Josie M. spent a summer abroad with CIEE in Valparaiso, and is now studying for a year with us in Chile, thanks to the North Carolina DeNoyelles Scholarship. Read all about her experience in her Q+A with our staff!
Josie M. spent a summer abroad with CIEE in Valparaiso, and is now studying for a year with us in Chile, thanks to the North Carolina DeNoyelles Scholarship. Read all about her experience in her Q+A with our staff!
David Pearl is a high school teacher and lacrosse coach in Maine. His son, Conner, studied abroad during high school in France and is an entering freshman at the University of Southern California. You can find his blog post about studying in France here. David has written this post from the parent perspective on study abroad in high school. David will have two children, Benjamin and Sofia, studying abroad in Spain this fall with CIEE.
What was your experience with study abroad before Conner’s experience? Did you study abroad?
I did not study abroad in high school or college. However, I had a college friend who studied in France our junior year in college. At the end of junior year, I went to visit and we backpacked for a few weeks across Europe. This experience opened my eyes to a whole different way of thinking and living, and I found it exhilarating. After graduating from college, I taught in South Africa and backpacked across Southern and East Africa. This experience solidified my belief in giving my own children a global perspective.
What prepared you the most as a parent for Conner’s study abroad in France?
What made me so prepared was the initiative Conner took in researching and applying to the program. I helped him with the application process, but he really took the lead in every aspect of the application process and making the travel arrangements. I also feel that Conner possessed good common sense and would be respectful of his host family. Don't get me wrong, Conner is NOT the perfect child. However, he is naturally curious, and I knew he would make the most of this opportunity. I think his natural curiosity and his self-motivated drive to learn about where he would be living made me the most comfortable.
How did you keep in touch with your child and how frequently did you communicate?
We spoke weekly on FaceTime - normally on Sundays. We would speak more than that around the holidays or if he was facing adversity or making plans. We normally checked in every 2 to 3 days texting on WhatsApp. Since then I have gotten pretty good at Snapchat, and so with my daughter, Sofia, and son, Benjamin, studying with CIEE in Spain this year I feel like we might use Snapchat daily to keep our streaks alive!
As both a high school teacher and a parent, what did you see as the biggest benefit to studying abroad in high school both educationally and developmentally?
There is no question that your student will benefit from studying abroad. I have been a high school teacher for over 20 years and, in addition to my son, I have seen countless students return from their study abroad experiences. There is no question that the experience has helped them mature. I am a firm believer in allowing my children (and students) to face and learn to cope with adversity. In addition to the educational benefits of becoming more secure or fluent in another language, being confronted by another culture and being forced to be introspective about your own family, school, community, and the United States is wonderful for any young person. This will prepare them more for life than a regular sophomore or junior high school curriculum. I see this as great preparation for college. This is learning beyond the classroom. This is learning about life.
What are you most excited about for your two children’s experience in Spain this fall? Were they inspired to study abroad by Conner’s experience?
Conner's experience totally inspired Benjamin and Sofia to study abroad in Spain this fall. Every child is different so I am excited for them in different ways. The bottom line is that I am confident that they will grow in the ways they need to. I won't be there to protect them. They will need to figure it out. One of the most important aspects of this program is your son or daughter's ability to get along with a whole new family. This summer Conner's host family from France visited us here in Maine. We had a wonderful time getting to know them, and we now feel that we have relatives who live in Rennes, France. Conner faced some adversity when he was living with them. However, he figured it out, and he now loves them.
What would you tell other parents whose children want to study abroad in high school?
I think the study abroad experience can be one of the best experiences you can provide for your son or daughter. This program is not for everyone because your child will likely face some adversity. However, I have seen Conner grow so much from this experience that I was determined to give my other children the same opportunity. You know your child and are in the best position to know if it is right for them. CIEE was a great support. The rest is up to them!
Photo: Conner’s French host family visited Maine this summer: Left to right, Conner, David, host mom Natalie, host dad Thierry, and David’s wife, Amy
I have now made it home, and am working on a few final posts, but for now here is a summary of a field trip I took with my curso a few weeks ago, that for some reason never posted.
Last Wednesday I took a field trip with my entire curso to Santiago. We were supposed to be at the school at 7:30 so the bus could leave at 8. Pretty reasonable right? I set my alarm fifteen minutes earlier than normal and went to bed excited for a day with my classmates in the Capital.
Well, I started off the day by sleeping through my alarm for the first time since I've been here. I probably would have remained sleeping if my host mom had not knocked on my door asking if I was awake. This was at 7, the time I was planning on getting on the micro. I showered and got dressed, and ate some bread all in record time, and then tried to explain to my mom why I didn't want to eat more or sit down and wait for some tea. She kept telling me that Chileans are late for everything, so I shouldn't worry about making it on time. Regardless of this, and because I'm the type of person I am, I rushed out the door and somehow made it to school with ten minutes until 8.I should've listened to my mom, because when I arrived we were still missing a majority of my class. Much to my surprise the bus left almost exactly at 8 and we were on the road! 35 students, our profesor jefe, and one assistant teacher.
Our journey lasted for about five minutes until we stopped at the other Maritimo building (where the juniors and seniors are) and our teachers had to talk to the administration from the other part of the school. Our first stop was to be La Moneda, with a guided tour inside. We arrived at the moneda promptly an hour late (due to traffic and the lengthy stop at the other school), missing our opportunity for the tour and making the guards and people who worked there very frustrated. We were allowed inside and we took a few pictures and then had to leave.
Morin, me and Escarlet
The entire class, 2D
Next we went to the Cultural Center right next to La Moneda. We were allowed to explore for a little bit and then we checked out the Andy Warhol/Pop art exhibit.
