Martin Torres-Mason - BridgeVirtual Manager
Martin first traveled to Chile at the age of eight, and ended up living there until 18. After studying Journalism and Political Science in college, he moved back to Chile and started working as a teacher for Bridge. His work focused primarily in special projects, such as teaching mining managers in the Andes. After working as Bridge’s Curriculum Coordinator in Chile and developing their language programs in Argentina, Martin moved back to Chile and now holds the position of Manager of E-Learning platforms BridgeVirtual.
You work for Bridge in Santiago, Chile, and have also worked in the Buenos Aires, Argentina school. What do you find to be the biggest difference between the two cities?
I would say that Santiago is more modern in relation to technology, transportation, and skyscrapers, which is what you would expect from the international business center for Latin America. On the other hand, however, Buenos Aires is very European with its focus on museums, culture, and traditional architecture. Buenos Aires really exudes an artistic pizazz, while Santiago embraces its organized structure.
You've been a part of Bridge since 2008. What do you love about your job?
I love knowing that we are contributing to the language learning process of our students, as well as providing them with an excellent experience in their study abroad programs. Several students have returned to our centers in Argentina and Chile and they emphasize the great experiences they had with Bridge such as host families, excursions, and of course the course itselfs It’s extremely rewarding to witness first-hand the positive impact that Bridge programs have on our students and their professional or personal growth.
Who influenced you to start traveling?
My parents and grandparents have spent many years traveling to places such as Italy, Jerusalem, South Africa, Cuba, Congo, Spain, and Brazil... and even today they continue to travel! For me, seeing pictures of their adventures and hearing their stories prompted me to start traveling. There are few things in life as rewarding as getting out into the world, experiencing different cultures, meeting new people, and exploring unknown places. Travelling is something that I hope to do my whole life, and I would encourage others to do so too!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to study abroad in Chile and/or Argentina?
You will have an incredible experience regardless of which country you visit! My best piece of advice is to approach every new situation with an open mind--you just might learn something new! Also, never be early to any social event -- Latin American timing is very laid-back!
You grew up in a bilingual household. How has this influenced your degree and career choice?
Growing up in a household with over three languages spoken really prompted me to work in an industry that not only promotes language learning but also education abroad, as one is dependent on the other. Living abroad in a foreign country is crucial for language learning, and language learning is a key aspect of education abroad.
What's the most bizarre dish you've tried while traveling?
I’ve tried cow tongue a few times...it’s not so bad with some lime and salt, and a nice glass of wine!
You were born in Canada and went to college there. How do you stay in contact with friends and family while living abroad?
The great thing about living abroad in this day and age is that it’s so easy to stay in contact with people on the other side of the world! I mostly use Skype to talk to friends back in Canada, but there are also newer applications such as Viber and Google Hangouts which provide calling features. I also use Whatsapp to message with all of my contacts, even in the country where I currently live. There’s just so many options to stay in touch no matter where you are!
If you could go to any country you haven't yet visited, where would you go?
I would really love to visit Egypt. The wealth of cultural, religious, and architectural history that the country possesses is just astounding. From the Great Pyramids, to the Nile River, to the Valley of the Kings, the whole country is filled with historically significant places to visit, as well as modern food, music, and culture to experience!