Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Aqui Phrases Guide - Sentences You Might Want To Keep

During my trip to Chile I kept on me a small journal where I wrote the most important phrases I thought I would need talking to others and getting around, which proved to be a godsend. I don't promise that they're perfect but the locals will understand what you're after. Here are a few of the notable phrases I used a lot:

  • [Item] por favor - [Item] please
  • Que es esto en espanol? - What is this in Spanish? 
  • Que es esto? - What is this? 
  • Tiene cafe / taza de te? - Do you have coffee / tea? 
  • Como se va [Destination]? - How do I get to [Destination]?
  • Hay algun autobus que vaya a [Destination]? - Is there a bus to [Destination]?
  • Esta lejos? - Is it far? 
  • Perdone - Pardon / Excuse me  (to get attention)
  • Como voy a [Destination]? - Another way to say: How do I get to [Destination]?
  • Encontrarse - To meet up, like to meet up with friends
  • Puedes pasarme el pan, por favor? - Could you please pass me the bread? (Poder and it's other verb forms are like can or could )
  • Gracias por desayuno - Thank you for breakfast (You can replace desayuno in the sentence for other terms to thank someone for whatever you want)
  • Que significa [Word]? - What does [Word] mean? 
  • Que hora es? - What time is it? 
  • Voy a [Destination] - I'm going to [Destination]
  • Como puedo obtener aqui? - How do I get here? (Use this when pointing at a map)
  • Grande / Pequeno - Big / Small
  • Aqui - Here (Say this if you want the bus/collectivo/taxi to stop right now) 
  • Donde esta aqui? - Where is here / this place? (Aqui literally just means here, where we are, so you could say 'Donde esta aqui?' to ask where you are at that moment if lost or ask someone to point it out on a map)
  • Por aqui - Around here (Say this if you're on a bus and want the next stop)
  • Cuanto cuesta? - How much is this?
  • De nada - No problem
  • Soy Ingles - I'm English
  • No hablo espanol - I don't speak Spanish
  • No comprendo - I don't understand
  • Despacio por favor - Slowly please (If you want the person to speak slowly)
  • Antes / Despues - Before / After
  • Ahora - Now
Well that's it for most of the key phrases. They definitely helped me, I hope they're of some use to homestayers. 


Que Significa ... ? Intensive Spanish Learning Classes

In the beginner's Spanish intensive learning class we had two classes: grammatica and cultura y conversacion. And the names are a dead giveaway for what they entail.

Grammatica was our grammar lesson, teaching us the rules of the language, how to form sentences, how to conjugate, how to ask questions, this was the more rigid and structured of the lessons which moved along at a reasonable pace. It's a good lesson for those who prefer more traditional learning methods and more spread out subjects.

Cultura y Conversacion was our culture and conversation class. It was more free form and we had quite a lot of information to go through, we could be doing group work creating and acting out dialogues, we could be researching a notable Chilean, we could be looking at key phrases relating to money or transportation. Cultura y conversacion was very much where the information we learned previously got put into practice when we had to use and recall a lot of it. This is a good lesson for those who like a more casual environment and picking parts of vocab that interest themselves personally.

Intensive Spanish learning is definitely difficult, at the beginning it feels like you're floundering. Like anything really though, the more effort you put in the more you get out. If you have trouble with some areas, read up more about it and actively practice it in writing and speech. Being in a Spanish country gives amazing momentum to Spanish learning.

In retrospect we actually learnt quite a bit as a class in a short amount of time. We couldn't become fluent in two weeks, I don't think anyone expected we could, but we could be understood and get our meaning across to native speakers, which was a great result. So in the end I believe the intensive learning trip was a success. I definitely felt like I learnt quite a bit in a short space.

Chao for now.

Bakan To The Future! The Walking Tours Of Valparaiso

Two of the highlights of the Chile scholarship trip were walking tours through Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a bright and vibrant city filled with contemporary street art. Everywhere you look the walls are decorated with colour and beautiful murals by skilled artists, and each of them have their own story, whether personal or political. It's also a rather hilly area where the unusual transport of choice are funiculars called ascensores, these are lifts that carry you up hillsides.

During the walk we visited the house of Pablo Neruda, an iconic poet and nobel prize winner of Chilean origin. His house was a bright and eclectic mix of everything from his past, each floor and room is like stepping into a different part of his personality. I thoroughly recommend visiting his house, not just for the history but also for the whimsical oddity of it.

The last part of the tour was rounded off with a boat trip around Valparaiso's bay. When the sun is setting it really brings the city to the life and it was an amazing sight, it must be even more amazing during new year's when the place is filled with boats and fireworks overhead.

So in summary definitely tag along for the walking tours of Valpo. The place is rich with culture and authenticity that's worth seeing.

The Completo Truth - Tips for Homestays In Chile

I've put together a few tips that I thought would be helpful for homestay students that are visiting Chile. I've separated them into General, Learning and Exploring. Have fun reading and have fun in Chile!


