I leave this Sunday and it’s been hard to accept that, after living here for four months, I’m going home. I’ve fallen in love with this city and have learned so much about myself, life, and the culture of this beautiful country. I’ve met some of the most incredible people while traveling to some of the most beautiful places in the world. My Spanish has improved exponentially and I’m excited to get back into grammar classes this coming semester to learn even more.
I knew I’d come back from this study abroad experience changed and I’m happy to say that I’ve grown as a person in so many ways. I’ve gained confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities and in myself as a person. I’ve embarrassed myself multiple times a week and have been humbled in the process. I’ve gained resilience, a thicker skin, and have been challenged in new ways each day. I have learned to be more flexible, take chances, and make the best of situations that don’t always go as planned. I’ve realized how much I don’t know about life and how much more I still have to learn. And I’ve been constantly reminded of the beauty and good that exists on this earth and how similar people are all over the world.
I’d like to thank the new friends I made in Chile, all of the people I met while traveling, my family in Chile, and my family in the United States who have supported me through this entire experience. I’m so grateful for all of the love, support, and help you’ve all given me, for the lessons you’ve taught me, and for the adventures we’ve had together.
While I don’t have any regrets about my time here in Chile, there are some things I wish I’d known before I’d arrived. Here are some tips to help you get the best out of your study abroad experience in Chile:
- Families usually eat breakfast, a large lunch between 1-3, and then instead of dinner, they usually eat once. Once usually consists of bread with palta (avocado), or ham and cheese and is eaten around 7 o’clock at night.
- Make sure you budget for micro rides! The public buses cost around 400 Chilean pesos, which is about $0.60 in US dollars. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it will add over the semester!
- If you’re traveling to central Chile from May until August, you’ll need to pack some sweaters! I did not pack enough sweaters or long sleeve shirts and was regretting it when the weather starting getting chilly.
- Ask before you flush the toilet paper! Many restaurants and public buildings will have signs saying not to flush toilet paper but make sure to ask your host family because it may be different in your home.
- If you have time, try keeping a journal! Writing in a journal helped me reflect on my experiences and remember what I had done earlier in the semester. If a journal is intimidating, just write one good thing that happens each day!
- Some trips are better unplanned! It’s so easy to travel by bus in Chile so try taking on overnight bus to a new city and explore without any plans!
- Take the time to talk with Chileans. If they offer help with directions on the bus, or if a storeowner asks if you speak Spanish, stop for a moment and have a conversation. It’ll improve your Spanish and you may also meet someone really cool.
- Make the most of your time in Chile! Explore the city after class, sit on the beach and watch the sunset, take a bus to a town close-by to get away from the city for a bit. Try finding a café to do work at instead of going back to your host family’s house right after class. There’s to much to do in Valparaíso and you’ve only got four short months to discover all the city has to offer!