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Protestas y Carretes – Protests and Parties

Two of the most interesting cultural experiences for me have always been how other nationalities party and how they protest. As it turns out, Chileans are very good at both. Within the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to see both facets of Chile’s national character. I have tried to say yes to every new experience I can while in Chile, and here is where that led me.

El Jolgorio

The idea behind the Jolgorio (literally “revelry” or “merrymaking”) is one of the most comically pragmatic I have heard. A massive party is organized on the UdeC campus with so many participants that the campus security guards are powerless to stop it.

El Jolgorio, in the campus forum.

I’ve heard conflicting ideas on whether regular Chilean police (carabineros) are allowed to enter campus without permission, but I believe the Chancellor’s office has to give them some sort of permission first. With no police presence and a relatively small contingent of security guards, students drink, dance, and smoke with impunity all across the campus forum.

When I briefly checked the Facebook invitation, something like 8,000 people had RSVPed. Read More…

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El Mechoneo – Hazing

El Mechoneo.

El Mechoneo. Photo courtesy deviantart.com

My first day at the university, I saw young students walking around half-dressed, without shoes, and covered in various colors of paint, flour, and other interesting-smelling liquids, so I asked the Chileans in my lab what was going on.

“El mechoneo,” they replied. I didn’t know the word in Spanish, so they explained it to me. Hazing! Read More…

La Paciencia y el Suerte – Patience and Luck

El Cajón del Maipo, outside of Santiago.

A post titled “Patience and Luck” seems to accurately sum up my Fulbright experience so far. Almost two weeks into my stay, I finally have a bit more time to think and reflect, rather than worrying about making my next flight or trying to figure out the best store to buy bed sheets.

I had planned to arrive in Santiago at 10 a.m. Wednesday in time for our 2 p.m. Fulbright orientation, but, thanks to some mechanical delays on my United flight, I spent a very short night in Houston and arrived just before midnight, after rescheduled flights and a layover in Panama City. Paciencia.

Once I actually made it to Santiago, everything went smoothly – I took a shared taxi service to my hotel and crashed for five hours before waking up for day two of orientation. Most of the administrative presentations happened on day one, so I got to listen to a motivated, cosmopolitan group of young people talk about their research projects. Suerte. Read More…