2016 kicked me in the nards

I’m sorry.

I don’t even know where to begin. I mean, the time lapse is quite disheartening, isn’t it?

I feel like I’m playing the part of the guy who wanted a commitment, settled down ready to embark on that road of domestic bliss and then… BAM!!! Just kidding! I need to be free… can’t commit. Don’t make me. It’s not you, it’s me. Bla, bla, bla, etc.

I SAID I wanted a blog. I SAID I really, really liked writing. I pay for my own hosting … I mean, the commitment is there, right? Well, clearly not. Regardless, I’m back and instead of going on like a babbling idiot who will never, ever be able to accurately make up for lost time (not to mention all the loyal readers I lost with my absence – and trust me, there were many!) I think it’s best to just do some quick updates for everyone on all things relevant to being me, aforementioned Chilean Gringa. (Side note – I’m thinking I need to change the title. Do I feel it adequately represents me? Not anymore, but we’ll delve into that later on. I can only manage a few key at a time while dipping my toe in the blog pool again.)

Ok. So where was I last time we were together?

……
……
……

AHHHHHHH yes… August. Chileans and their weird sayings about getting through winter and then the slip n’ slide into summer once September comes around each year. That.

A mug only a mother could love.

Well, one of the most relevant things that happened to me in the last 2+ years is that I lost my beloved Obi. For those who are unfamiliar, Obi was my cherished English Bulldog. I got him shortly after moving to Chile and he was my very first pet, first partner in crime … the one who was with me when I was feeling on the verge of jumping from a ledge living in Chile, with me when I finally landed my first job here, when I got married, when I had a baby. He basically accompanied me through my transition from functional alcoholic singleton to adulting in the adult world. He was my world in so many ways and he taught me so much about sappy things like unconditional love, sacrifice and unselfishness. But Obi was really sick … he was epileptic, had to take medication that ultimately damaged his liver, and while dealing with ongoing seizures, my poor baby developed glaucoma in both eyes. Not only did he lose his sight, but glaucoma is PAINFUL and he would wince and cry from the pain. My little nugget was a mere six years old. Enter months of heartbreak.

Anyway, ultimately we did the only thing we could do for Obi. We let him go. The situation with him was out of control by the end and even though I felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest, we did the only thing we knew would help him lead a happier, better life. Even if said life wasn’t with us. Needless to say, that was a dark period in my life. Almost two years after my very last blog entry, I lost my Obi and I can sincerely say that it was the first time I ever lost any living, breathing thing/person/being that actually meant something to me. It was my first experience with true loss of a loved one. Yeah… those were dark times for me.

Shortly after that, and I mean literallly 9 days after losing my pet, I was laid off from Avon Chile. My boss called me into his office and this is how the conversation went the minute I sat down:

Boss: “Hello Andrea, how are you doing?” (he’d been on vacation and generally out of town for the past weeks leading up to this day, so I hadn’t seen him in a while).

Me: “I’m ok… actually, it’s been a rough few days. I lost my pet last week.” (I should share that he too has a beloved family pet that he brought with him from Argentina upon being transferred to Avon Chile. Meaning, he’s a self-proclaimed dog lover and considers his Lab part of the family.)

Boss: “Oh, that’s too bad. Listen Andrea, I have some bad news for you. We’re going to have to let you go. But you know what I think? It’s best if you say that this was YOUR decision. Yes, that’s best for all. Are you ready to go into the board room and address the other managers with your decision?”

Cue in my reaction:

Yeah, those were dark times for me again in 2016.

And so, again, almost two years to the day since my last blog entry about Chilean and their August sentiments, I found myself unemployed, mourning my dog and the loss of (what seemed to me) OH.SO.MUCH within a span of 9 days. WITHIN A SPAN OF NINE DAYS, PEOPLE!!!!!!!

Can I repeat that those were dark times for me?

See, what we have here kind reader, is a little glimpse of what’s been on tap between July 29 and August 8, 2016. I realize that I’ve left out a whole lot of something between August 2014 and July 2016, but that will just have to wait. Maybe we can just leave it at this: if you have a specific question about the going ons during the two years I didn’t blog, feel free to raise your hand. I’ll be fielding questions Lionel Richie-style: All night long.

Only kind of kidding.

But hey, I’m going to pat myself on the back for getting this out there. It took me a while to dip my toe back in the pool and maaaaaaaan…. mama feels GOOD. I’ll be back because there is SO MUCH MORE to say.

We’ve only just begun. Again.

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Finding a job in Chile – Take 2

mommy_watch_this_medI have mad respect for those moms that choose to stay home with their kids. I’m about six weeks into my unemployment and being at home with little human is a job that requires some tough skin. After about two hours with her inside I need to set her free or she turns into a Tasmanian devil that just rips through our apartment, leaving remnants of what used to be a cozy place to live. Where does all this energy come from, I ask you?

In any case, it’s not so bad. She’s mine and when I think back to the reasons why I actively chose to be in this unemployment scenario, even on the worst days I sit back and think “would I take it all back just to be working there again?” Then I immediately find myself in my “ooooom” place and realize that the best decisions have already been made.

BUT (of course there’s a but … hello – don’t you know me at all by now?)

There are women who choose to be stay-at-home moms (or as I like to say, moms who work inside the home) and there are moms who choose to be moms and work jobs outside the home. I’m one of those moms. See, my career has always been part of who I am and how I project myself. I worked to put myself through college, then did a post-grad degree in a totally different country (NO EASY FEAT) and in between all that, worked my ass off to do the best I could in each and every company I’ve ever had the privilege to belong to. My identity is very linked to who I work for, what I do and what I’ve accomplished in that part of my life. No, it’s no my entire identity, but it’s a good part of who I am and I like that. After all, how can I justify working so hard for something only to regard it as a necessary evil?

So you can understand why I’m about to go apeshit on the fact that I’ve been unemployed this long!

In my head (obviously) I consider the appropriate amount of time to be unemployed to be three weeks. After that you begin to get antsy and it really does a number on your self worth. Finding a job in Chile isn’t easy. This is something I mentioned a few years ago but wanted to write a blog entry about this because things have changed SO MUCH in the past few years! Don’t get too excited because the psychological tests are still a headhunter’s (or HR Manager’s) favorite tool, though I’ve noticed that in the past few years the weight these carry on determining if you’ll be a fit for a certain position has lessened. Kind of like when colleges stopped focusing so much on your grades and SAT scores for admission and started wondering what else you were about. See, they matter, but not as much as they once did.

