Cultural Comparison: Chile & Tucson

April 20, 2022

International student and Unibuddy Ambassador Sofia talks about some of the differences between Chile and Tucson



Are you curious about what it's like to live in Tucson, Arizona?

I'm Sofia, and I am a sophomore at the University of Arizona, majoring in English with a minor in Public Relations. I am originally from Santiago, Chile, but I was born in Bogota, Colombia. I am a Unibuddy Ambassador on the International Admissions team at, and I love to talk to prospective students about my experience and answer their questions about the University. 

Walking along a street in Tucson, I will often hear sprinkles of Spanish words or phrases float by me. With the constant exposure to Spanish, it is sometimes hard for me to remember that I am not back home in Chile. The mountains in the distance too remind me of the Andes Mountains, which could be seen from my house in Chile.

Tucson is home to a mixture of many cultures, so it is not uncommon to hear different languages being spoken. Of course, the melting pot of cultures also contributes to Tucson’s well-known varied cuisine. Additionally, Tucson is an arid environment, dry and sandy, where it rarely rains, similar to parts of Chile’s environment.

Although I have found that there are many similarities between Tucson and Chile, there are also a number of cultural differences. One thing that I found particularly striking when I first moved here was the importance of punctuality. In Chile, a date or time is more like a suggestion rather than an actual agreement. It is not uncommon to have an event set to start at 2 pm but have everyone show up at 4 pm instead. Here, however, being punctual is important and showing up somewhere on time is a sign of respect.

Another key cultural difference I noticed is how people say hello. In Chile, people say hello by kissing each other on the right cheek. People also take the time to say hello to everyone no matter how large the group is. Here, greetings are more casual. In formal events, people will shake hands while in casual settings greetings are often left to a simple hand wave or a verbal acknowledgement.

Yet another cultural difference is family life. In Chile, most people will live with their parents until they get married or have saved enough money from their first job to move out. Although some people do commute to college in Tucson, there are also many people who have come from out-of-state to go to college. Being by yourself in college is often unheard of in Chile, something that my family took some time to get used to.

Regardless of the differences between my culture and Tucson, I found that with everyone being so friendly, it was easy to adapt to my new surroundings. Through living in the dorms, joining clubs and getting involved on-campus, I have made new friends and memories, creating a sense of community despite the distance.

Sofia's Unibuddy Ambassador Profile

Sofia is a sophomore from Santiago, Chile. She speaks English and Spanish, and wants to pursue a career in Communications and Journalism. Her hobbies and interests range from reading, writing, and working out, to fashion and hanging out with friends. Sofia's favorite course are ENGL 380: Literary Analysis · ENGL 373B: British and American Literature, from Restoration to the 19th Century · PR 317: Strategic Writing for Public Relations · CLAS 160D2: Classical Mythology. Sofia is involved in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, as well as in the clubs UA Trend (the university's fashion club) and U of A Habitat for Humanity. A fun fact about Sofia is that she has lived all over the world (India, China, Chile, Japan, New York, England). 

You can connect and chat with Sofia and other Unibuddy Ambassadors at Follow the Unibuddy Blog here.