Laura, Paula, Me, Joel, Tiare, and Gustavo
Before our teacher let us roam free in the little park we agreed on a time to all meet back below. When this time came around and then ten minutes passed and we were still missing two of our classmates, our teacher told us to go and get on the bus. He said we were going to leave them behind and their parents would have to come look for them. Of course this led to protest and people began calling the two girls. A few minutes later with neither of the girls answering their phones we were all walking to get on the bus when the girls came running up behind us. They had gotten a little lost and we had almost left them behind. The same thing happened with three boys when we were leaving the park where we ate lunch. They lost track of time, and we all called them while our teacher told us to get on the bus. This time we all made it onto the bus and the bus was pulling out of the lot as the three boys come chasing the bus, and made it just in time.
The original plan was to also go to a planetarium, but this particular Wednesday (June 28th) the Chilean national team was playing Portugal so the planetarium was closed. We went to a nearby park, ate lunch, listened to part of the game, walked around and after too many rounds of 'el piso es lava**' we were ready to get back on the bus back to Valpo.
**( 'the floor is lava', side note this has been going on the past few weeks, mostly during school and it's a game/challenge that whenever you hear it you have to pretend the floor is lava and quickly jump on furniture or anything to get off the ground).
The bus ride home was actually so much fun, as an entire class we listened to the remainder of the Chile/Portugal semi-final game. It went to a shoot out and the excitement in the bus was absolutely crazy. Everyone was screaming, cheering and the two people who had live video on their phones were surrounded. Chile won 3-0 putting everyone in a good mood for the remainder of the ride.
I got off the bus with my friends at plaza Sotomayor where I immediately ran into some friends of one of the other exchange students. They recognized me, and roped me into an interview (in English) for their final project.
After this my friends and I walked to plaza Victoria where there is this little ride that looks like a boat. My friends have been trying to convince me to go on it the entire time I've been here (they claim that anyone who lives in Valparaiso has ridden it at least once when they were a little kid). Unfortunately the pirate ship was not open by the time we got there. It wasn't a total bust though, I tried cuchufli for the first time (these are little wafer like tubes filled with manjar and sometimes dipped in chocolate) and we hung out talking for the rest of the night.
Cuchufli for the first time
Here are a few pictures from my friend Escarlet's quince (15th birthday party, think sweet sixteen). We were told to come semi-formal and we did a lot of dancing, singing and more dancing.
I've got a lot more coming, final thoughts, final explorations in Chile, goodbyes and big take aways. So stay tuned,
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.
I sit here in an upstairs bedroom, in my aunt's house in Santiago, a mixture of feelings. I will spend the night here, awaiting my mom's arrival tomorrow morning. On one hand, I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to see her and to show her around where I've lived the past five months of my life. Then in the other lies this deep sadness. The sadness that comes with goodbyes. During the past week I've had to say goodbye to my classmates, teachers, and friends. And the fact of the matter is that this goodbye, this absolutely crushing goodbye, may be the last time that I will ever see them again. Yes, of course I want to stay, and when back in the US, I will want to return, but money is an object, and the last time I checked, myself, nor my family had $1000 to throw down. I know that one day a return will be made, but for now it's only a dream.
Here are some moments from my last week in school and with my friends, both Chilean and from CIEE.
This first picture is actually not from my last week in school, but rather my first day. The one below it is my last day going to school wearing my normal uniform.
The second picture was from Tuesday, but Monday I went to school for the final time in my buzo (tracksuit).
Yes. For those wondering I am wearing socks and flip flops, and yes, I am rocking the hell out of it.
Wednesday was my actual last day of school. We were given the opportunity to wear ropa de calle, and I took full advantage of it.
We had both a despedida for me as well as a convivencia for the end of the semester on Wednesday. I said my many goodbyes to my classmates, and teachers, my classmates of which I would only see a view of in the following days.
I took one last look at Teresita de Lisieux and that was it. The feeling was so surreal, leaving something that has played such a large role in my life these past months.
Sorry for the lack of pictures in the coming bit; I'm pretty bad at making sure I get some, it was often dark, and sometimes, it's just better to enjoy the moment, especially when it's your last.
Wednesday night I was invited to the Mia's despedida for her Tercero Medio class. We of course, had a barbeque, amongst other Chileanish traditions not to be written about on this blog.
Thursday, CIEE threw us, the students, a goodbye lunch, in the Via-Via Cafe, the place we first ate at. I really don't think I'm doing a great job showing how I felt during this last week but I did write, and horribly deliver, a speech at the lunch that might better convey my feelings. I finished it around noon, scrambled to get it printed and ran to the bus stop to be on time to the one o'clock lunch. That means there could be some errors, forgive me, but I think I'll just leave it in its raw form. Here it is.
Well to be honest I don’t really know where to start. Over the past few months I’ve collected small ideas and lines of what I might want to say in this speech, but no that the moment has arrived I’m very unsure in what direction I should take it. I was never very funny, so that path would be fairly hard to take, but I also didn’t want to stand up here and deliver a something depressing, what I’ve written is somewhere in the middle. Enjoy.
I once read somewhere that the best way to start a speech was with a quote, boom, now that’s checked off. No, but actually it’s this, “the years pass quickly, the days slowly.” I really could not identify with this more. I can remember many of my experiences as though they were just yesterday. It was just yesterday that you guys waved to my dumbfounded ass in the Atlanta Airport. Just yesterday we went to Pucón and bathed in hot springs under the stars and rode horses in volcanic river washouts. Just yesterday that Hernán was teaching us Spanish and just yesterday that I talked to Gloria during our first dinner in the Internado, and realized just how bad my Spanish was, those wouldn’t really stop. But the truth is that no. Those things did not just happen yesterday. Yesterday was my last day at school. The last day I would see my classmates, my teachers, and the god awesome view. It was a time of tears, of gifts, and hasta siempre. That last one still has really yet to hit me. But in this time of sadness, I offer you a second quote to perhaps provide some solace. “Do not be sad because it’s over, be happy because it happened.” Now I know I’m falling a bit towards that depressing side so here’s a joke: ''I went to the zoo the other day, there was only one dog in it, it was a shitzu.''
