Chile is making a coffee drinker of me…

I am sitting at my desk in EY and taking a break from a mountain of reports and spreadsheets I am working on to reflect on a few things about the working world of Santiago…and more specifically my working world…

Firstly, I have to say that Chile (and a combination of my work and social life) are turning me into a coffee drinker. Prior to arriving here I had only drunk one or two cups of coffee in my entire life (yes, in my entire life) – and one of these was an incredibly strong cup of Arabic coffee in Amman, Jordan with a local family who hardly spoke english and so to avoid any cultural mistakes, I slowly sipped the thick, black brew they proudly gave me. Thankfully Arabic coffee is drunk in very small cups…

I have no idea why I have never drunk coffee, but I just haven´t (I wasn´t even a big tea drinker until the last year or so which really surprised my tea-crazy grandmother in Ireland years ago). But in the last two months, Chile has managed to change my idea of coffee…firstly Chileans in general are nocturnal people and it is very common to only meet friends for a drink after 10 or 11pm, eat dinner very late and therefore go to bed very late. Now most of my friends and family will know that I have always been the exact opposite – a morning person who loves to be in bed early, at least during the week. That has all changed here recently and maybe it is a summer in Santiago phenomenon or I am just becoming more Chilena, but I find I am seldom in bed before midnight.

This would not be a problem really if I wasn´t working crazy hours on a project with EY and still teaching english at the same time. The EY project (for the Metro of Santiago), is all in Spanish and therefore takes ALOT more concentration and time than the same project would in an english environment.   So there have been many occassions lately when a cup of coffee was definitely needed to help me stay awake at my desk or through an early morning english class.

But going back a step, let me elaborate on the work that I was doing before the report writing so that you can understand the true impact this project has had on my language skills. Firstly the research aspect of this project has involved ALOT of reading – reading sustainability reports of other Metro systems (boring in english and excruciating in spanish) and reading nearly 500 press articles relating to the metro from a range of media sources here in Santiago. Truly amazing for my vocabulary skills…now if only the speaking skills could catch up…But these skills are also getting there slowly but surely…recently I ended up working all weekend with two colleagues and I am proud to say the entire weekend was in spanish with practically no english. This was an inconceivable situation to me a few months ago…

I can safely say that now I am the most well educated gringa in Chile when it comes to issues that the Metro and public transport in general have faced in the last year here in Santiago. Now based on all my research and other information, I am busy writing reports on the project and analysing the results…needless to say all in Spanish…Granted, this is with the help of Google Translator and wonderfully patient people like Rodrigo and Coni who are then fixing the translator´s errors…being a machine after all, sometimes it just doesn´t understand my rambling english!

Although this project is extremely time consuming at the moment and in many ways not worth the money I am earning, the benefits I am getting in terms of experience are incredible…new language, new working situation, new country with different issues and themes relating to sustainability etc…all of which will hopefully stand me in good stead for future stable job opportunities…when ever I decide to return to the normal working world that is…

But there is still alot to do and only one week to the deadline, so my coffee is finished and I have to return to my current report and switch my brain back to Spanish. Adios!

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

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One Response to Chile is making a coffee drinker of me…

  1. linda says:

    So glad it is going so well – unbelievable when you think back to about 4/5 months ago when you were really battling to get to grips with the language and the speed with which the Chileans spoke. So well done my love. Will e you later. Looking forward to hearing about Melissa’s news as well. Love Mum

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