I’m a small town girl, always have been. I grew up in a small town, and decided to go to college in an even smaller town. In the rare occurrences I spend time in a city, I am like a child, in awe and taking it all in – even if that city is simply Minneapolis. So in the short time I studied abroad in the third largest city in Chile, Viña del Mar, I learned that there are enormous differences between city life and country life – but both have their perks.
(1) If I needed something in the city, I could literally run across the street. At home in Minnesota, I need to drive at least 12 minutes to Target.
(2) Sirens and car horns every other second is quite normal in the city. If that were the case in my small town, something would be terribly wrong.
(3) I feel safe in both places – the city because there are always a billion people around, at home because there’s no one.
(4) There is literally always something happening in the city – things I would never see at home, whether it be a strike, an enormous gas explosion, or simply street entertainment. Some of this chaos is entertaining, others not so much.
(5) In the city (this is specific to Chile) I pass 893,482,374 stray dogs every day. If I were to pass a dog on the street at home, I would no doubt stop (or pull over) to check for a collar and try to get it back to its owner.
(6) Walking. There is so much walking in the city. At home I have to go out of my way to walk as exercise, but in the city it was just something I needed to do day-to-day in order to get where I am going.
(7) Public transportation. Enough said.
(8) Every day in the city is like the farmer’s market at home – crafts, clothes, fruit, etc. These little stands are everywhere, and are so cheap. It was heavenly for a shopaholic like myself.
(9) At home when I go somewhere, I almost always run into someone I know. In the city, I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces and a language I barely knew.
(10) The city basically forces you past your comfort zone – at least that was the case for me. I was actually quite impressed with my map-reading, public-transportation, dog-whispering, broken-Spanish-speaking abilities.
(11) Gypsies. Just gypsies. I’m sure you can guess where I ran into this dilemma – city or country? Yup. My get-away line was “No hablo espanol, bye.”
(12) Some of the neatest places (and this probably goes for both) are off the beaten path. Down a flight of stairs, a left instead of a right, a back corner. But these can also be some of the sketchiest places.
(13) Food – the city has everything you could possibly imagine, while home has Applebee’s. And McDonalds.
(14) Prostitutes – I swear on my life I saw one on a corner, and it was just like a scene from a trashy movie (cause I watch lots of those). This was in the city, not my sweet little hometown.