Back to SummaryChristina Guros - Student Advisor Profile
MINOR: Human Biology
When I arrived at the home of my Chilean host family on a scorching January afternoon, all I wanted to do was sleep. Yet the family was headed to my host father’s parents’ house just outside Santiago, and they invited me along. I only hesitated a moment before accepting the invitation; I didn’t want to pass up any opportunity or experience in Chile!
We started out our excursion in Paris, a Sears-like department store that is a common destination among Chilean shoppers. I was awed by the sameness—the clothing, furniture and electronics departments could have been part of any U.S.
mall—and yet surprised at the hour-long wait my host dad had for ordering a sofa. Afterward we got on the freeway and saw Santiago’s downtown high-rises zoom by. A half-hour drive took us to a suburb of the city where small houses were lined with hibiscus flowers and beautiful trees. Mothers walked down sidewalks hand-in-hand with their children, followed by the occasional neighborhood dog.
My host grandparents welcomed me as if I were a part of the family and patiently encouraged me to tell about myself in my slow and choppy Spanish. We ate a large lunch (as is fairly custom in Chile) that included the freshest tomatoes and avocado I had ever eaten. Despite the entertainment of my vivacious, three-year-old host sister, Fernanda, I began to succumb to my exhaustion following our meal. My host family picked up on this right away and insisted I take a nap. As I drifted off to the sounds of birds chirping in the summer breeze, I remember thinking how comfortable and at-home I felt.
Throughout my 10 weeks in Chile, I never lost that feeling of home. I soon fell in love with my host sisters and parents, and looked forward to our family meal times. We watched the news together every night at dinner; when I didn’t get the gist of a report my host parents, Francis and Claudio, would explain it to me
and give me background information on the issues. After we cleared the table, Claudio and I would watch the popular local karaoke show and laugh at the contestants while Francis sang along.
My quarter in Santiago was the first time in my Stanford career in which I had less than 12 people in each of my classes. For this reason, I learned more in that quarter than in any prior. My favorite course was on Latin America’s role in the international political arena. The professor helped us to view Latin America from our temporary role as residents of the region, and challenged us to discover why certain socioeconomic and political problems persist there today. For our final exam review session, our professor invited us to dinner at his apartment where we spent time with his wife and baby.
Although I made life-long memories with fellow Stanford students relaxing at beautiful Chilean beaches, whitewater rafting through the Andes, or walking down the streets of Buenos Aires, I will remember most the Saturday afternoon lunches with my Chilean relatives. Every weekend my host family would drive over to their cousins’ house where my host grandpa, Walter, would cook some delicious feast. I usually sat quietly and watched the grandkids swim in the pool, the adults enjoying the summer sun, and Walter cracking a joke at whoever was in earshot.
Near the end of the quarter I was able to attend the wedding of a couple I had met through a Chilean friend. In Chile’s traditional Catholic culture, I expected a
formal affair and wore a nice dress. I arrived to find the bride in bare feet and the groom in an old t-shirt! The wedding was done as a civil ceremony in the bride’s backyard, and the reception followed with a barbeque and wild singing and dancing. I had been very nervous coming in without knowing anyone, but soon found myself among friends, joking and discussing our common love for R&B music. My time in Chile was truly enlivening as every experience turned out completely different from what I had expected. And I never ceased to be amazed by the wonderful hospitality of Chilenos.