There are a couple of standard go-to options for job searches here in Chile. The two main sites are Trabajando.cl and Laborum.cl. LinkedIn has also turned out to be a good resource for job postings though they tend to be jobs that require at least 2-3 years of work experience. Also, something I realize now that I didn’t know then is how prevalent headhunters have become for mid-to-senior positions. Most of my experience with these headhunters has come from their searches on LinkedIn and my profile popping up as an answer to all their human resources needs. Of course there is the traditional option of submitting resumes directly via each company’s website but to be honest, I’ve yet to hear about anyone landing a job – even an interview – via that apparently antiquated method so if you’re going to choose that route, do us a favor, don’t hold your breath.

Finally, the most effective way to land an interview here in Chile, or anywhere else for that matter, is the famous “pituto.” How can I describe a pituto, you ask? Listen, you want a job in social media? My good friend’s cousin is CEO at this company and all you need to do is email me your resume and I’ll pass it on to my friend. She’ll then send it on to her cousin, the CEO, who’ll send it on to the HR Manager and – viola!!! – an email summoning you for an interview will magically appear in your inbox before 9 am tomorrow morning. No problem!

Are you The One?
Are you The One?

Notice that I said that’s the most effective way to land an interview. Actually getting to the offer letter part is something you still have to do all by yourself. Interviewing is an art, really, and one you need to be prepared to do over and over and over, then over, again here in Chile. If you’re using a headhunter (and most well-known, and even lesser known, companies do use them) you need to charm him/her. They’re all business and, in my experience, range from the kind who know the client (your future company) and the position like the back of their hand to the waaaaaaaay other extreme –> kind of making it up along the way as the interview progresses. Whatever the case may be, the important thing to remember is that this mastermind who single-handedly picked you as a possible candidate is the very first person you need to charm. If you’re able to do that then you’re more likely to be pimped out to the client as “the one” they just “have to meet.” This is good. You want this to happen. The fact of the matter is that to the headhunter, you’re their meal ticket if all goes well. Unless you’re a total bonehead, chances are you can convince the headhunter that you can get the job done. After all, that´s their calling – selecting talent from a pool of equally talented people.

Otherwise known as "what won't get you a job in Chile!"
Otherwise known as “what won’t get you a job in Chile!”

One thing I’ll never get use to however is how slow the process can be. Even if you’ve interviewed and they’ve decided that you’re simply NOT the chosen one, it seems to be standard operating procedure to just not fill you in on that useful piece of information. You’re left thinking you totally nailed it and are pretty confident the next interview will occur within the week. But that week passes, then another one and another one. At this point you’ve pretty much given up all hope that you’ve been selected but decide to give it one more shot and email the headhunter just to see “how the process is going.” And still – NOTHING. Not even an awkwardly worded email apologizing for the delay in response due to a sick distant cousin that took a turn for the worst and prompted an unscheduled flight to the south of Chile. Just nothing. SO UNPROFESSIONAL and in fact, totally insulting! What the hell do they think I’m going to do?? Freak out about their lack of response on my own personal blog??? I mean … c’mon… I’m not that kind of working woman…. what?

Ah… but in all seriousness, looking for a job in Chile is not for the faint of heart. The Chilean market is fierce and it’s demanding. It’s better now, especially for expats. It used to be that if you weren’t an “ingeniero” this or that, your resume would be tossed aside. It also used to be that you absolutely 100% had to have work experience in the exact same way, shape and form as the position the potential company is looking to fill – no deviations, no excuses, stop asking! I think that with the globalization that Chile has experienced, the economic boom that’s been assisted by external investors and the sought-after companies that are looking to expand into LatAm and seeing Santiago as a fresh and viable option, Chile has had no choice but to open up to outsiders. I’m sorry Chilean workforce, but I refuse to believe you’re another Core Club.

Swinging RopeWhat’s the secret to landing a job in Chile? I don’t know. I’m gliding along the usual ropes in this wild jungle. I’m looking at the websites mentioned above, checking out what’s on tap on LinkedIn, networking and literally making myself available. I think I have a lot to offer (and so do my ex bosses, as all of them serve as professional references – how ya like them apples?) and I’m trying not to limit myself. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that you’ll win some and you’ll lose some. There are some things you’re definitely not qualified to do (hi, spleen doctor, anyone?) but in general, you just have to let go of the inhibitions and send resumes for positions you really believe you can do and do well. If the other side doesn’t think so, meh … let them keep looking for their miracle cure. Meanwhile you’ll be growing hair on your chest and becoming a total pro at this job market search in Chile. I totally feel it!

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Shake, shake, shake …

Poor Chile. What a bad rap it gets sometimes.
As a seismically active country, Chile has its fair share of tremors (“temblores” as they’re called here) and they occur almost every day in any given area. Granted, they’re not all major quakes, but regardless of how “big” they may be, the fact remains that there are tiny earthquakes each and every day here. It’s part of our everyday life and if you are thinking of visiting or living here, you need to KNOW this is an everyday occurrence.

Earthquakes registered by year along Chile's coastline.The latest earthquake was actually a “replica” or an aftershock and it occurred on April 2nd in Iquique, coming in at 7.6 on the Richter scale. The reason this aftershock was considered as such and not a full blown earthquake is because on April 1st the northern part of Chile was rocked by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake … i.e. anything less than that is obvi an aftershock (so it would seem).

Anywhere else in the world the 7.6 aftershock would have been labeled a full blown earthquake and a state of catastrophe would have been issued. Anywhere else in the world, half the city (or more) would be a crumbled mess and chaos would ensue for weeks, if not, months. Back in February 2010, I wrote about my experience living through an 8.8 earthquake here in Chile. The aftershocks of that earthquake were NUMEROUS and the strongest one, if I remember correctly, was somewhere between 6.5 and 7 on the Richter scale.

Like some people back home wonder, you’re probably also wondering: “How can you live there? It’s like you’re constantly stressed out wondering when the next big one is coming! No thanks!”
I’ll use five words to try and explain how this is possible …

It’s part of life here.

