to arriving didn’t even respond until I was here.
- Learn Spanish! And actually use it! I’ve noticed that people respect the fact that you’re at least trying to communicate with them in their own language. And really, if you’re going to be living in a foreign country, it’s best to learn the language. It makes things a whole lot easier!
- Always end your day with a nice glass of Chilean wine. Even the cheap brands are delicious.
How is the expat community in Chile? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There is a huge expat community in Santiago. Both of my roommates are expats from Brazil and I have met expats from all over the world. It is always nice to be able to talk with other foreigners in similar situations. Enjoying the expat life in el pais de loca geografía!
How would you summarize your expat life in Chile in a single, catchy sentence?
Enjoying the expat life in el país de loca geografía!