Julia joins the Green Team!
Julia’s first week in Chile
So a little about myself..
Hi! My name is Julia from Cambridge, England and I have just started my 5-month internship at La Bicicleta Verde. I am studying Spanish and German at Queen Mary University in London, and have just spent 6 months studying at the university in Munich. It’s now hard to believe I am on the other side of the world in Santiago. I absolutely love to travel, but never normally on my own so this is a completely new experience, so I am so grateful I have the opportunity to be in Santiago for 5 months, while all my other friends are stuck in the lecture hall! Will they be jealous… oh yes they will be 100%!
A few disasters at the beginning:
After landing in Santiago, after the long direct flight from London, the hustle and bustle of the airport were unbelievable and nothing like I had experienced before. Coming from a small tranquil city, it was so strange to see that all the suitcases had been taken off of the carousel, meaning it was a struggle to even find them! My parents traveled with me to Santiago, as they used me starting my internship with La Bicicleta Verde, as an excuse to come and explore different parts of Chile. Unfortunately, my father’s wine suitcase (his most important suitcase, of course) was left behind in London, so I already had to practice my Spanish but quickly realized that Castilian Spanish and Chilean Spanish are really quite different. Chilean Spanish is very fast and almost slurred, and the use of slang makes it very difficult to understand but with practice, I am hoping to improve!
The city itself
Santiago is a great city, I could tell that even in the Uber from the airport to my hotel – the skyscrapers mixed in with the old, typical houses that you expect, all surrounded by the beautiful Andes. The street art is also absolutely beautiful, so much better than the random graffiti all over London. However, a few disasters happened in the first few days – but you know what they say, everything happens in three so we should have known when the wine suitcase did not arrive! My mother’s handbag was stolen with everything she needed in it especially her insulin as a diabetic so again, I was plunged into using Spanish that they never taught you in school! Thankfully everything turned out ok and I was able to explore Santiago a little before starting my internship. Something you notice when walking through the city or the parks are the pololo’s or polola’s (my first Chilean word!) who are couples dating so you see a lot of passion and kissing on the grass right in the city!
Before the start of my internship, I moved into a flat right around the corner of La Bicicleta Verde office, which was the perfect location or so I thought… Yes, my flat is super close to the office to roll out of bed in the morning, but the noise at night is so loud and nothing like I am used to from living in sleepy Cambridge and Munich. Not only is it the loud music outside from parties (no matter what day) but also the car horns which I have discovered is the favorite tool of any Chilean behind the wheel. To top it all off, the noise of barking dogs can be heard throughout the night; Chile has an abundance of stray dogs or quiltros in Chilean, roaming the streets day and night. Don’t get me wrong, they are super cute during the day, but at night they become super noisy.
So, sleep deprived but ready to learn, I had my first day at la Bicicleta Verde, where I quickly learned that yes, you can walk around the city as a tourist and enjoy the sites, but you will never learn facts or quirky little things about the city. I learned so much by taking the full-day bike tour, exploring the bustling markets and the street art all in Bellavista in the morning and the stunning highlights of Santiago in the afternoon.
La Bicicleta Verde
Even from my very first day at La Bicicleta Verde, everyone has been so friendly and welcoming, and I love how multicultural the whole office is with people from all over the world – such as France, Germany, the USA, Venezuela and of course the native Chileans! I have learned the basics of three branches of companies we have in the office – obviously the bike tours or rentals with La Bicicleta Verde, Tours 4 Tips – the walking tours where you have to find your wally guide first and Chile Guru – a travel agency to explore the desert at San Pedro de Atacama or the mountains and lakes in Patagonia. Overall, the first week has been a little overwhelming, as there are so many names to remember (not my strong suit but I am really trying), and the process of rentals with routes, prices, and recommendations (maths is also not the strongest), and all the technology and software used but I know I will learn a lot over my 5 months here with the Green Team! But already I know I will love my time here in Santiago and at La Bicicleta Verde!