Allow me to further explain because those five words obvi don’t provide much solace to anyone wishing to visit – or worse – anyone who finds themselves having to move down here for whatever reason.
Recently an article was published about this same issue and the title is pretty clever considering Chilean’s reactions to so many earthquakes: “Why don’t Chileans run when there are earthquakes?” The article goes on to state many reasons and (if you read Spanish) I think it’s worth a read because it gives you a glimpse of what the culture is like in general in response to a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

In the almost five years I’ve lived in Chile, I’ve experienced more earthquakes than I ever did in the 29 years living in the San Francisco Bay Area (the largest and ONLY earthquake was in 1989) and they’ve ranged anywhere from 4-pointers to almost 9!! That’s a whole lotta shakin’ and through it all I’ve learned that my own reactions have begun to mirror the reactions of true Chileans who have lived here their entire lives.

Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!!
Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

When the earth starts shaking here, the first reaction is, simply, wait it out. True story. You sit and wait to see if it’s going to stay tolerable or if it’s going to get bigger. Most of the time it stays within a reasonable range and by adopting this “wait it out” policy, you spare yourself the embarrassment of doing the weird things people do when they freak out. I think this, combined with the fact that Chileans grow up with earthquakes and earthquake drills in school, makes it seem like Chileans are unfazed by earthquakes. That’s not the case. I know that earthquakes are scary and most Chileans will tell you that they don’t like them, but they’ve learned to live with them mainly because they’re part of everyday life here.

Also, if you have to live with earthquakes, there really is no better place than Chile, architecturally speaking. Chile has some of the strictest building guidelines EVER! Need proof? The 2010 earthquake that struck Léogâne, Haiti caused over 100,000 deaths and annihilated a great part of the affected area’s infrastructure. That earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale. In comparison, the structural damage caused by the most recent earthquake in Chile (remember, it measured 8.2) a few days ago is minimal in comparison.

That doesn’t mean that Chile hasn’t learned lessons along the way. As mentioned, in 2010 over 500 people died mainly because the President of Chile, Michele Bachelet, and her advisors, didn’t give evacuation orders in a timely manner (most people died in the tsunami that hit post earthquake.) I guess you can say that this time around the dear President (the same one!) and her peeps were overly cautious and as a result, gave evacuation orders almost immediately! Hence, despite Chile’s most recent natural disaster and the destruction it caused, the death toll remains at six.

Don't let them know you're faking it!
Don’t let them know you’re faking it!

So come on down to Chile. Frolic, run and be free. Have a grand time because when the ground shakes (and it wiiiiilllllll) just know that you’ll most likely be ok. Just do as the locals do and you’ll be fine. You know – blend.

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Old School

It’s been almost a year and a half since my last blog entry. Where has the time gone? What have I been doing? What have YOU been doing (whatever – you probably aren’t even around anymore! Sheesh!) I can’t really tell you what’s been happening in the last 12+ months over here at the bottom of the Earth, but let’s recap what we already know: I’m an expat living in Chile since July 2009 (holy crap, that’s FIVE WHOLE YEARS this year!), I got married, I went to grad school, I finished then finally started working here, got a bulldog, moved and then had a baby (which we all know wasn’t all peaches and cream for me but now it’s fine.)

Our favorite candy striped wanderer.
Our favorite candy striped wanderer.

A whole lot has happened in between all this, most of which I’ve already written about in previous blog entries but there is a WORLD of ideas, thoughts, opinions, what have you, to share post-baby in a strange land. Although, granted, Chile isn´t so strange anymore but that doesn´t mean that being a parent and having a kid isn’t strange. But that’s a huge can of worms and if I try to interpret every little possible idea I have in my mind about what’s been going on this whole time, I’m going to go batty and most likely lose you somewhere along the lines.

And so, the idea is to fuh-kis (focus) and I’m going to start this new chapter off by telling you that apparently, somewhere along the lines from back then to now, I turned into an adult and got, how do you say?…old. Don’t flatter me with your “But Andrea, you look so young!” nonsense. I’m not talking wrinkles, sun damage and genetics here, kiddo, I’m talking about my inability to navigate the new technology and having NO IDEA who Lorde was until about a week ago (btw – OBsessed)!!! How.did.this.happen? When did I become this person who only has retro songs in her iTunes collection and who owns all classic 80s movies and hasn’t seen a single Oscar nominated movie since circa 2008???

The first time I realized I was getting old was about eight months ago when we purchased really basic tablets for use at work. I couldn’t turn the darn thing ON! There was no middle button like on the iPhone and swiping my finger across the screen proved useless. At the time we had a junior in high school helping us with some adminy work and after several frustrated attempts on our part (my ex-coworkers don’t escape the “I’m-old-and-technology-frightens-me” label), we handed the tablets over to this 17-year old who had them up and running in a nanosecond. I mean…clearly she’s in MENSA, amiright?

Then, one night as I was talking to my 18-year old nephew and his friend, we started talking about Spotify (YES I know about Spotify!) and they were telling me about how cool it was and how the playlists were all saved and you can access them anywhere, etc, etc, what have you and I thought “holy sh*t, they really think Spotify is awesome… why haven’t I tried it?” The thing is, it had never OCCURRED to me to try it… they asked if I still purchased and downloaded music, as if that was “so 2010.” Um, apparently it is. Sweet. Now even HOW I listen to music is old school. They didn’t understand why I would spend money on each song I wanted when I could just add it to my playlist on Spotify. The whole idea of collecting the music seemed odd to them and since, in my opinion, that generation is based on “what’s next, what’s new” I wasn’t about to give them a crash course on how collecting and sitting in your piles of “collected stuff”, albeit virtual, gave one a sense of satisfaction.

So there’s all that and you already know about my whole Lorde debacle because I mentioned it above and, I mean, it’s literally one thing after another with this whole age vs. new technology/new releases thing. I guess I could have blamed the Lorde thing on living in Chile but she just performed at Lollapalooza this past weekend sooooooo …. I’m thinking it’s me, not Chile. Also, I’ve been meaning to blog for about two weeks now but it took me this long to configure my new blog layout and as you can see, it’s quite basic. I did that on purpose because the bells and whistles were getting me nowhere. See that Twitter feed to your left? Literally took me two days to figure out. For reals.

Finally, the last thing that serves as proof that I’m suddenly old just happened. How the hell does one insert an animated GIF into a blog post? Do people still use those for effect? No?
Whatever. I’m over you and your techy ways.

Just kidding, I love you.

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Time warp

Ever since I moved to Chile in July 2009, I’ve entered a time warp. I kind of feel a little like Han Solo when he was frozen in carbon. Or for the younger generation of readers, like Austin Powers when he was cryogenically frozen for 30 years.