Yeah, anyways, almost five months ago we arrived, in Santiago on a hot summer day, having met each other less than 24 hours beforehand. It was I learned I was not the best Spanish speaker, I can now confidently say that I sure as hell did not steal that title from you Mia. Now that’s not to say I didn’t learn a lot, not only about Spanish, but also Chile and it’s people, it’s often very late people. I learned to tie a tie and how to ride la micro. I learned to sing the national anthem and to force myself out of bed into to that goddamn unheated air. But most importantly I learned much about myself. I hope I speak for all of us when I say we have undergone changes. These changes, not so much physical, but rather mental, and perhaps theological have taken time. During this time, we have watched Valparaíso change. The leaves have fallen from my apricot tree, and storms have battered the coast. It has rained more often, and I would really like to thank Jesus for that one because it has provided me many days off.
These four and a half months have been the greatest experience of my life and I have you guys to thank for that. While I’m very thankful for each and every one of you I would really like to highlight two people. I don’t mean to offend anyone by doing this but we’re in 2017 and sometimes that is hard to control. First I would like to thank Kathleen. Thank you for being the constant source of inspiration. Whether it be your blog or your get out there and do it attitude, you made me, well, get out there and do things. Thank you for being my exploration and running buddy, and partner in crime, or at least defending ourselves from it. But in all seriousness, I do hope your nose is doing alright. Second, and sorry Kathleen, but with a larger thank you, I would like to acknowledge and thank Mia. God knows I would not have made it through this experience without you. I said it has been the greatest experience of my life, but that’s not to say it has not been easy. Mia, you have been the greatest help in the world, sorry CIEE staff. I will never be able to repay you for the hug you gave me during lunch one day about a month into school when I just couldn’t stop crying. I will never be able to repay you for introducing me to your friends, whom now I can call my own. The list could go on but I know you got to go surfing so I leave it at those two. As much as I’ll try I really can’t thank you enough, but maybe this (insert bought gift) will do.
If I didn’t name you, like I said before, please don’t be offended, I still very much appreciate all that you have done. I also would like to thank the staff, Maria Paz, Gloria, and Patricio. If any of you, student’s or staff find yourself in Washington hit me up, however I strongly suggest the Western side of the state, the east is full of flat nothingness. But I do know we’ve got some Texans here today, so maybe that’s what you're looking for. If you ever find yourself in Seattle, please do call. My door will always be open to any of you.
I got one last quote, this one from Patagonia Ambassador, Timmy O'Neill, before I wrap this up: “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 think I speak for all of us, maybe minus Mia, when I say we failed, and perhaps even flailed, but we also persevered and here we are. Four and a half months later, better Spanish speakers and better people.
And now to my fellow compañeras, mis amigas: It has been a great honor and privilege to to meet and know you and I wish you all the best of luck in your endeavours. But above all, I wish to see you somewhere again down the road. I’ll miss you all. Thank you so much.
Mia had to leave before we took this picture, but her horse-riding spirit made it back just in time. Gotta to hand photo credits to Emma on this one.
That night we all, once again minus Mia, spent the night at Kathleen's.
Friday morning I woke up and by the time it was 10:30 I had said a final goodbye to Rachel, Emma, and Kelsey. The trip has been such a journey and they have played an integral part in it. To hug them goodbye is one of the hardest things I've ever done.
Also before 10:30 we had made somewhat of a time capsule and I was tasked with burying it.
I know one day one or more of us will return and be flooded back with memories.
Friday night I meet up with some friends and we enjoyed our last night together.
On Saturday at around noon I left to Santiago with my host parents, and here I sit. In a little more than seven hours I will see my mom. It's been more than five months since I last saw her in person. I know that I will cry, and I know that the coming week will be a great time. But at the moment I am saddened by the fact that I might not ever get to see so many people who have made my time here in Valparaíso.
I'll leave this post with a quote, it goes like this: "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." I can only hope that I have made enough of an impact in the lives of the people I have met and known here that I will be remembered. If not, I think I really have to question what in the hell I'm doing.
Until next time...NRH
A lot of people have asked me if I miss my family, or what I miss most while I'm living abroad.
Heads up this is a long post, and probably not going to be the lightest.
To be completely honest, for the first few months I was so busy exploring a new country and trying new things that I wasn't thinking too much about my life in VT. I had left a cold 12 degree snowy winter town to arrive in a Valparaiso summer where I was thrown into a new life doing things that seemed so exciting.
As time went on of course and as I had more down time I started thinking about how different my life is here and that's when I started missing things.
Although I miss things, it's really not as bad as I thought it would be. I've never been away from home (or my parents and sister) for more than a week and leaving for five months I was expecting myself to be a wreck.
I have yet to arrive at that stage of being a wreck, but I do miss some things.
Well what do I miss you ask? Well, mostly I miss my family, my friends and my dog.
Our dog Frankie, I miss how he snuggles up and sits on your lap, and how he is always so cute waiting for me to get home from school every day. I miss having him sleep with me and somehow him taking up the entire bed, although he's only 8 pounds.
My sister Erin and I, she's a year older than me. Although we're almost opposites of each other and like all siblings we argue a lot, having lived with her my entire life and having spent so much time together, it's just plain strange to not see her everyday. I miss complaining about everything to her, visiting her at work for maple creemees, borrowing her clothes and being the one to drive us around.
I miss my friends and just hanging out and talking to them. We speak the same language, (in the very literal sense) and I've known a lot of them for years. Skype and Facetime are great, but it's really not the same thing as telling your best friend a story face to face. I miss feeling like I 'belong' with my friends, understanding jokes, and being able to make jokes. Little things too, like watching the same TV shows and getting book/movie references.
My friends and I, at the party threw me as a surprise before I left
I did a lot of hiking in VT, in the summer and fall we got out almost weekly, and in the winter we would snowshoe. As fun as living in a city is, I miss the little VT mountains and being able to go hike or run in the woods, as this was a big part of my life.
