2018 Spring Chile External Programs IFSA Morgan Rock

A Perfectly Pleasant "Pascua"

I’m reaching the end of my extended weekend, and I’m so not ready for classes this week. I have two “reading controls” – tests that are solely on the readings for my classes, as the name suggests. In addition to my two massive tests, I also have two essays due this week. At this point, I’m really just trying to take it one day at time.

Something interesting about classes in Chile is that the readings for the class aren’t neatly organized by date and class on the syllabus as with most classes in the United States. Instead, the professor gives you a massive list of readings to complete at some point (preferably before the first reading control). Although I appreciate the decreased rigidity of the classes, it definitely takes a lot of self-discipline to sit down and actually complete all the readings without a set due date.

Besides the dark cloud of impending failure hanging over me this weekend, I did have a lovely Easter weekend (also, quick fun fact – Easter in Spanish is “Pascua”, thus explaining the title of my post this week).  Everything (including the universities) was closed on Good Friday, so I enjoyed a low-key day with my host family. The rest of my weekend was fairly uneventful and mostly consisted of bopping around Viña and Valpo.

Many of the countries in Latin America retain strong Catholic influences left over from hundreds of years of Spanish dominance and indoctrination. Countries like Mexico and Brazil are still majority-Catholic, although their numbers have significantly decreased in the past thirty years. In contrast, there isn’t as much of a Catholic influence in Chile. In fact, about a third of Chile’s population doesn’t believe in any religion, or, at least, so I’ve been told. The upcoming generation of Chileans is especially irreligious, the generation Americans would call “Millennials”.

Despite the decreasing popularity of religion in Chile, Easter still retains its cultural importance, just as it does in the United States. However, one of the main differences is the elevated importance of Good Friday, instead of Easter Sunday itself. As I mentioned, everything is closed on Good Friday and families spend time together. However, Easter itself is pretty uneventful. On Easter, I received a little basket with a bunny and chocolate eggs inside but, besides that and the light lunch I ate with my family, we didn’t do much.

Something important to note is that my host family is not religious, so someone staying with a different family may easily have fostered a different experience. It just surprised me a little bit from an American perspective because Easter Sunday is such an event! At my house in the United States, even though my family is not religious, it’s a whole day event, from the big Easter breakfast and egg-hunting all the way to the excessive feast later in the night. Of course, I missed the whole Easter spectacle a little bit, but the Chilean Easter was no better or worse–just different. I still got some Easter chocolate, complete with the chocolate bunny, so that’s really all that matters at the end of the day anyway!

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