Our dearest Han, hung on a wall after being frozen. Via Star Wars Wiki

The point being that once I left San Francisco, it seems I just placed a bookmark where I left off so as to return at some point in the future and catch up on what’s been going on since I left. For instance, since I left the U.S., several things have occurred that I simply have no idea about, almost as if they came out of nowhere. Examples:

– Nicki Minaj – who is this and what does she do? Why do we care? Can someone give me a 90s or early 2000s equivalent, please? Also, please shed some light on why she looks that way.

– Tim Tebow – Ok, I get that he’s a football player and that this concept of “tebowing” was apparently brought to light because of him but…. no, wait, I beg to differ. Haven’t football players been getting down on one knee to thank God for that touchdown for like, EVER?? Again, what the hell? Why is he a big deal?

– Wikileaks – is it just me or is it eerily similar to Deep Throat and those involved in ultimately bringing down the Nixon administration? Whistle blowers or am I wrong?

– Leslie Nielsen DIED??!!!!!! Surely you can’t be serious. I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

– Glee – what is it and why was it so popular? Is it still popular? Is it like High School Musical, which is like Kids Incorporated which is like FAME?

Via childrenofthenineties.blogspot.com

And don’t even get me started on social media!! Facebook Timeline, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest – seriously I feel like my mom. All she wants in life is for someone to bring back her classic Motorola flip phone. What’s even more bothersome is that via osmosis I used to at least get some of the things that now completely blow my mind. How did this happen?? Did I spend too much time trying to figure out what’s going on in Chile that I lost sight of other details? Or is it that I simply stopped being around and associating with people who used to shed some light on all these mysterious things?

You know how we sit back and wonder at times when our dear old grandparents just stopped getting it? Well, apparently it happens at 35-ish!!!!

This brings me to the main topic at hand – this handy little site I stumbled upon just recently called Timehop. Now perhaps this is something all of you knew about since June of 2010 or something, but given all I’ve just laid out for you, it’s a big deal that I even know about this site AND FURTHER, found out about it on my own, so cut me some slack!

For the 2-odd people out there who may not know what it is, let me explain (bursting with pride and smugness, mind you, at the fact that I am explaining to YOU something I knew first! A-ha!!) – Timehop is a service that you subscribe to which taps into any social media account you may have and goes back one year in time to see what your status updates were on that particular site. Depending on how many social media outlets you register, Timehop taps them, compiles the info and sends you a daily email with the information. Hence, your own personal time capsule. I’m thinking it’s something that Facebook is trying to do with said Timeline but via Timehop, the info just appears in your inbox so you don’t have to do ANY searching or investigating. Viola! A time capsule for the lazy and unmotivated.

Let’s take a looksie, shall we?

The first Timehop email I got after subscribing was on April 11th of this year, which means that the email contained tweets and FB status updates from April 11, 2011. I didn’t recall at the time, but apparently a year ago I was flying out to NYC for work. Below, some snippets:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Apparently on April 11th I was catching the flight out to NYC and was, not to mention, a little bitter about the fact that I wasn’t traveling in Business.

The following day, April 12th, I received my info from a year earlier:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Obvi that a year ago on April 12th I was sublimely happy because 1) I was in NYC in 2) my fave – rainy weather, about to 3) hang out with good friends, in the meantime 4) going to the best place on Earth – TARGET then 5) eating and drinking to my little heart’s content, finally followed by sweet dreams in a 6) posh NYC hotel . I mean, if I didn’t just describe YOUR perfect day too then something’s wrong with you.

Of course, not all emails bring me back to a clear and precise moment in time. For example, the email from this morning with information from exactly a year ago:

Via my Gmail Inbox

Someone had their panties in a bunch…

Anyway, since coming across this site I should really get on updating my Twitter and Facebook feeds more often. Being that I’m DAYS from giving birth, you’d think I’d want to chronicle this experience a bit more (aside from SOME blog posts you may have taken a gander at, I’ve done NO chronicling.) My point being is that I really, really like this little site I stumbled across earlier this month. Like, a lot. On the one hand I’m patting myself on the back for finding SOMETHING on my own that seems cool (even if this has come and gone and I’m way behind the trend. So be it!) On the other hand, I find it very cool that there is now a service that will facilitate reminders of a moment in time from my past. And the best thing of all is that I don’t have to do anything that I don’t ALREADY do (i.e. update Twitter and FB whenever I deem necessary).

And for those of you out there that are tech wizards, ahead-of-the-curve hipsters, trend-setters and just basically IN THE KNOW, please consider providing a public service (to me) and filling me in on things that will steer me more towards “cool mom” as opposed to antiquated grandma (which is the direction I’m apparently heading towards at the age of 35! Ack!) After all, think about how sad it is that I just discovered Adele in November of 2011 … not only that, specifically “Rolling in the Deep.”

I mean… c’mon!!! Toss me a frickin’ bone here. I’m at the mercy of your wealth of knowledge and only this will differentiate me from lifelong “cool mom” or lifelong “lame mom.” What’s it gonna be?

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The Gringa Exodus

I guess it comes with the territory when you live as an expat. The likelihood that some people you meet, get to know, like and eventually become friends with, are bound to call it a day in Chile.

One of the first stories one shares when meeting other expats in Chile pertains to how much time one has left in this country. You talk about what brought you here, what you’re doing right now and the approximate time left before you leave again. Sometimes X,Y,Z needs to happen (i.e. we’re waiting for the green card -or- we’re waiting for his graduate school acceptance letter) and sometimes it’s about sticking around while the getting’s good here (i.e. you’ve built a pretty solid life for yourself in Chile – maybe one that is even better than that of friends back home – so why quit now?)

This reality is always a bit of a downer because already there’s a clock ticking to the amount of time you have to spend with this new, awesome person you’ve met and, let’s face it, as we get older, the ability to bond and make friends becomes harder and harder. You desperately NEED quality, physical time together to allow the friendship to take off. You need outings, experiences, laughter and time together, just as you do with a romantic relationship. Personally as an expat, I found it to be quite fortunate that I had this common denominator with female expats – a group that “got” it and a group that would feel my pain on the idiosyncrasies of living in Latin America. Except that somewhere along the line I began to notice that one by one, the women I had met and started to become friends with, were slowly leaving Chile. Suddenly the reality of expat living began to sink in … how feasible is it to build a life here when such an important aspect, such is a social life and the friendships that ensue, is also quite temporary?