My dad and I, on Mount Mansfield, the trail head is exactly 15 minutes from our house
It sure never snows like this in Valparaiso
I miss drinking water and how common water bottles are in the US (I don't know this might be a Vermont thing). This might seem insignificant as clearly I can (and do) drink water here, but I feel like I'm in a constant state of dehydration because it's weird to carry around a water bottle!!!! It's kind of turned into a joke between all of my Chilean friends though, because they think I drink a lot of water. It also makes me laugh because whenever I go to any of their houses they always make a point to offer me water instead of soda or juice or something because they know I drink a lot of water.
Punctuality--- For example one day I was running really late, and left my house at the time I was supposed to meet a group of friends, arrived 25 minutes late and was still the first to arrive. Another time my host mom was driving me to a friends house (who lives about 40 minutes away) and I was supposed to arrive at 7. We left the house at 7:50.
As a person who likes to arrive exactly on time this has been really hard to get used to. It's not just the idea of being late, but also Chileans are a lot more relaxed about the whole time thing. Like if they are running late, they don't care, they will still make a full breakfast, sit down and have long conversations instead of hurrying and trying to make up a little bit of time so they don't arrive as late.
Dishwasher and dryer
Two things I absolutely admit I took for granted in the US. Remembering we don't have a dryer and have to hang everything outside was strange at first. For example if I forget to put my school dress in the laundry* and need it for the next day, I can't expect it to be dry.
*To clarify I don't do my own laundry here, and my parents at home are probably laughing as they read this, but I believe it or not miss doing my own laundry and making my own bed.
We have a nana here; Senora Maria. She comes to our house every day, does laundry, cleans and cooks. When my host siblings were younger she was also like a nanny to them. This is probably on the top of my list of things that made me uncomfortable in Chile. To just leave my clothes in a bag and then a few days later they show up clean and folded on my bed feels really strange. I also make my bed every morning only to come home and see it's been remade (and remade much better). This sometimes also makes me feel like a little kid, because Senora Maria or my host mom will pack my lunch for school everyday and will make breakfast and dinner and when we eat together they will serve me food and then tell me not to worry about cleaning up afterwards or help with dishes. At first I wasn't sure how to feel about this and kept offering to help, but after observing both of my host siblings just leave after meals I've learned to just do my best helping until I'm told to stop.
I miss dancing, competing and teaching dance. I dance here with a group and it's really fun, but it's very different because I am the youngest one here, where as in VT I am one of the oldest, and even teach classes.
Celtic Company, our dance group at a Christmas show last year
Me dancing at nationals last year where I placed 2nd. This will be my first year I qualified for nationals but will not compete.
I miss the kids I babysit and watch in the nursery every Sunday morning. Between helping at dance camps every summer, babysitting, helping in the nursery and teaching dance I was around kids a lot, but here the only interactions I've had with little kids have been with my friend's little host sister.
Heat. I'm from Vermont and in Vermont it gets quite cold (single digits and below zero...) and also snows a lot. Before I left I was looking at the average year-round weather in Valparaiso and thinking that it'd be a pretty nice. As a result of this I didn't pack a lot of warm clothes. I guess I just assumed that because I was from a cold place I would be fine in a 50 degree winter.
I was definitely wrong and would recommend to anyone coming to Chile during the winter to bring plenty of layers. I think the main difference of why it seems so cold here is there are no heaters in schools or houses. Yes you read that right, there is no heat in my school or house, and that is perfectly normal. That means that during the night and early in the morning it is really COLD! The other day I saw my breath while I was in bed.
It's also hard because we have a uniform here, so we can't wear whatever clothes or however many layers we want to school. I don't think in normal circumstances I would ever wear a dress outside in the morning when it's 45 degrees, but because that's part of the uniform every morning I'm a tad cold waiting for the bus.
Protein Maybe this is a bit ridiculous, but I feel compelled to add this to the list, as eating bread, bread and more bread at every meal, everyday sometimes makes me feel crazy.
Toilet paper in bathrooms My school bathroom has toilet paper about one day a week, and normally for only the first few hours of school. It's not weird for public bathrooms to also not have toilet paper.
Driving I miss being able to drive, and how calm the roads are in VT.
Things being measured in miles, feet, inches and Fahrenheit
Being able to use my phone. I feel a little conflicted putting this on the list, because it's been really nice to use my phone less. I've had my phone with data turned off and it only works when I have wifi. I have wifi at my house of course, but because the wifi at school rarely works, and most weekends I go out, I'm not "as connected" as I was.
Not having to check every step for dog poop. There are so many street dogs here, and this in turn creates sidewalks and streets you have to be careful on.
Bagels, Peanut butter, Clifbars, waffles, ice in drinks I assume this needs no explanation...
Blending in/Easy communication/English. It's still blatantly evident I'm learning Spanish and some days I go through the day struggling to pull out phrases or make sense of what is being said. I miss being able to say whatever I want to whoever, whenever, without having to think about each word and make sure I'm saying things right. Little things you probably don't think about, like being able to sing along to the radio, to music I understand.
As much as it feels like "home" here, I know that I came only with a suitcase (granted it was a pretty big suitcase), a backpack (which my classmates think is huge) and a plane ticket to return in a few months. I unfortunately can not continue living here for the rest of my life and have to get back to my normal life in the US. Part of the reason I think I originally wasn't missing anything from the US was because I knew I was coming back to it. In the back of my head I knew that I would see my family and all of my friends again and life would eventually be back to normal for my senior year. But I can't say that about my life here. Not to sound dramatic, but my life here will never be the same. There will be people here that I won't see again after July and even if I come back (when I come back!) everything will be different. I won't be in school seeing my classmates everyday or living long term with a host family who really feels just like family.
There's a lot of comfort in my life in Vermont as it's all I've ever known, but on the other side: I've built a life here and I am going to strongly miss it.
