In Spanish class we learned that the way to say goodbye is “Adios!” At least in Chile, though, that’s not how you do it. Everyone says “Chao!” as goodbye, and it’s accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, maybe a hug, cuídate, nos vemos!
Despedirse is something you do every time you leave a social gathering. And it’s required for everyone there. You have to go around the room and say goodbye to all the people you’re with before it’s okay to leave.
At the beginning of my time in Chile, this was really uncomfortable for me, because I wasn’t sure how to insert myself in someone’s conversation to say goodbye. I always felt like I was interrupting something. Or that I was holding up my family from leaving. The truth is, though, that they’re never in a hurry, and the cultural value of acknowledging others trumps the extra inconvenience.
For me, this shift in cultural values requires extra effort, and to be honest I’m still not the best at the practice of despedirse, but that’s something I want to keep working on until I have to leave.
The end of my study abroad program is coming up just on the horizon. We have a month and a week before we all part ways. I’m anticipating that this goodbye will be very difficult.
In my time here I have made a lot of wonderful friends. Both my amigos gringos and amigos chilenos have made a remarkable impact on me. I have been greeted with such kindness, invited into a new family, and accepted for who I am. I can share my heart and soul with the people I have met here, and for that I am so grateful.
I’m not ready to say goodbye.