In about three weeks, I’ll be celebrating my two-year anniversary of moving to Chile. And in that time, five of the Gringa friends I made here, have left. That’s one friend that leaves every 4.8 months – this is my average thus far. How am I supposed to building long-lasting, stand-the-test-of-time friendships 4.8 months at a time??!! As it is, I’ve never been known as Miss-Social-Butterfly and personally, it’s really difficult for me to make friends. I’m not, by any means, crying you a river here, people. Not.at.all because, hey, that’s not me. But I’m as pragmatic as they come and I know what I know. And what I know about me is this: since starting my new job, I’ve had a hell of a time finding the balance between home life, work life, personal time and social time. It’s like I forgot how to make all those things work and let’s face it, I know it was easier back home because I held on to the same friends year after year. There was none of this new initiation process of friendships that, quite honestly, need time and commitment. Of course, all friendships deserve that, new and old!

Also, I realize that after living here almost two years, I have not gone through the Gringa exodus as others may have gone through it. I may have very little rights to complain about this expat reality when compared to those who have lived here 5, 10, 20+ years. I can’t even imagine the kind of friendships that have come and gone in their lives. Part of my problem (and yes, I DO recognize it) is that after seeing five amazing females leave before I ever really got a chance to throw down roots with them, I’m jaded about Gringa expat friendships now! It’s so unfair because I realize I’m not doing a good job about balancing my social life with work life, yet I find that I keep arm’s distance to everyone because, hey, they’re leaving at some point anyway!

I sound like a little kid, stomping my feet and shouting “I want my friends, I want my friends!”

Maybe the root of my internal issue is this: I see that everyone else has the option to leave, if that’s what they so choose and, in the end, we don’t share that same reality. In marrying a wonderful man who also happens to have an amazing job and equally amazing kids, I decided, forever, that my future didn’t hold the possibility of returning home. No wonder Chile seems to be a life sentence as opposed to a fabulous, wild adventure I’m living with my new husband. And I guess I wish I could also meet Gringas who are planning to base their life here as well. It would help me accept that life here can carry on quite normally and, dare I ever find out, quite exceptionally.

So in the end, the Gringa Exodus means this (to me):
1.) Friendships and people I’ve met thus far, aren’t long-term. At least not long-term while living in the same hemisphere (yes long term because they marked a period in my life and will never be forgotten -heyyyy!).

2.) This has directly caused me to hesitate in venturing out and (attempt to) build friendships or even acquaintances.

3.) Number 2 combined with the fact that I am learning to find balance between the new job and a normal life here has led to quite the stagnant social life since late 2010.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make here? Nothing, really. Just that it’s quite daunting to sit and think about the fact that I’ve met some cool people here … but a lot of them have already left Chile. I wonder, if we hadn’t been “thrown” together in this narrow land, would we have had a silver lining threading us all together? I do believe that in some cases yes, and in some cases no. But that’s what makes it all the sadder to realize they’ve left and have moved on to the next phase of their lives and that the phase of their lives that intertwined with mine is now over. It’s like I’m on this same path and different paths have weaved in and out of mine.

I see them in the horizon and remember them fondly (as well as the great times we once had here), but the eventual Gringa Exodus makes me sad, regardless of any pragmatic approach I take.

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The loaded question

As I was leafing through today’s El Mercurio, I came across an editorial piece entitled “¿Donde estudiaste?” or “Where did you study?” After reading the one-page article, I actually felt PLEASED (of all things!) because the author reflected what I have thought all along about this ridiculous question:

  1. Discriminatory by defacto, this question seems to have little-to-no socially relevant objective.
  2. Those who pose the question want nothing more than to tell YOU where THEY went to school because in their mind, something about the school is better than yours
  3. There is no Eton-equivalent in Chile (sorry, Grange and Nido) so there is no justification for such a mundane question
  4. In the end, most, if not all of us, are pretty much run-of-the-mill and no amount of English words in your school’s name will change that

But I guess what I should do is take a step back to clarify that here in Chile, perhaps in Latin America as a whole even, the question “where did you study” does not automatically mean “From which university did you graduate?” or “Where did you attend college?” Rather, this question literally means “Where did you go from Kindergarten to 12th grade?”

The author of this article goes as far as to claim that said question is usually third or fourth in a conversation between adults who are meeting for the first time, usually following suit shortly after “What’s your name,” “What do you do,” “Are you married/have kids?”

When I moved to Chile, this issue came up in various conversations with different groups of people. At first I found it hard to believe that anyone would care where one went to school 20, 30, even 40 years ago especially in light of the fact that most real-world experience is obtained later in life, in college and post-college. Perhaps this is why I find it more relevant to be asked where I attended college and what it is I studied there. My personal experience here in Chile has been that people don’t ask me this question once they find out that I didn’t grow up here. But it has been the case that I’m asked where my husband went to school. (After the snide “What do you care” crosses my mind) I answer that he grew up in the northern part of Chile and didn’t move to Santiago until he was 11 and then, he attended a Catholic school in Macul (a middle/working class district of Santiago). The answer is met with “Oh” and followed by “I went to Santiago College” or “I went to Nido.” At which point I make it a point not to ooooh and ahhh over said statement.

When considering where G and I would send our future kids to school here in Santiago, we discussed three fundamental factors for selection: 1) the school needs to be fully – and I do mean 100% fully – bilingual (English and Spanish), 2) the school must not be psycho heavy on religion (Catholic schools are OUT OF THE QUESTION in a dominantly Catholic society), 3) the school must have a curriculum that promotes individuality, adventure, exploration, teamwork and curiosity (in other words, I want innovative, forward thinking education. Not something that’s stuck in the dark ages.) Given the above criteria – things that are FUNDAMENTAL to us – are the chances high that our kids will go to the Granges, Nidos and Santiago Colleges of this world? Maybe. Unless I found another school that will prove to support our criteria for our kids’ education, it may very well be the usual suspects as contenders. Regardless, I’m not bound to any brand name school in Santiago, I’m bound to the three points above. Unfortunately (or fortunately) every adult I’ve met who attended one of the brand name schools of Santiago speaks pretty fluent English. Even the kids I’ve met who currently attend these schools are already on the road to said fluency. The fact of the matter is that in my case, English is my first language and as such, it remains a priority for me to make sure it’s always spoken to a good extent in my home. Sadly, the options are limited in Santiago.