La micro-- This was actually so much fun for me to try and learn where the different buses go and having the freedom to go wherever is great. I've learned the best way to survive an overcrowded bus in the morning rush hour, as well as how to jump on and off moving buses (definitely not necessary and/or advised). It was also a source of amusement for my friends and host mom as for my entire first four months I was saying "el micro" as I assumed micro was masculine because it ended in an o. However a few weeks ago one of my friends saw I was texting my host mom "Estoy esperando el micro" and couldn't stop laughing when he realized how basically every single day I've been saying and writing "el micro" instead of "la micro". When I corrected the text to say la micro, my host mom responded immediately asking how I finally learned. Apparently she told me that it was la micro the first few times I said el micro, but I have no recollection of this. Now all of my friends like to tease me about this and every time we're on a micro together they ask me what it's called.
One day we took the micro from start to finish, through the entire route
El puerto/mar-- I don't live near the ocean in the US and the closest we have is a lake. While the lake is pretty, nothing can compare to the ocean. I have an amazing view to school every day watching the sunrise over the port with the mountains silhouetted (bonus on the days when you can see the andes with snow on them). I love watching the waves and the sound of the ocean is pretty cool. It was also nice to have such easy access to a ton of different beaches in the summer.
Mi familia-- Mumi and Fran have really taken me in and I feel like a part of the family. They've showed me so much and taught me not only language and culture, but also through opening up their lives and home they've taught me a lot about kindness. They didn't know me before February and had no obligation to host a student, they just chose to. I feel really lucky and fortunate to have had such an amazing family who has taken me on little excursions outside of Valpo, and also allowed me to do my own thing and spend time with my friends and classmates.
Mis amigos y companeros -- I never expected to make such close relationships with my friends here. In school and out of school I've had so much fun with my friends, and just doing normal things like watching movies or going to the mall turns into an adventure. I can't explain how much they've taught me or how much they mean to me.
They've told me on multiple occasions they like hearing me talk, (because I haven't quite mastered the chilean accent) and imitating each others accents has caused so many laughs. In addition to this, they find it quite funny when I attempt to sing reggaeton, but then I get to laugh when they try and sing music in English.
The topic of English has also been super fun with my classmates. Not only do I help them with their school work, but I'm now the official song lyric translator and on occasion, meme translator. One of my friends invented a game where I would say a word or sentence in English and they'd have to guess what it means. Considering they don't know a lot of English the guesses were amusing.
I also find it cool that my friends are so interested in where I'm from and want to know all of about my school, family and life in the US (they were absolutely shocked the first time I told them I could drive).
They have all begged me not to leave and tried to come up with plans so I can stay even a little longer. I feel like part of segundo D and even though I don't know every single one of my classmates, it's a really cool vibe hearing them say that I'm the only gringa and no one can ever replace me. It is going to be really hard to say goodbye and with one week of school left, I'm already dreading the last day.
Mi uniforme-- It's super simple to get up every morning and not have to think about what clothes to wear. I also feel more Chilean when I'm in a uniform, because walking around in the streets although I look like a gringa people assume that because I'm in a uniform going to school here that I'm probably not.
Maritimo-- School is actually fun!! I'm also going to miss being the center of attention in school (only kind of joking). I have also learned to love recreos and having a longer break in between each class where we have to go outside is really nice. I'm also going to miss little things during school like trying to delay the bell everyday during recreo. There is a bell outside next to the patio that a teacher rings every day for us to leave class, or go back to the classrooms. Every day as he walks across the basketball court everyone tries to stop him. He is often delayed by students starting conversations with him, asking him random questions or sometimes just hugging him.
I will also miss trying to avoid the dress code profesora. There is a teacher that walks around and writes down whose dress is too short, whose hair is too long, and another things she feels are wrong. Any time we spot her, Paula and I basically sprint away so we don't get dress coded for our dresses. This felt like a game and was fun, until the day she finally caught us. I got out of a note being sent to my host mom by explaining that I was an exchange student and was only going to be here for a few more weeks. Now whenever that teacher sees me she shields her eyes and tells me she can't even look at a uniform like mine.
Exploring the city I did a lot of after school adventuring, and most of the time with the other exchange students living in Valparaiso. Together we could do touristy things that our Chilean friends would think is boring, or have seen already a hundred times. There is so much to look at, and just walking around to check out the cool art, or to go to different little cafes was super fun.
I was also surprised how close to the other exchange students I've gotten. We're all having completely different experiences here, but we're all in the same boat of being in a brand new place where everything seems different. I'm definitely going to miss them a lot.
Lighting a match for the shower-- having to do this to turn on the californ is super fun, and yeah it's going to be boring to go home and just turn on the water and *bam* hot water.
Asados-- Barbecues here have real meat, and if someone says asado it means, choripanes, chicken and a variety of other meat. Most often barbecues in the US consist of hot dogs and hamburgers.
My host mom's french CD-- Every single time I'm in the car with my host mom we listen to the same CD. Mostly french songs it's kind of calming to hear the same songs I heard my first week here.
How every time Alexis Sanchez puts something on his instagram story, the next day it's included with the morning news.
La comida Empanadas, manjar, the amount of bread we consume on the daily. Te every morning and night with Mumi, avocado in everything, sopaipillas, cuchufli, ceviche (and all the other seafood), completos, and really everything.
Onces A meal dedicated to tea, bread and dessert?! Obviously this is a cultural thing I am going to try to bring back to the US.
How inexpensive everything is (compared to the US).
Using -ito/ita/illo with every word. Ex: pan becomes pancito, agua is aguita and chicos is chiquillos. Although this technically is like saying "little bread, little water or little boys" it's super common to hear words in their diminutive form, and I like it because it makes me feel like everything has character.
Chilean words I've spent a lot of time picking up slang from my classmates and the chilean expressions are so much fun. Learning the right way to stress the words and learning to say things to sound like my friends has been so fun. "yaaaapo, wennnaa, vamo paa lla, que fome, weon".
I've had a few days where I've been annoyed with the Chilean way of life, and thinking how certain situations would be so much different, easier or better at home, and part of me was aching to be back in the US.
But those days (like all days eventually do) passed. I have had so many more positive experiences and opportunities than negative ones here and the reminder of this is all of my amazing friends and family here.
That said I am not quite ready to leave, and am feeling really sad that I've got such little time left.
