My trip to Chile was absolutely wonderful. The first day we took a tour of the whole city, going from the main plaza (Plaza de Armas) to Santa Lucia Hill where we got a beautiful view of all of Santiago. It’s worth mentioning that Santiago itself has a beautiful view of the mountains surrounding it. At the forefront are the average “montañas” (that are still really big by the way) but behind them the mountains are so tall that they’re actually snowcapped, even in the summer. They actually have a different word for these snowcapped mountains, which is “sierra”. These mountains that you see from Santiago are actually the Andes mountain range, which runs all the way down Chile, and the view is supposedly even more beautiful in the winter when all the mountains are covered in snow. They’re also a great source of entertainment all year round since people frequently go mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
The second day we went to La Moneda Palace; the beautiful building is where the government operates and where the President, Michelle Bachelet, works. It’s like taking a tour of the White House and it was really cool to see the place and hear its history. Another day we visited the business district of Santiago (The Wall Street of Chile) and got to see first hand how business in Chile is conducted. We went to Santander Bank, the most prestigious bank in Chile and learned all about the economic situation of Chile, the business culture, the Chilean mindset and the differences and similarities between America and Chile. This was really interesting because Chileans really are different from Americans and to succeed in Chile understanding the culture and mindset of the typical Chilean is very important. Another time we visited a local business called Black Sheep. They probably have the coolest office I’ve ever seen. Words can’t do it justice, but they had mini golf, which is just one of the many cool things about their venue.
One of the most beautiful places we went to was the Vina Santa Rita. This was a vineyard about an hour away from Santiago. The views of the mountains were great but their garden and vineyards were even more scenic. They showed us the whole winemaking process and explained to us the wine business. The containers in which they mad the wine were overwhelming because of their size and quantity and the cellars where they keep all the barrels of wine were pretty cool; it kind of looked like the scene in that Jim Beam commercial with Mila Kunis. They had some really old wines in storage and at the end there was a wine tasting.
Although the places we visited were nice it’s really the people that make or break a trip, and our group was so much fun! There were twenty of us, Binghamton students, and we were joined in class by ten Chilean students. I loved them all. Firstly, the diversity among the Binghamton students really contributed a lot to the trip. It wasn’t just a bunch of SOM kids; we had Watson kids, Harpur kids and grad students. We had a lot of fun together and the Chilean students really brought so much to the table. Besides for the fact that they translated for us, showed us around, and told us all the best restaurants, they were also just fun to be around. I could honestly say that I made life-long friends on this trip and that’s the biggest thing I got out of this trip more than anything else.
I definitely plan on going back to Chile again. There’s so much I didn’t get to see and do that I want to experience. I didn’t get the chance to go to the beach, or the Patagonia down south. I would also love to go in the winter and ski, and see the views. Also in the spring there’s a small window of time in the dessert where all the flowers bloom and it’s supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. Lastly, I want to see all my friends back in Chile.
Daniel Lavian, a School of Management student, who participated in Chile: Doing Business in Emerging Markets winter study abroad program in winter 2016