I have traveled through more of Chile than the U.S. Granted, the U.S. is much bigger and it is a much greater undertaking to get to know the whole country. Before this trip, I had been to the Midwest once, to St. Louis in 2007 to visit my friends from study abroad. I had always heard that people from the Midwest were really friendly. I didn’t particularly notice that during my trip to St. Louis. I didn’t find the people to be mean by any means, but I didn’t notice any particular difference.
Not so in Minnesota.
The people I encountered in the Twin Cities were SO. NICE. From waiters to cashiers at Target to my friend’s friends and roommates, everyone was genuinely friendly. I think that on the East Coast, people are generally polite, but don’t go above and beyond to make strangers feel comfortable, but I definitely got that feeling in Minnesota.
In fact, it inspired me to attempt to do the impossible: be friendly in Santiago. Instead of just saying “hola” to the cashiers at the grocery store I have tried saying “Hola, cómo está?” (Hi, how are you?) Adding those two simple words sometimes has good effects and gets a smile. Sometimes it doesn’t. After all, we are in Santiago. But making this small effort makes me feel better and more positive, and that’s always good.