I was also feeling sad that I won't be there for the entire second semester of fun times. I will already be gone when my curso takes a trip to the jardin botanico and has to present our hip-hop dance. I also won't be there when my classmates have the dance celebration day, cook, decorate and put on their costumes for the big performance.
It's a little ironic, I'm going to be in Chile on the fourth of July, and in the US September 18th, Chile's independence day. I missed prom, my sister's graduation and the second half of junior year with my best friends I've known for years.
I missed a lot, and am going to miss a lot.
Not to try to sound all deep and philosophical, but asi es la vida. That's how life is. My friend who's studying abroad in Argentina right now wrote about how studying abroad comes with tradeoffs. It's all about balance and tradeoff, and you can't be in two places at once.
I think I'm starting to ramble on, so I'll just finish by saying this experience has led to so many amazing memories and eye-opening situations and my time here has flown by. I honestly don't feel ready to leave it all behind, no matter how excited I am to see everyone and everything I love in VT, but I also know I probably won't ever feel ready.
It's one of those things you can't really explain, this trip started out simple, but is goodbyes like always are going to make it end complicated.
Thanks for reading through all that,
First things first, the title. I was never a great fan of comic books. Perhaps it was the fact I often never really understood in which order one was supposed to read the boxes, or maybe it was that I never really found them too funny. My brother, on the other hand, was a great fan. As far as I can remember he spent every morning of his middle school years reading the comics page in the Times. My dad saw this in him, and one Christmas my brother received multiple Calvin and Hobbes books. The title of one of those, ingrained in my mind after months of it sitting on our living room coffee table, reads: The Days Are Just Packed. Such is the way I have felt the past two weeks, and this, paired with the fact that he turns 15 this coming Friday, made it quite a fitting title.
It has been two weeks since my last post in which I said I would writing the following weekend. That obviously didn't happen (again if you've been keeping up), but as the title would explain, I was fairly busy. Let's get into it.
The view from the top of the previously pictured stairs. Gotta get that cardio.
That following Thursday Chile played Germany in a group stage game in the Confederations Cup. I was invited to Tercero Medio where choripan( a very short version of a hot dog) was enjoyed while we watched the game on a TV someone brought in to the class.
Thursday was a rainy day and if you are uninformed about what happens when it rains in Chile I will break it down. Very few people go to school, thus the teachers nor the administration want to teach something only to have to re-teach again when the whole class is present. This leads to the school day being cut short. As someone one from Seattle, a city known for its rain, I find this quite amusing. Class actually ended before the game started but most people stayed and the party was carried out nonetheless.
Friday some friends and I went to Playa Ancha, about a 20 minute micro ride from downtown Valparaíso.
Later that night I played a basketball game. We would go on to win 139-37.
It's not a great picture so you might not be able to read it well or at all, but I thought I should include it so the score I wrote seems credible. We are winning 83-15 with 2:29 remaining in the 3rd.
Saturday my family and I left to Santiago to celebrate Father's Day. We were a week late, but "más vale tarde que nunca" as the spanish saying goes.
We took a lesser-used road that had quite a good view of the Andes and surrounding valley, pictures will back this up.
We meet up with the rest of the extended family in a restaurant where we enjoyed a nice, late buffet lunch.
We spent the rest of the weekend and Monday, as it was some holiday, staying in one of my aunt's houses taking care of her 2 year old twins.
Tuesday I held what might be the last English taller (meaning workshop) alone. I usually do them with Mia, another student in my school from CIEE, but her parents were in Valparaíso so she was spending time with them. We might get one last meeting this coming Tuesday but this is no guarantee as technically all talleres are canceled.
Picture from a few weeks back when we had a fairly good showing.
This previous Thursday was my last at school. I went to my last taller de voleibol and played some ping pong as well.
The following day would be my last Friday at school. Afterwards I went to my last taller de fútbol and watched as the sun set on my last full week of school. I don't think that fact has really sunk in yet.
Directly following this I attended my last basketball game. We won 122-15.
I know this is an even worse picture than the last one but at least it is of the final game clock. I swear to God I'm not making this stuff up.
Saturday was spent buying the food for the barbeque I hosted today for the final of the Confederations Cup. Chile had beaten Portugal on PK's last Thursday to make it in.
The sign reads that the sale of alcohol is prohibited on Sunday due to the vote. Am I the only one that finds this funny?
Sunday, five of my friends came over to have the aforementioned barbeque. In typical Chilean fashion they were about an hour late, but it was all good as we still had about an hour before kickoff. We lit up the barbeque, although it did take a few tries, and cooked about five pounds of meat and chicken. We also had choripan. As fun as it was, the mood was quite a bit dampened when the final whistle was blown and Chile lost 1-0.
This coming week is my last at school. On Wednesday, the 5th of July, I leave Teresita de Lisieux for what might be forever. I have not liked every moment in TDL, in fact I haven't liked a lot of them, but as I said in my last post I've spent a lot of my time there, and I know without doubt that it will be hard to leave. I think this realization of how little time here remains has yet to hit me, but in the meantime I'm just going to try to make the days count, or perhaps as Bill Watterson would say: "keep 'em packed."
Until next time...NRH
As you may remember, when it rains we make sopaipillas. No ifs ands or buts about it.
The other day I learned how to make sopaipillas with Sra. Maria, our nana and my host mom (whom we call Mumi). Below you will find as much of a recipe as we followed.
First thing first: the pumpkin gets cut up and thrown into a pot
Next goes water, and this will heat up until the pumpkin is softer
Prepare some flour. Exact amount: some
Add mashed pumpkin along with some melted butter to flour
Without burning your hands, knead the dough until it forms one mass
Roll out thin and cut into circles.
**Note for this step you may only use the tea mug la Mumi uses every single day
It's the perfect size and makes great circles
Repeat with all of the dough
Poke some holes
Into the oil they go for a few minutes, until golden-ish
Final step is to enjoy!!
