I am really happy to share this Spotlight On interview with Emily because, not only is she one of the first friends I made in Chile, but she is also someone who I really admire. I admire Emily because she knows her dreams and has worked hard to make them become a reality, the result of which is her visually stunning blog, Shine A Life. Shine A Life chronicles her travels around the globe as a single mother with her gorgeous tot, Sienna, who is a bit younger than E. Along the way, Emily shares (in 3 languages) travel tips, beautiful photos and – in true Emily style – fashion! I highly recommend giving her blog a look, not least for the stunning images and inspirational content (featured image by local photographer Tamsin!).
Ten Questions with Emily
1. What brought you to Chile?
A Chilean man, of course . It’s funny because once I became an expat mum out in Chile I realized how many (particularly blonde!!) women come to Chile to be with their partners! I met (my now ex) Cristián in Marseilles, France in 2011 where we were both students, and came to Chile for the first time in January 2012 for a three-week visit. That was an amazing trip, in the heat of the summer, and I think I became forever enamored with Chile. Later that year I came back for a 2 month visit but skipped my return flight and stayed for a year until I fell pregnant and moved back to England. I then moved back to Chile with my daughter Sienna when she was 8 months old so that we could all make a life together out there.
2. How does Chilean Spanish compare with the Spanish of Spain? How are the cultures different?
I find the two very different and Chilean Spanish is much easier to understand! I love how it is so musical and the intonation just sounds so lovely! I do try to adapt when speaking to different people because there are a lot of words in Chilean which are completely unique to Chile! Both cultures are very true to their own traditions but they are also very different. Chile felt very much like the « new world » when I first arrived there from Valencia, Spain where I was doing a university exchange.
3. What did you find most difficult adjusting to here?
I definitely found it difficult to tell if people were genuine or not. I was saddened by the classism and had never seen such poverty before (like some of the makeshift housing). When I returned after the birth of my daughter, I found it difficult to stand up for my own values and techniques as a mother which were very different to the traditional Chilean way. I also found the level of contamination pretty shocking and the surrounding mountains towering above the city made me feel a bit blocked in sometimes (I am a lover of the coast).
4. Where is your favorite place in Chile? In Santiago? Any food recommendations?
My visit to San Pedro de Atacama and the surrounding area was one of the best trips I have ever been on. I loved the atmosphere up there! It was a very mystical experience – from the shooting stars to the magnetic energy that literally pulsates through your body if you lie down on the ground, and the deafening silence of the desert.
There are so many great spots in Santiago but my favorites have to be Patronato, Bellas Artes, Quinta Normal and Barrio Italia. My favorite eatery is Quimbaya, a hidden gem I found whilst applying for my Sienna’s Chilean passport. Everything is homemade (even their ice-cream), and their menú is under $5.000. I love their banana passionfruit (« curuba ») juice and their lemon pie is out of this world! Their coffee, imported from Colombia, is also divine.
5. Where is your favorite place to go with children?
I love how there are parks and plazas everywhere which often have playgrounds for little ones, and I think hanging out under a palm tree to stay out of the sun is a pretty awesome pastime!
6. What is it like travelling in Chile with a child? Are there any difficulties?
I didn’t travel a great deal with my daughter within Chile itself apart from getting on and off public transport in Santiago. I’d say it is just better to baby wear if you can because not all of the metro stations have disabled access so you may struggle with a stroller. To leave Chile alone with my daughter, following the breakdown of my relationship with her dad, I needed a notarized letter of consent (as do all parents wanting to leave Chile without the other parent). It was definitely a worry at the time that my daughter’s father would refuse to give us that letter.
7. Do you have any advice for people making the move to Chile?
As with moving to any country I would recommend trying to make friends with other expats as it is great to have a support network that can completely empathize with you and the situation you’re in. By the same token, it is important to meet people from the place you’re in so that you can feel a sense of integration. Learn the language if you can, embrace the culture but don’t be afraid to stick up for your own values.
Chile is a truly amazing country, with breathtaking landscapes, lovely people and a great cuisine – it is so important to focus on the abundance of things it has to offer. If you are moving to Santiago I would recommend getting out of the city as much as possible. It can sometimes feel like Santiago is a world in itself and it’s easy to get caught up in that, but Chile is so much more than just its capital city.
8. What is next for you on your journey?
This week we are relocating to Lisbon, Portugal! After just over two years of hard work, saving and adjusting to single motherhood we have finally gotten to the point where we can leave England again. I never really wanted to return having spent so much time away enjoying warmer climates but I didn’t really have the choice. I knew from the beginning I didn’t want to be here longterm but I didn’t know how long it would take me. I am working hard on monetizing my blog but in the meantime I plan to sign up to some modeling agencies and teach English. I am also really looking forward to us learning Portuguese and all of the other challenges that we will meet along the way. I think it will be a great bonding experience for my daughter and I, and I am so happy to have this extra time with her out of the daily grind we have had over the past couple of years of full-time work and childcare.
9. Tell us about your blog.
is about single-mum-travel with a little one – Portugal will be the ninth country that Sienna and I have travelled to together and we’ve been on over 30 flights so I’ve picked up a tip or two! Shine A Life is meant to be a celebration of the miraculous moments that are forever happening all around, and I have a passion for style, design, food and foreign languages so I like to touch on those subjects too. My aim is to promote independent brands that you wouldn’t usually come across as well as places of interest and inside information from the locals of the world.
10. Favorite places in the world you have visited.
Besides San Pedro de Atacama, another amazing trip I did was around the vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina. It is a stunning area and I loved the vibes – Argentines also seem really friendly! I visited Málaga, Spain for the first time last year and I thought it was a really great city and will definitely return!
Keep updated on Emily´s travels and follow the links here:
Facebook + Instagram @shinealife
If you liked this, then you might like to:
Meet Tamsin, and her stunning photography portfolio;
Meet Siski, and her beautiful watercolors and souvenirs;
Meet Hoda Madi and her incredible abstract artwork;
Meet Sarai and discover about her life in Puente Alto, as well as her small business selling handmade goods;
Meet Sujitra, who prepares the most delicious homemade Indian food;
Meet Sally Rose, author and longtime volunteer in low-income schools.