This brings me back to the author’s last point of the article where he states that the answer to the infamous question does not grace the person answering with some kind of admirable quality or attribute. After all, they didn’t decide where to go to school – their parents decided that FOR them. If the person did happen to attend one of the brand name schools, does that mean that the parents are worthy of all the merit? I think it depends. If they carefully looked through all possible schools that combined their fundamental educational goals for their children, and then opted for what turned-out-to-be a brand name school, then yes. If said decision was based more on status and keeping up with the Joneses, allowing the family to use the child’s school as another indicator of the family’s wealth (such as the car and the house), then no.

Taking that into consideration, when someone in Chile asks you where you went to school, what if they’re really asking “how much money did your family have while you were growing up?” Which actually equates to asking for the family’s financial statement prior to engaging someone in conversation, interviewing them for a position or, generally speaking, deciding their worth as a human being.

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The Brady Bunch only exists without exes

I don’t consider myself to be a stepmom in any sort of way, even though I guess that yeah, the fact of the matter IS that I’m technically a stepmom, given that my husband has children from his previous marriage. But the whole idea behind the term “stepmom” is so cliché, I get nauseous at the mere thought of it. Just thinking of the typical image of the woman who has no children of her own, all of a sudden trying to be a mom, just makes me think of Baroness Schraeder playing ball with the Von Trapp kids (yes, one more of the million references to the movie “The Sound of Music” – so sue me.)

I won’t get into detailed specifics of the dynamics between my husband and his ex, nor will I get into exact specifics of my role either. Suffice it to say that the mother of my husband’s kids (also known as “b*tch face” in my small circle of me, myself and I) is equatable to a fascist dictator (according to me) and even if she isn’t physically with us on the weekends the kids do spend time in our home, trust me, she’s nevertheless omnipresent.

In the beginning of this journey, I was rather accepting of the separation and distinction made between their mom, their dad, them and me. G lived a separate life, according to me back then, when they were around. While he made plans with them with hope of including me, I always politely declined, hiding behind the excuse “no, no, this is YOUR time with them.” Literally there would be weekends when we’d barely see each other and barely had conversations. A combination of demanding kids and impatient Wife #2 didn’t make for easily accessible family time for G. Back then, the ex was more of a b*tch face than I can honesty say she is now – mostly due to the fact that she apparently has a significant other to now love/torture and has withdrawn from loving/torturing my husband – so it was much easier to draw a clear line between “that’s you guys” and this is me. In correlated events, as the fascist mother of the kids has (presumably) been diverted by the sweet smell of love with someone else, she’s become less of a presence in our home with the kids here and less of a bother and anchor around the neck when the kids aren’t here.

As time marched on, as love blossomed for b.f., and as I spent more time with the kids, I got past seeing them as the “offspring” of a “mad love affair” between my husband and his ex. (The reality is that the term “mad” applies but not “love” nor does “affair”) and began seeing them as just them. Two kids with their own personalities. I remove the thought of their mom from our time spent together because it angers me to see how she holds the noose above their heads and how she must be so invasive, that the kids think twice about any move they make with me. It’s a little more seamless now but nonetheless apparent and it’s just sickening to think that a mother is that controlling. And to circle back to my first thought, this is the main reason I don’t feel like I’m a stepmom. The iron hand of the law has far reaches into the minds of its subjects and as such, there is no room for a third party to: 1) educate or offer insight 2) offer alternate thinking 3) lead by example. There is only room for a third party to offer fun. When I choose and when circumstances allow for it, that’s all I’m really, truly a part of – something fun (whether that be introducing them to Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas, introducing them to Monopoly, playing Wii or watching – you guessed it – “The Sound of Music.”)

Unfortunately there are times, like today, when I’m reminded how in reality, there IS a clear line dividing us. Sadly, when that division is apparent, I’m the cheese that stands alone. For some reason or another, the kids’ school doesn’t do their dieciocho celebrations in September when all the other schools do them. They do them in October. Specifically today. In traditional fashion, by class, kids dance typical Chilean dances in full costume for the parents of the entire student body. G, accompanied by his mother, took his kids and I’m of course, left behind. It’s an unspoken rule that shouts from the top of the Andes Mountains: I’m not to be involved or included in these types of things. It doesn’t help that the kids’ mom is actually a teacher at the school they attend but I’m pretty sure that even if she didn’t work there, I’d still have to stay behind the invisible line that divides “his family” from “our family.” I don’t think it will ever change. In fact, a close friend of mine who married into a similar situation finally stood her ground when the youngest of her husband’s sons graduated HIGH SCHOOL! From the time she met his son at the age of 6, she’d missed every single school event, every single performance, every important soccer game. Clearly forced to watch from behind the line. I give her props for standing her ground on his high school graduation. As she clearly stated “Si no le gusta que este, mala suerte.” (If she doesn’t like that I’m here, too bad.)

At what point does it really, truly become a blended family, I wonder? It’s obviously not when the stepmom decides and it could very well be difficult for the kids in between to decide. Does that only leave the option for the first marriage to decide? Can we discuss how unfair that sounds for the now-wife? Then I wonder if it’s about the ex-wife deciding because she happens to hold the reins. Or does the husband decide that it’s ok to include his wife, opting to literally show the ex that she can go straight to hell if she disagrees? I’m at a loss.

G argues that I wouldn’t want to go to their show anyway. True, I’d find it boring as most kid shows are to me. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be cute or, at the very least, entertaining to see their pint-sized selves dance typical Chilean dances. However it’s not an option for me either way. Which is the reason I’m sitting on this side of the dividing line, writing a blog, waiting for my dog’s trainer to arrive.

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When one movie sparked an existential crisis

Have any of you seen the movie “She’s Having a Baby?” It’s a random John Hughes movie that in typical JH style, speaks eloquent words of wisdom on coming of age. Except this coming of age movie is more about the coming of age into full-fledged, real adulthood, with marriage, mortgages, careers and babies, as opposed to his typical teenage passage à l’âge adulte films like “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The reviews I took a gander at speak of this film as being an “essay” by John Hughes and his most “serious” film ever.”

Yeah it’s serious but very typical John Hughes and as usual, there were certain parts of the movie that again spoke to me and reminded me just how relatable the main character’s sentiments are to my own. It’s a crossfire between emotion and finding (or maintaining) your true self. Last night as I was watching it, G sleeping next to me, two particular ideas from the following quote resonated with me:

“Why couldn’t I accept who I was, what I was and where I was? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else who rode the train? Were they mindless, anonymous drones, following the scent of money to a senseless, forgotten end or were they the bearers of some great secret that allowed them to rejoice in this life that I was so unwilling to embrace?”