We also made Chancaca sauce, which is very sweet and has cinnamon, sugar, orange and chancaca.
Extra tip from my host mom: The sopaipillas that aren't pretty go in the chancaca sauce, and the pretty ones are left to be eaten dry
Sopaipillas can be eaten plain (seco)
Sweet: with manjar or in chancaca sauce (sopaipillas pasadas).
Savory: with ketchup/mayo/mustard, with pebre (herbs, tomato, garlic, onion), butter, avocado or cheese.
Rainy Days (lluvia is rain)
Chileans are funny in the sense that when it rains, everything stops. Practically no one goes to school and it's very strange. Those who do go to school don't use their uniform. Last Friday when it rained the grand total of people in my class (including me) was four. Normally my class has thirty-six.
The other cursos had similar numbers and no class had more than 15 students. Because of this we joined up with the other cursos and had classes with them. Eventually they let us go home early and because at the time it wasn't actually raining me and a few friends walked from our school to the Plaza Anibal Pinto and then up around Cerro Alegre.
Colorful houses while walking down from school
Check out the song "La Joya del Pacifico" it's all about different places in Valparaiso
Joel and I
It's been pretty cold the last few weeks and raining on and off, but that has yet to stop us from going out and exploring.
These pictures are from the other weekend when I went out with my friends from school on a little "tour" of Valpo. We walked all around and ended up checking out some abandoned buildings and then eating chaparritas (empanadas with a hot dog and cheese inside).
Jose, Morin, Paula, me and Manuel
Last week I went with my sister to her University. She goes to la Universidad Adolfo Ibanez (Link here to a video of the campus). First we went to a nearby lake (Laguna Sausalito) which was right next to Estadio Sausalito (soccer stadium which hosted a few games in the 2015 copa america), and then walked to her university ate lunch and she gave me a little tour.
Before coming to Chile I had been on exactly two college tours. One with my sister at a school that I was not even slightly interested in and she was looking at, and another that just happened to be on my way to a dance competition. For the past few months I have put off thinking about college tours, applications, test scores, GPA's and anything related to my senior year that starts when I get back. I know as soon as I go back to VT it will be a crazy rush to choose what I want to do and where I want to go, especially considering I haven't even started thinking about anything like that.
This University (like most in Vina/Valpo) doesn't have on campus housing. A lot of people live with their families through college and many times until their late 20's. If someone doesn't live close to the University, they have to move into an apartment in the city or find living separate from the school.
Not a great picture, but it had an awesome view of Vina
Fran and I
Flower crown we made
When I wrote this it was raining and very windy and we had just finished watching Chile tie with Australia, staying inside all day because it wasn't very nice out. In contrast today was in the high sixties all day and sunny.
Last Thursday they let us out of school early, and one of our teachers said it was because of the game. I went to the mall with my friends from school and we could hear everyone's reactions to Chile (la roja) scoring and then again when Germany scored.
It still fascinates me how big of a deal soccer is here (especially when the national team is playing). Last Sunday when la Roja was playing I was walking around with a friend and from the streets we could hear everyone cheering inside their houses. Complete with an airhorn and car horns from below. It was really cool knowing how many people were watching.
I spend a lot of time at my school, so I figured it be helpful to give a little background on what my days look like there.
To start off my school here is very different than Mount Mansfield, my school in Vermont. I go to a public school here called Instituto Tecnico Profesional Maritimo Valparaiso (Instituto Maritimo or IMV for short). My school in Vermont is also a public school, but with less than 800 students total, and most classes with less than 20 students.
The first apparent difference-- here is we all wear uniforms. In addition to this there is a strict dress-code that is enforced. Apart from the dress, sweater, blazer and other parts of the uniform we are required to wear lab coats during the day. A majority of the professors (all of mine except one) and staff also wear lab coats. The consequence for not wearing it is a "notacion negativo". You can also get a negative notation if you are wearing a sweatshirt or any clothes not "officially" part of the uniform. All girls also have to wear their hair back during all classes and can not wear make up. There is also a 'one piercing per ear' rule, and all other piercings are not allowed. In addition to this all of the guys have to have their hair cut short and "orderly" and nail polish is forbidden.
This "negative notation" is when a professor goes to your page in the class book and writes a comment about what rule you broke. This book is where they take attendance and have all of our grades. Each curso has a list in alphabetical order of the students, and each student has their number, (I'm 30). For example if you come into class late, the teacher asks you for your "number" and they write down that you were late. There exists also the opposite, "positive notations" where the professor leaves a note about something bueno you did.
Another thing I was struck by here was the openness with grades. What I mean by this is, our grades are read aloud in front of the whole class. Everyone knows how everyone else did on the test, who sacó un rojo (who failed) and who got the highest score. Sometimes they read the grades in order of worst to best, and sometimes they just read the list of who didn't pass. I haven't been uncomfortable with this (as my grades are actually the highest in my class), but I was expecting this to have negative results, turning into a competition, or making people feel bad about themselves, but I was really wrong. When we take a test here people move on pretty quickly and don't dwell on how they did or what grade they got, they're not too interested in what other people got and as long as they pass, everything is all good. This was a very cool change coming from a school with classmates who stressed out excessively over their grades and constantly focused on everything they did wrong.
The grades themselves here are on a scale of 1-7, 7 being the highest and equivalent to a 100. Everyone also has a "promedio" here, which is like a GPA, the average from all of your classes.
Another thing that legitimately shocked me was when our profe jefe made people "write lines". The second week of school there was a group in my class who didn't bring in materials for a project and they had to write "I should be responsible and bring in my materials" 100 times. Another time someone was on their phone in class and instead of taking away their phone, the teacher made them copy "I should not use my phone in class" 200 times. This has happened a few other times and it feels very old fashioned and doesn't seem like a productive punishment.
De vez en cuando (once in a while) we have "formacion" that serves a few purposes. Formation is when we all line up outside on the patio where we have recreo (I'll explain this later) by curso. Girls in one line, boys in another, shortest in the front.
