50 Things to Expect When You Move To Santiago

  1. “Queueing” is a national pastime that is predominately enjoyed anywhere you may need to go to when you have limited time.
  2. When you pay for a service it must be understood that they are doing you a favor, and not the other way around. If a mistake is made, you should apologize profusely and accept all blame (as well as any consequences).
  3. When you eat out, never ask to separate the check.
  4. Taxista’s will always ask you “te acostumbras?”
  5. There are four staples in the Chilean diet: avocado, table salt, olive oil and mayonnaise.
  6. Lunch is dinner, dinner is breakfast, and breakfast is breakfast. That means you will learn to eat alot of bread.
  7. Cakes are not saved for special occasions but are often provided for once.
  8. A “Fuente de Soda” that advertises that it sells pizza is telling you a lie. If by some wierd chance it does, it will be ham and cheese.
  9. Beware the one olive that can be found in most Chilean dishes. Also the random hard-boiled egg.
  10. Always eat your meal/pizza/chips with a knife, fork and serviette.
  11. No bodily function should ever be made in public, be that a yawn/cough/sigh/burp or (heaven forbid) a fart.
  12. Your first visit to a regular Chilean supermarket may make you cry. Especially when you come to the endless aisles of milk in boxes. Sitting on the shelf.
  13. Your kitchen will soon begin to overflow with plastic bags.
  14. Everyone who works in a service-related job makes peanuts and thus expects a tip.
  15. If you have blonde hair, you will likely get stared/tooted at.
  16. If you go anywhere with a man, expect everyone to talk to him instead of you (even if you ask them a question).
  17. Do not expect people to speak English. Even though they know all the words to Taylor Swift and Metallica, and Providencia looks like suburb of Sydney, you are still in Chile!
  18. Always remember to get your fruit and vegetables labelled with their weight and barcode BEFORE you get to the checkout!
  19. Expect everyone to assume that you are from the United States
  20. Do not be taken aback if Chileans refer to themselves as Americans.
  21. Expect buskers on all forms of public transport
  22. Expect said buskers to be extraordinarily amazing (like all Chilean musicians)
  23. Not all pebres are created equal.
  24. Avoid sharing political views
  25. Never travel on public transport with a pushchair between 5-8pm on a weekday
  26. Not all Chileans can dance
  27. Expect to know a teatowel like never before (practicing cueca before 18 September)
  28. Dogs have right of way on footpaths
  29. Expect to visit the doctor more than ever before
  30. Do not assume the metro will be push-chair/disabled-access friendly.
  31. People will assume that you are rich, because you are foreign
  32. You will be expected to have a good job based solely upon your English-language skills. If you break the mold and tell them you do not, they will be flabbergasted and express pain on your behalf
  33. No-one will ever have change for 10,000 peso note. You have 20,000? Hahahahaha!
  34. Everyone has a nana. Sometimes even the nana has a nana.
  35. Beware the word caliente.
  36. Never ever use the word “stupid” when conversing with a Chilean
  37. Don’t ask to take off your shoes when you enter a house – they don’t expect it
  38. Expect shock if you admit you don’t use shoes inside in your house.
  39. You can go to a store and buy a single slice of cheese
  40. Your hair will never be “normal” when using Santiago showers
  41. If you use heels and don’t work in an office/live in the east, they will hear you in Valpo – no-one wears heels!
  42. Every single person on a metro trip will be using their cell phone
  43. Dogs wear clothes
  44. If it rains, expect chaos.
  45. If you have a television, expect endless news and weather reports
  46. If you find a good hairdresser, guard that information with your life (and share on English Speaking Mums!)
  47. Patronato is not the cheapest place to buy clothes.
  48. Chinese food is considered the ultimate in exotic cuisine.
  49. Strikes and protests are a daily occurence. I wish you speed, dear reader, if you must travel home during one.
  50. Parks and playgrounds make wonderful places to make out with your partner, smoke and enjoy illegal substances.
  51. 10987470_10153069329695097_2165291467769884053_n
    Being the odd one out 🙂

    And a few more based on comments:

  52. Dresses are not required for a night out in Bellavista
  53. Nescafe counts as real coffee
  54. A temblor is not a cause for alarm (rather it makes a nice way to fall asleep)
  55. Tea is served without milk with the bag left in
  56. Expect a paradise for cheap fruit, vegetables and flowers!
  57. Eating out is a wallet workout
  58. If you don’t like heights, skip Costanera Centre
  59. Do cross the road when there are cars turning because they will always give way …
  60. … but do not expect anyone to stop for you at a zebra crossing!
  61. There are only three types of cakes: Manjar, Tres Leches, & Pie de Limon
  62. About to walk into someone? Always pass to the right
  63. Flipflops/thongs are only acceptable during the heat of summer
  64. English “chavs” will fit right in
  65. The best accompaniment to salad is lemon and salt
  66. Salads are never mixed and especially never with cheese!
  67. You will be asked for your RUT everywhere you go
  68. Do not flush toilet paper down the loo!

Blog image kindly reproduced by Hoda Madi: https://www.facebook.com/Hoda-Madi-Artist-172734743080409/?fref=ts

5 thoughts on “50 Things to Expect When You Move To Santiago

  1. Wish I had the time to add my bunch to your list 😉 But I’ll contribute with one of the weirdest things which no one has ever been able to explain to me: Expect people to wear sunglasses on the metro…(and even read books and send text messages with them ON!)

    (commented on your hospital entry on Find in Chile and am now following your blog- lovely writing)


  2. Thank you so much for allowing me to read your blog. I really love it! I’m Chilean, however I lived 4 years in the US. You have shown me the real reality of many places of Santiago. I cried with your experience in Roberto del Rio’s hospital and I laughed at all the Chilean’s costumes you have witnessed
    Just these words for the moment. You’ll be hearing from me again

    Take care and thanks again,



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