It’s been quite difficult for me to adjust to living here in Chile and accept what my life now looks like compared to what it looked like when I was back home. What’s been most difficult has been the uncertainty about my future, especially my career. I have this familiar paranoia that continues to walk around with me in that I can’t decide if my inability to adjust is something about ME or if the circumstances I willingly chose to be a part of are making it difficult to progress.

Only two ideas from the lines above are ones that make me think:

1) are the women I know who have also made the leap to this strange land actually bearers of some kind of wisdom and secret that makes life here better and positive, a revelation I’ve yet to stumble across?

2) why am I so unwilling to embrace this life, what it looks like now and who I am as I live it?

What is it that I see in other women here that makes me think my reality is so grossly different from theirs? In fact, I’ve spoken to many of them who have told me that they too had a difficult time adjusting to living in Chile at first, and when they hear me complain or see me wanting to bang my head against the wall over the idiosyncrasy of the Chilean culture, I know I’m generally preaching to the choir. There’s nothing I’m currently going through, or have gone through in the last 14 months, that they have not also experienced and ultimately accepted or overcome. In fact, even this past Friday as we were all out celebrating a Gringa friend’s birthday, I was sitting there talking to the birthday girl and she said to me, “Do you ever look around and think ‘wait, what am I doing here? How and when did I end up living in Chile?'” Um, yes, that notions sounds vaguely familiar to me. But it got me thinking: she, like other gringa friends, have been here much longer than I have, yet for the most part, if not completely, they live happy lives here. But even so, just as my friend made me realize with her rhetorical question, they too must stop every once and a while and think, “how did I get here?”

The devil’s advocate in me (or the pessimistic, masochistic side of me – your choice) then remembers that most of the women I’m friends with here aren’t really, truly here for the long-term. Eventually, as their plans unfold, they’ll make their way back home, husbands in tow. They’ll carry with them the adventure they had of living in another country, surviving and excelling in said country (in this case, Chile of course) and all the bad memories and experiences of adapting will become examples, anecdotes or memories of how living abroad shaped their current and/or future plans and selves. I compare that to my reality and realize, I don’t have that luxury. I made the decision to leave everything I’ve ever known, everything that ever meant anything to me, every last memory and experience I was ever a part of, and start my life literally ALL OVER AGAIN, in a foreign country. And the thing is, there is no going back. At least, not in a way that I would willingly choose.

And in my head I wonder, over and over again, would Chile seem so difficult if I knew that at some point down the line, I’d be back home again, better than ever because I’d be with my husband, the person I adore most in this world? I don’t have the answer, nor can I pretend to know what it’s like for others…but from this perspective I think that would be an important secret to embracing life in a different country. I don’t know what it’s like for my friends here, what it’s been like or what other people experience here and I’m not saying that what I write here is the truth. Really, it’s just a thought.

As for point #2 above, I began to really, truly analyze: what makes my life so uncomfortable here that I am so far removed from accepting who I am and where I am now that I live here? I still can’t put a name on it but I can describe it as this: I feel like I’m redoing the period of my life post-college graduation, when I had no idea where I was going, what would become of me or why it seemed that my peers had their sh*t together and I didn’t. In short, I feel like I’m experiencing my quarter-life crisis all over again, meanwhile I’m actually heading into my mid-30s! Wikipedia lists a variety of characteristics of this social and cultural phenomenon we know as the quarter-life crisis and you can see them all here. However in my case, I can call out the following as relevant:

* confronting their own mortality [i.e. realizing that I’m not getting any younger and I have a list of accomplishments that seem to just be sitting there, not transforming themselves into reality.]
* insecurity regarding the fact that their actions are meaningless [This might have more to do with a certain quest I’m on that so far, has proved fruitless. Also, school.]
* insecurity regarding present accomplishments
* disappointment with one’s job
* nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life [except in my case it’s the life I left back in California]
* tendency to hold stronger opinions [fighting the power here really makes me quite obnoxious. And it’s not like I’m happy with being that way.]
* loss of closeness to high school and college friends [missing one of my good friend’s wedding this past weekend and not even KNOWING my best friend’s boyfriend = sucks.]
* financially-rooted stress [as I’ve gotten older, I have more financial responsibilities and I’m still not at the point of being able to save for, say, a home? Plus school and the final wedding payments have killed me in the last few months.]
* desire to have children [or the simple to desire to be at a place in my life where it’s a viable and intelligent option to start a family. Guess who’s not getting any younger?]
* a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than oneself
* frustration with social skills [it’s not that I’m awkward – I don’t think – but I do tend to have my weirdo moments in everyday Chilean encounters.]

I remember feeling many of these things and more, immediately after college. Then my career and life began to take shape and one by one, these sentiments became irrelevant. Of course, 10 points were replaced by ONE HUGE point, that being: “Waaaaaaaaaa! I want someone to love!! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I’ll never find THE ONE!” And the like. Now I have the latter fantastically filled but upon moving to Chile, all of the points above made their way back into my life (como Pedro por su casa) at a time when I had completely forgotten ever feeling that way at all! Of course I wouldn’t trade what I have in my personal life right now – the fulfillment I have with the person I’ve chosen to live my life with and the relationship we have together – for more time in California, not in a million years. I accept Round 2 of the quarter-life crisis because I figure, I survived it once before (and alone at that). After all, now, I should be better equipped to give all the points above a good kick in the b*lls anyway. At some point soon, I’ll have hurdled it all and I’ll look back, wave goodbye and say “thanks for playing.”

…Geez. Had I known that my seemingly innocent choice over which DVD to watch prior to falling asleep last night would spark such an existential crisis (and consequently, a ridiculously long blog post) I would have opted for “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” instead …

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Chilean companies & their employees – unproductive?

Sometimes the things that my classmates and teachers talk about surprise me and not at all in a negative way. Rather, I’m enlightened and many times struck by a ray of hope for the evolution of the average Chilean. Meaning my classmates and teachers seem to be, in my experience, not your everyday average Chileans and definitely not the Chileans that perhaps our parents once were (or still are.) Though there are many times when they talk about things I have no clue on (mainly knowledge one would have if he/she grew up here), there are other times when they talk about things I never expected, offering insight and opinions that shed some light on the changing profile of young executives in this country.

