FTMBA students Claire Levy, Arun Kanuri, Vlada Alexandrov, Thato Keineetse, and Justin Savino-Sullins spent the past three weeks in Santiago, Chile working on an International Business Development (IBD) project.
Chile is one of the most geographically diverse countries in the world, but because it is so long, it takes a lot of time to travel to many of the most famous sites. Eager to see the country, we left Berkeley as soon as we could after finals in order to have time to explore before beginning work. A few of us flew up to San Pedro de Atacama, an amazing destination in the desert. We toured around geysers, hiked up sand dunes, swam in salt lagoons, and basked in hot springs. Atacama is the driest desert in the world (although nowhere near the warmest, which we discovered too late!) and sits on a major tectonic fault line, which accounts for some spectacular geological phenomena. We collectively took hundreds of photos of the surrounding volcanoes and spectacular sunsets.
A couple of team members drove up into the mountains around Santiago and took in the beautiful scenery of snowcapped mountains and Maípo, an active volcano. Battling jet lag and high altitude, they hiked to a waterfall and took photos of the rainbow it created.
Working at Mediastream
We are here in Chile to work with Mediastream, a local startup that provides media streaming platforms to media companies and other firms. Through our research and conversations with our clients, we have become experts on tech terms like CDN, SVOD, OVP vs. OTT, transcoding, encoding, packaging on the fly, adaptive streaming technology, server-side ad stitching, and more. Our hosts put us up in the CEO’s office so that we could use the glass walls as whiteboards for our many charts, lists, and frameworks. It has been great to have our own space in which to discuss ideas and make decisions as a group, and there is a large Darth Vader model presiding over us to make sure we stay on task. We’ve also enjoyed the occasional visit from the CEO’s one-year-old son Max, whose smile is impossible to resist.
During our second week, our hosts threw us a barbecue lunch on the deck, featuring typical Chilean empanadas and completos, which are basically hot dogs overloaded with toppings, including guacamole. It was a great opportunity for us to chat with some of the other employees and ask some of our questions about the company culture and history. Everyone was very kind and welcoming, and we capped it off by all taking a selfie with Luis, the CEO and founder of Mediastream.
Living in Providencia
Our office and hotel are both located in the district of Providencia in central Santiago. It’s a very well-to-do neighborhood, with beautiful tree-lined streets, fancy homes, and great dog watching opportunities. It’s been relatively easy to adjust to the culture and lifestyle here because it’s not terribly different from the States: 10 hour working days, running in the park, and takeout sushi for dinner. There are some funny smaller differences, however, like the fact that every sushi roll but one on most menus has cream cheese in it. The Chileans love their queso crema! The biggest adjustment apart from the language barrier is probably the change in seasons. It’s been stranger than expected to experience autumn for the second time in seven months, and the chill in the air and falling leaves connote Thanksgiving while our friends back home are posting photos from Memorial Day pool parties!
Our neighborhood is in many ways non-representative of the typical way of life in Chile, so we were happy to discover a totally different world across the city and enjoyed a traditional dinner at a local restaurant on our way out of town for the weekend. As you can see in the photo, the crowds at the bus station were pretty intense!
Trip to Valparaíso
We spent our second weekend in Chile in the port city of Valparaíso, a city now known to tourists for its incredible display of colorful graffiti and excellent nightlife. We made sure to experience both, and enjoyed walking tours of the city and a night of dancing with a view of the bay.
While we were visiting, the president of Chile was in town for an annual address, and there were protests, and even a fire. We were perfectly safe, but warnings of strikes and protests have become fairly routine during this trip, as you can see from our email history.
One of our favorite elements of the city was the stray dog population. The city is full of beautiful, clean, well-fed dogs that roam the streets and often walked along quietly to protect us. It’s traditional to offer the dogs a snack once they’ve safely delivered you home. We were also befriended by a cat, and a sweet puppy followed us into our hotel one night when we were back in Santiago.
With the help of some of our Chilean Haasie friends and our Mediastream clients, we hit the town and made sure to immerse ourselves in the culture. Between language exchange meetups, balcony barbeques (three!), improve comedy, nights out dancing, museum visits, and pub crawls, we did our best to get to know the country and make some new friends. For our final presentation, we even gave ourselves new professional titles to represent our roles in the group. It was a great experience! Thanks to Mediastream and everyone who helped make it possible!