  • If you have any dietary requirements let every representative know. Let your university reps know before the trip, let your co-ordinators know before or when you reach Chile and let your homestay parents know. If they know then there's less chance you'll spend your trip feeling unwell.
  • Write down important contact information in one place. Things like emergency services numbers, representative address and details, names of co-ordinators and numbers. It's a good idea to pick up a journal and put them in there.
  • Write down important phrases. Like I said, a journal is really helpful place to put this info so you can have it on hand whenever.
  • Don't pet the stray dogs. They look cute but sometimes bite.
  • Pack warm clothing in winter. Chile can get seriously cold, remember to pack warm just in case. 
  • Always bring a friend. You're in a strange country, having a friend to back you up when visiting new areas or coming home in the dark is definitely a good idea.
  • Don't flash expensive items in the street. I didn't encounter any problems with crime but Chilean guides will repeatedly remind you not to flash your cameras and phones out in public. 
  • Make friends with the locals. The locals know the place and will give you great tips on where to visit and how to get there. 
  •  Make friends with everyone in your group. Your group will often have your back and be with you 99% of the time, so get to know everyone.
  • Create a group chat on an instant messaging service. Creating a group chat will help to organise trips and help you to get to know everyone.
  • Speak as much as you can in Spanish.
  • Bring more money than you think you need. That is if you are able to, extra cash helps in case of emergencies and additional unexpected trips. 
  • Don't keep all your money in the same place. This goes for when you're carrying it outside and in your luggage. It's a good idea to have a little extra money in different pockets, in your wallet, in your bag just in case.
  • Try the national dishes. There are a lot of interesting and delicious dishes in Chile, don't be afraid to try them. 
  • Always say yes to your homestay parents' invitations. You'll get the most authentic experiences of Chilean life with your homestay parents, so go shopping or to the parties that they invite you to.
  • Be nice to your homestay parents. These people are allowing you to stay in their home and giving you a lot of trust, be kind to them and they'll be kind to you. 


  • Revise first. Being students we want to explore the city everyday, but if you're on an intensive language learning course remember to put aside time when you get back from university to study before going out. 
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will make a lot of mistakes at the start and speak like a caveman, like 'Me now go university with friends'. Nobody I spoke to cared that I spoke in broken Spanish, just speak and you'll learn quicker.
  • Use your homestay parents as teachers. The best way to learn is to talk to native speakers and the friendliest locals you'll meet will be your homestay parents. Talk to them a lot and ask them questions to learn faster.
  • Learn key phrases. It helps to learn key phrases or have them written down somewhere for when you need them most.
  • Learn key verbs. Even if you don't know the conjugations yet most speakers will understand what you mean when you string together a sentence with a verb. 


  • Learn the names of local landmarks and where they are in relation to other places. Nearby where we stayed was a flower clock known locally as 'reloj de flores', it was really easy to ask if buses passed by it on the way back to the homestay.
  • Learn the general bus routes. You can usually tell where a bus is going by the final destination on the board at the front and which road it's on.
  • Find out where to catch your nearest collectivo. Collectivos are a really helpful way to get around when you're in a rush but don't want to call a taxi, find out where they stop. 
  • Always ask how much a taxi or collectivo trip will be before you start your journey, don't assume. Fares aren't always the same and change depending on time of day as well. 
  • Ask your co-ordinators for trip ideas. The co-ordinators of your host university will most likely be locals and know all the best places, they may even take you there too.
  • To get from somewhere like Vina del Mar to Santiago you will need to go to a bus terminal. Buy your ticket at the desk and then board your coach to the destination. If you're going from Vina to Santiago you're looking at around two hours to get there. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

I Guess Alpaca My Bags

Being a student I am of course late with my goodbye Chile blog - I'm writing this on the second day of being back. But I felt I had to say what an amazing experience it was getting to see Chile, from Vina del Mar, Valparaiso, Santiago, Lampo, Concon and other places. It truly is a beautiful country with amazing people and experiences that you will have that will last a life time.

I'd like to say thank you to my homestay mum and her family, the staff co-ordinators for Universities on both sides, the teachers and the group that I experienced this all with. Everyone was awesome and I hope one day to meet everyone again.

Chao Chile!

An Ande Guide to Cultural Differences Between The UK And Chile

Having spent a short time in Chile there were a few cultural things that notably stood out to me as I travelled around the country. I put together this post as a short overview of the things that were really quite different to what I was used to in my home country or different to what I expected.

Bread Is A Big Deal

Part of the staple of a Chilean diet is lots of bread, and other carbs, but mostly from what I've seen bread is a much bigger deal in Chile than in the UK. Often bread will be available for most meals. Many of the national dishes are also wheat based, such as Empanadas (similar to Cornish pasties), Sopaipillas (similar to Carribean bakes) and the Completo (a hotdog with lots of guacamole and mayonnaise.) The Pastalerias (pastry shops) and Panaderias (bakeries) even stay open much, much later than their British counterparts, highlighting how much of a keystone these shops are in the Chilean culture.