Sometimes it's simply to check if everyone is following dress code and to write down names of those who are not. Other times it's for announcements. This is taken very seriously and our profe jefe's come up and down the line making sure everyone is silent and presentable.
Recreo means break, and that's exactly what it is. We go outside and have a little "recess". Normally my friends and I just hang out and talk during these breaks outside in the sun, but there are a lot of things you can do. A lot of people go to the library to do homework or finish projects, some go to the casino (cafeteria) to eat, some try to stay in the classrooms until the inspector shoos them out, but most hang out on the patio. The patio is a little paved basketball court outside and during recreos it fills with people playing tennis soccer, ping pong, jump roping and of course soccer.
Thanks to suggestions by students we now also have music playing over the speakers at all recreos (mostly reggaeton por supuesto!!). On a few occasions we have also had dance battles and rap battles, spontaneously started and then a crowd gathers just like in the movies.
Students also take advantage of our recreo time to sell different foods. It's not uncommon to see students selling, chocolates, candies, waffles, cupcakes, lollipops and really any type of sweet. This was a little strange at first, but it gives a lot of context to why everyone is always asking "tienes cien??".
We had one week that was "semana de convivencia" (coexistence week) which the entire week I thought was "semana de competencia" (competition week). This reminded me a lot of what my school does in VT, for a spirit week/winter carnival activity. As I've mentioned before each grade is split into 8 "cursos" (A-H) and during this week the cursos were paired with their same letter from the other grade (segundo D and primero D made up one team). Each of these teams competed all week against each other during recreos. Ranging from a dodgeball type game, to soccer tennis, to making poetry (with the theme of coexistence), to having the cleanest classroom, to decorating the patio in someway, to flash challenges, each team was awarded points.
The flash challenges were my favorite and these were when a teacher would say something like "The first group to bring me the principal's signature wins 200 points".
Other tasks included:
I'm taking eleven classes here and our schedule is pretty much the same as my school in VT. We start at 8:00 and finish at 3:15, (except for Wednesdays when we end at 1, and some Tuesdays when we end at 5). We go through material a lot slower here, because for example I only have biology, physics, chemistry, and environmental science each once a week, where as in the US I would only be taking one of those asignaturas, but with classes every other day.
Classes are just like normal classes, except we start every class standing to greet our teacher and we can't sit until they tell us to sit down.
One thing that strikes me as odd is teachers dictate here. They don't hand out worksheets with questions on them, instead they say the questions or information and we have to write it down. This is a really good way to practice my spelling and accuracy with what they say. I had a physics test the other day that was completely listening to what the teacher said and writing down problems and descriptions.
Related to that I have a few teachers here who use little microphones while they're teaching. It's a big classroom and there are a lot of us noisy students, so for some of them this is the easiest way to be heard.
Sports My school has a long list of "talleres" including some really cool things: Harp, Violin, Kayak, Scuba diving, soccer, basketball, theater, chorus, "hip-hop", band, orchestra. Each of these meet once a week, so if you really wanted to you could do a few at the same time.
My school is pretty special in the sense that it's a professional (also called technical) school. Primero and Segundo medios (freshman and sophomores) are in one building taking normal classes and tercero and cuarto medio (juniors and seniors) are in a separate building with a pretty cool schedule. They have normal classes two days a week and the other three they are out either in businesses or out in the field actually learning first hand how things work.
There are five "career options", Gastronomia (Gastronomy), Operaciones Portuatias (Port related careers), mechanica automotriz (Mechanics), quimica laboratorio (Chemistry), and elaboracion industrial de alimentos (learning about food and what goes into it).
I think this is pretty interesting and sounds like a cool way to spend your junior and senior year, but it puts pressure on the students to chose what they want to do at a really young age. On the first day of school I was the only one who didn't know what I want to do after school, or what I want to be, and I'm a year older than all of my classmates.
The last thing I want to talk about is the stigma about public schools here. Even before I got here, I heard a lot about how "bad" public schools in Chile are, and how it would be better to go to a private school. When I got here someone warned me that my classmates would have knives and there would be drugs everywhere and multiple people told me time and time again that I should "be careful" in school and around my classmates. When ever I told someone that I was going to a public school they immediately assumed that there would not be good education there and that all of the students would be stupid. Coincidentally every single person who told me a story about a public school, or warned me that it might be not a good scene, went to a private school.
I would just like to make it clear to all of those people that I have had zero problems in my school and I absolutely love Maritimo and could not be happier here. There is definitely a large range of students who go to IMV, as far as social and financial situations, but I feel that this experience has been so much more real, with real students who represent more of the population in Valparaiso than a tiny private school with just people who have money.
That said, IMV is very good for a municipal school, and there are many people who want to got here for the career options it has. I was talking to one of my friend's friend (who goes to a private school) and she told me that she wanted to go to IMV and it's the best technical school in the area.
On a related note while walking around with one of my exchange student friends (in our school uniforms) a lady approached us on the street to ask if we were from Chile. We then had a little discussion about how no we actually are going to high schools here, and we're staying for five months. She made a comment about how I was going to Maritimo, something along the lines of "wow you're really getting the real deal, normally when exchange students come they stay in the sections with $$, but good for you, you're getting the real deal".
That conversation made me feel really proud, because I am the first long term exchange student to go to Maritimo and as she pointed out, I was "getting the real deal", the real Valpo.
School has been a big part of my life here, it's where I met most of my friends and I've learned a lot here (not actual school stuff, more general stuff). I never really dreaded going to school in the US, but it's really a refreshing feeling waking up in the morning excited to go to school. I don't feel stressed if I don't understand a homework, or don't finish a project in time.
It's a little weird to think that my friends back home are taking their final exams right now, and have taken the SAT, ACT and have been visiting colleges while I'm here trying not to think about any of that.
Below are a few links if you find yourself inclined to see a little more Maritimio
When this post is published, exactly one month will remain for my time here in Chile. When published it will be 7:40pm June 16th. At 7:40pm on July 16th I will board a plane with my mom to Atlanta, