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in this post: I will describe why this blog is a thing that is happening

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Hello Blog Readers.

Welcome to an experiment. I will start this blog series off by saying that I have never blogged before in my life. I have barely been able to keep a journal going for more than a few weeks. I have always found it basically impossible to write in any sort of reflective manner without sounding a) overly introspective/neurotic, b) like I’m trying too hard to be funny, or c) really annoying. So bear with me on this one.

My name is Isaac, I am a 20-year-old Canadian university student on exchange for the year in Santiago, Chile. I spent my entire life up to this point living in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, where I went to elementary, middle and high school and spent the first two years of my university career. Moving to a new school, in a new city, in a new country, in a new continent is what many people would call a “huge life step,” so hopefully it will also provide me with interesting content to write about.

I’ve started this blog for a number of reasons. First off, I was asked by my school to write a few blogs for their website, as a part of an ongoing exchange student blog project. I thought it would be interesting to take that further, and create a page of my own where I could post content more regularly and in multiple forms. Secondly, coming from a large Jewish family, I am already dreading the prospect of having to separately explain how my year was to every individual member of my extended family (whom I love very much of course) upon returning to Canada. I hope that this blog will help to preemptively answer some of the questions I inevitably will receive when I get home in December. Lastly, I’m aiming for this blog to help describe and articulate the whirlwind of excitement, confusion, frustration, and elation that living in a new culture can put you through. Maybe it will help some of you down the road, maybe it will help me by forcing me to reflect on my experiences; who knows!

With that being said, I’ll keep this intro short and sweet! Hasta luego, and I hope to see you all at the next post!

The Chronicles of Isaac, Part II

Welcome to part two of three!

Hopefully you’ve gotten a chance to read part one already, if not click here. To recap, I am summarizing every month of my exchange in an attempt to a) give future Santiago BIB-ers some ideas of what life on exchange is like, and b) provide all my friends and family back home with a detailed description of the last year of my life. In part one, I covered the months of February to June. The second half of exchange was jam-packed with travel, so there’s a lot more to write about! Let’s pick up where I left off, on Canada Day 2017… Continue reading “The Chronicles of Isaac, Part II”

The Chronicles of Isaac, Part I

So…

I realized I haven’t done too much blogging about my actual life on exchange; things I’ve done, places I’ve travelled, the ups and downs of life in Santiago. Since my return date to Canada is approaching faster than ever, I figured what better way to end exchange than by reflecting on this last amazing year of my life! If you’re going to Chile on exchange, maybe this blog will give you some ideas of how to make the most of it. If you’re friends or family back home, this can serve as a primer for all of the questions you will inevitably ask me. With that being said, let’s go all the way back to February, where this adventure began… Continue reading “The Chronicles of Isaac, Part I”

Three Days in a Favela

I’m sitting on the balcony of our hostel as my travel companion Florian takes a nap. The view to my left is the famous Copacabana Beach, dotted with sunbathers. To my right, the statue of Christ the Redeemer looks over the south zone of Rio de Janeiro. The sound of someone cleaning dishes floats out of a neighbour’s window, and two dogs are barking at each other not too far away. It’s a hot day, 32 degrees Celsius at 2:00 in the afternoon, so the fan in our room is on full blast. If you were to look at our location on Google Maps, it might look as if we are staying in the wealthy Rio neighbourhood of Leme, known for its wide tree-lined streets and modern beachfront condominiums. However, we are not in a condo overlooking the ocean. We are staying on a hill just behind Leme in Favela Babilônia. It is one of the hundreds of makeshift neighbourhoods that are home to around 1 in 5 of Rio’s inhabitants, and it sheds a light on both the resourcefulness and hardships that can be found in Brazil’s most iconic city. Continue reading “Three Days in a Favela”

No Stone Unturned

What do fresh pomegranate juice, phone chargers, roses, fleece jackets, and sopaipillas all have in common? The answer: you can purchase all of those things a few blocks from where I live. Great, you’re thinking to yourself. Isaac lives near a BoosterJuice, BestBuy, florist, North Face outlet and sopaipilla restaurant. Nothing too striking about that. But none of these products are being sold in stores, or really any sort of formal location of exchange. They’re all sold on the same street, but you won’t find a place there where you can pay with credit card. And you most certainly will not receive a receipt after purchasing. This particular street block near my apartment is one of many here in Santiago, where confused gringos like myself ogle at the sheer variety of things you can buy on the street. Opportunistic vendors, selling anything from sushi rolls to laundry hampers, create ‘pop-up’ markets around areas with high foot traffic. Metro station exits, busy pedestrian streets and public squares are popular gathering spots. The vendors are loud, they’re quick, they’re possibly in a legal grey area (I’m really not too sure), but most importantly they’re a cheap and convenient source of odd things you forgot you needed. No Stone Unturned is the title of this blog, because when it comes to seeking out value opportunities in Santiago, there are no niches, crooks or crannies that go unused. Continue reading “No Stone Unturned”