I have yet to truly experience culture shock. The things that would account for culture shock to other people don't really bother me. Though, it's only been about a week since I have arrived. One of the major differences between here and the states, or really any English speaking culture, is the mañana attitude. People always say I'll fix this tomorrow, or we'll do this tomorrow. Mañana usually means they'll get to it sometime, but not necessarily any time soon. It's sort of similar to our soon, very vague. I don't really mind it, but it's driving the other English cultures nuts.
Another cultural difference is that the people here are very nice one on one, in fact, they will do anything for anyone. That being said, it's normal for people to cut in line or bump you out of your spot if you're not holding your ground. You have to be really alert and ready at all times, or people will take advantage of this and you'll lose your turn. They also have no concept of others around. The other day there was a long line at the grocery store and this man made it impossible for me to get around the line without going up the aisle and around the line that way. I said excuse me in spanish, and he sort of acted oblivious. I think he actually was. Kids are the worst about it here. I've had so many kids playing in the aisle at the grocery store just completely run into me because they literally don't see anyone. Parents don't really have much dicipline when it comes to running around public places.
Which brings me to my next point. Parents baby their children so much here. You'll see parents spoon feeding their children who are around the ages of 7 and 8. They like to keep their children young. They'll puree their children's food so that they can basically swallow it effortlessly. It's really gross, but sort of funny. It's just too much work for those little babies (6,7, and 8 year olds) to chew their own food. Despite it being totally weird to see parents babying their children who for us are way too old to be babied, the kids in this country are still so innocent, which is a huge change from the kids in the states.
Everything is really sweet here too. The Ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise is really sweet. Disgusting! There is sugar everywhere. They love this thing called manjar, which is like caramel. Manjar is in EVERYTHING! It's really hard to get away from it. There are very few sweets that don't have manjar in it. It is pretty good, but in moderation...there is no moderating manjar in Chile!!! :)
I'm pretty sure when I come back to the states I'm going to come off as pretentious, Euro trash. People greet with a kiss and leave with ciao. The welcoming is one kiss on the cheek and everyone gets it: famiily, friends, acquaintences, and people they have just been introduced. I am such a schmuck that I always go in for the handshake with new people and then when they go in to kiss my cheek, I feel a mixture of sweetness and uncomfort. In many ways it is so much more welcoming and feels really nice to be close to people, but at the same time it's a bit invasive, especially to an American Gringo! So, it's something I'm getting used to, but liking too. Ciao is about the best word for goodbye I can think of. It's kind of cheeky and cute, but sophisticated too. I LOVE this word! Though it's not well recieved in the States, and I'm going to have to be careful not to say it when I come back. After two years, it could be hard.Often we'll see the kids from the school walking around a place called Jumbe, which is really like Chilean Walmart, but a little nicer. It's very customary to kiss the kids when you see them. Yes, sometimes they kiss you on the mouth and it's really weird, but if you don't do it, the parents get offended. Because our culture is so hands off, it really makes my American blood nervous. Teachers, and so being appropriately affectionate with the students is fine. It's customary for students to walk into a classroom and kiss their teachers, and then kiss them at the end of the day. There are also many hugs. It's sort of hard to get used to, but I'm beginning to realize how cold I must come off to them. Kissing is a huge part of this culutre. People are very open about their relationships. It's not unusual to see people making out in public. People are much more accepting of PDA. This part of Chiean culture is harder for me to embrace. It makes me super uncomfortable. Lunches are big and long. Many businesses shut down from about 1:00-4:00 for people to go home and have lunch with their families. The schools don't do this, so I will only be able to have my big family lunches on the weekends. Despite really liking to go out for dinner with friends, lunch is really starting to grow on me.