This, of course, makes it a little difficult for people who have problems with gluten. I recommend anyone with these issues speak to their representatives, co-ordinators and homestay parents to make sure their dietary needs are met.

Odd Fusion Foods Are A Thing 

One of the odd things I kept seeing everywhere in Vina and Valpo were strange fusion restaurants, the most common being sushi and pizza shops. By the sheer abundance of pizza places and sushi shops everywhere I don't think I'm mistaken in saying they love these foods, but only Chile is brave enough to combine these two rather different foods. The strangest fusion place I saw was a sushi and waffles place, I can't say whether it was any good because I never tried it, and I'm still wondering if the menu just so happens to have 'sushi ... and waffles' separately or dishes are combined into strange mixes of 'sushi and waffles' combinations. Even if it's the latter it's still a bit of an odd thing to see and I don't think I'd ever see it in the UK.


The first time you step onto a Micro ("me-cro" - a small local bus) you will be in for a surprise. I hope at this point you have your change out as likely you will be standing at the bottom of the steps fumbling around for change while the driver has already started driving off at a furious pace while the doors are still open. The micros seem to be a law unto themselves frequently speeding off with no thoughts of health an safety and rules of the road. On the plus side if you're based in Vina or Valpo central you will get to where you're going incredibly fast, and the micros are a very cheap option to travel around (At the time of writing about 400 to 500 pesos (40 to 50p) ).

Another interesting transportation  to get around the city are Collectivos (A Collectivo is basically a shared taxi that follows a route) these are often very quick to get where you're going to as they don't roam as far as the micros. Be aware though that the collectivo will stop to fill all its seats along a route so it's likely you could be crammed in the back seat with two strangers either side of you. It's a quick way to travel but slightly more expensive than micros at 500 pesos+ (50p and up), and, if I remember right, Collectivos will often charge you more to go slightly out of the way of their route and at later times prices do rise. so always ask before setting off how much it will cost to get to your destination.

Water With And Without Gas

Often you'll see in supermarkets or be offered in restaurants 'agua con gas', this is carbonated water. Not a big deal, but what makes the difference is how it is far more popular here than in the UK. I think wherever I went there was always an option of with or without gas, whereas in the UK when we ask for water we expect 100% of the time that it will be uncarbonated. If you're in Chile and not a fan of carbonated water then ask for 'agua sin gas' which is water without gas.


You will often see lots of stray dogs roaming the streets (a lot of them wearing fashionable doggy jackets) and just chilling on the grass sunbathing, sometimes they will even follow you around. It goes against natural instinct but it is really not a good idea to feed or pet these animals as you you don't know if they will respond badly and bite you.

Western Culture 

Wandering around the Vina area I couldn't help but notice the vast amount of American fast food restaurant chains, sushi places, Mexican restaurants, Chinese places; the DJ Wilkinson playing in the supermarket; the people playing Elton John and Robbie Williams on the radio; the people telling me they love rock music, Madonna and French artists. Western culture is very much part of the city. This isn't a bad thing, I actually think it's really cool that Chileans are interested in international cultures and listening to a lot of foreign music. It's something we can all relate to.

The People

Maybe it's just where I was based in Chile and where I come from in the UK, but I found Chileans are far more friendly to foreign strangers. I often had people come up and take an active interest in where I was from, help me out with language learning and even take the time to give me directions - one guy even showed me where to get coffee and bought me a coffee because I couldn't find my change. I can't say enough good things about the Chilean people, they are warm and friendly people to meet.

Well that's it for the post on major differences. Thanks for reading and chao!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

What Winter Clothes And Gear To Pack When It's Chilly in Chile

What really hit most of us (my student group from the UK) is just how cold it was when we got to Chile (specifically Valparaiso and Vina del Mar) in winter. Unless you like to be cold you should be prepared by packing jumpers, hoodies and fleeces. Here's a full list of what I packed for two weeks:


  • Waterproof Jacket ( <-- You need it, rain can get torrential.)
  • Jumpers x 2
  • Hoodies x 2
  • Fleece 
  • Jeans x 4 (+1 I traveled in)
  • T-Shirts x 8
  • Oxford Shirt
  • Nightwear - T-Shirts and Sweatpants
  • Socks - Lots
  • Underwear - Lots


  • Trainers
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes
  • Flip Flops


  • Toiletries
  • Alarm Clock
  • Plastic Bags
  • Resealable Bags
  • Pen and Writing Pads
  • Plug Adapter - 3 pin (UK) to 2 pin (European - Type C)


  • Books
  • Ipad
  • Handheld Console
  • Phone

If you don't pack everything, no worries, Vina has plenty of places you can pick up little essentials from. Stay warm, chao!