This was the case yesterday in class when we began deviating from the topic of the day. To offer a quick background, we were discussing how a company can be more than just a company but a brand in and of itself. The main requirement for this, in short, is to make sure that your internal client, i.e. employees, are happy. Happy employees will feel an affinity to the company’s brand. I was enjoying the discussion when all of a sudden the professor, a man between 45-50, professional and educated both here and in Spain, says to the class “Officially and on record, it’s been shown that Chile is the least productive country in regards to time management of employees and efficiency in the workplace.”

Scratch record, silence music, stop the presses.

Did my Chilean professor just say that in front of my Chilean peers and classmates?

Granted it’s something I’ve experienced, seen, heard about and witnessed in the past six years I’ve worked with Latin Americans but never in a million years did I expect to hear that from a Chilean in a room with other Chileans. Even more so, I never expected the majority of the Chilean classmates I have to actually AGREE with the statement.

What ensued was a series of examples and reasons as to WHY, from their perspective, Chileans weren’t productive. Words and phrases thrown out were (note that this was discussed in a general sense, in the “we” context, in the context of the work/labor force and delivered by Chileans. I.e. the foreigners, including myself, did not offer opinions):

  1. Chileans, as a general group, are lazy.
  2. Chileans lack motivation.
  3. Chileans lack good leadership.
  4. Chileans lack education.
  5. Even college graduates are unprofessional.
  6. Chileans are unreliable.
  7. There are fewer opportunities in Chile.

Other examples where offered but what I found to be more interesting were the anecdotes that followed each example of why Chileans were unproductive and inefficient in the workplace. For instance, one classmate shared with us that when it was time for her yearly review, her supervisor told her that she was “too anxious” because she consistently followed up with people on to-do’s and next steps. She stated that she had to be that way because following up once, twice and up to four times didn’t automatically make things happen. And for being proactive, she was labeled as “anxious” by her superior.

Another example (given by a classmate) is how Chileans will work until 7 or 8 p.m. when in comparison, Brazilians (in her example) will work until 6 pm. If she’s talking to a distributor for her company in Brazil and the line is disconnected, she stated that the Brazilians immediately call back. Whereas it was her experience that the same incident will happen with a Chilean and the Chilean will not only NOT return the call, but when she tries to call, the line rings and rings or it goes straight to voicemail. Upon locating the same Chilean distributor another day, the Chilean distributor will proclaim “Oh, I thought you were going to call ME back.” I did. “Oh yeah but it was 6:30 pm, I left of course.” In the middle of our pending phone conversation? Yes.

My contribution to the discussion did not involve bashing how Chileans work nor did it involve criticizing Chileans in any way. In fact, I offered this morsel of insight, valuable or not: I stated that in the U.S. most people learn proper business conduct and etiquette from the companies that hire them. We can study the most “random” things in college (English Literature, History, Anthropology, etc) and still find ourselves working in a financial firm, venture capital, branding or consumer products company. The point being that in the U.S., GENERALLY, we are taught the proper business culture when already in that culture. And I stated that from what I observed, Chileans were more preoccupied with making sure that one is the proper Ingeniero Comercial with the adequate amount of excel and economics and marketing courses necessary but with no aspect of how to properly function inside an organization.

I thought about it too. When I started my current job, I had zero experience in licensing. I had worked at a software company during the dot.com craze of the late 90s and when I was laid off due to lack of funding, I worked at a private wealth management firm. I was hired at my current company because I had the college education, I had the basic, fundamental skills needed and I had the drive and knowledge to learn a new business. Further, I had NO experience working with Japanese businesses nor did I have any idea how to conduct myself in a meeting or in negotiations with the Japanese. In fact, given that I was hired to work on the international side of the business, I didn’t have any idea how to do business with ANYONE who wasn’t American! Obviously it took a few months, but I learned all of that and I feel that I have even come to excel in some aspects of it. In the same situation, a Chilean company will try to find a candidate with the exact same business experience (or at least 80% of what’s required for the position) because to them, that’s what’s fundamental – past experience doing the exact same thing. But does that mean they’re hiring the most efficient person out there? Someone who may help increase productivity? If what our professor told us yesterday is true, then I think Chilean companies need to rethink how they do their hiring. That is, if they care about having productive employees.

The best example given yesterday (in my opinion) was by the women who work at Lider, one of the major supermarket/hipermarket chains here in Chile. Lider is now owned by Walmart and as such, we were given a top-line example of how the business culture at Lider changed when Walmart came with their team to implement the new procedures and spark the Walmart culture of “Save Money. Live Better.” Though we weren’t offered major specifics, the examples offered clearly demonstrated how Walmart, with its American business culture, spent time observing how corporate and retail Lider worked and implemented changes that would increase productivity and efficiency across the board. It’s a work-in-progress we were told, but already changes were apparent.

Then I got to thinking of the comment thrown out about professionalism and how many Chilean executives and professionals lack this fundamental quality in the workplace. I recalled stories I’ve heard about (mainly) women who go into their bosses offices here, only to sit down and literally start bawling. I’ve heard this more than once, with different women in different companies for different reasons. Regardless of the reason, I’m always taken aback by this. What kind of executive allows her superiors, even her peers, to see her break down in the office? Whether right or wrong, to do so only promotes the quick labeling of her (us) as weak or fragile and not someone who can carry a burden of responsibility. The UBER female in me wants to ask these women “Helllooooooo did you not see the episode of Sex and the City when Samantha and Charlotte talked about the effects of crying the workplace? Do I need to do a PSA about this for all those out there who feel the overwhelming need to bawl and ruin the reputation of the rest of us?” Because I would if I could. This is just one example of the unprofessional nature of some executives here in Chile, but I can add to the mix those who take their half hour cigarette breaks, those who go out for 2+ hour lunches, those women who abuse their maternity leave and tack on days that become weeks that turn into months outside the office because their baby spits up milk or whatever lame excuse is used…

I can’t say that the United States is the most productive or most efficient business capital of the world, nor can I attest that our workers don’t slack off. I’ve seen many who do, hiding behind the guise of a Senior This-or-That title and taking credit for work done by those working under them. I’ve seen those who stroll into work at 10 am and leave at 4 pm everyday. And I’ve seen those who sit at their computers watching YouTube all day long instead of working.

But in light of the fact that I live in Chile now, I wonder, if what our professor told us is true, what’s the real reason behind it? Further, how can it be changed?

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