At the moment I sit nearly 36,000 feet off the ground. Seven hours ago Delta flight 146 took off from the Santiago International Airport, made its ascent over the low coastal Cordillera, and turned northwards. Seated on the far left side of the aircraft, in seat 28A, I watched as the shimmering lights of Valparaíso, Chile slid off into the distance. I find it fitting that the last view of my home for the last five months was undoubtedly the best. While a whirlwind of emotions swirled inside my body, the clearest one of them all was joy. Yes, leaving Chile, my host family and friends was a very difficult, teary thing to do, but in the end it gave me joy. Joy in the fact that I had created countless relationships and memories, both of which would last a lifetime. Joy in the fact that I had become a better Spanish speaker and better person. And most notably, joy in the fact that I had accomplished this grand journey, the greatest experience of my life.
To all those, who have helped along the way, I would like to thank you, but the truth is that words will never be enough. To my host family and friends for the continued support, to my teachers and to anyone else who I have ever talked to, while not fluent, I have greatly improved my Spanish l, and you all are the reason for that. And now, having saved the biggest and best for last, thank you to the Spanish Dictionary and Google Translate apps, without either of you my time in Chile would have been indescribably difficult.
I'm not too sure what other things people include in their final posts, but as flight DL146 begins its descent into Atlanta, I'll leave you with this quote, the same one I included in my goodbye speech: “If you're not falling, you're stalling. When you try hard enough to fail and even flail, you're not simply outside the comfort zone, you're inside the flow state.” I spent the latter half of my last morning in Chile falling on my ass after my Mom, Kathleen, her dad Paul, and myself, choose to climb a decidedly steep and icy pitch on a hike. I was cold and my feet were soaked after snow continually found it's way into my lightweight running shoes. I was definitely outside the comfort zone, and with it, I learned something, one, don't underestimate the cold, and two, when everyone else going on the trail has hiking boots, trekking poles, and really expensive alpineering gear, maybe you should rethink your decision to continue. Alright, so maybe that wasn't the best example, but going abroad certainly is. Even if you come prepared, as I surely wasn't, you are bound to fail. Fail to understand the language, the customs, whatever it may be, it is bound to happen. But in the end, those are the experiences that we grow from. So as long winded a route as it may have been, that is the idea that I leave you with. Go out there and do something, force yourself to do something, that ends up with you on your ass. I guarantee you will gain something from it.
So there you have it. If I do make a return to Chile I will be sure to write about it here, but until that moment, from somewhere over the peach fields of southern Georgia, over and out.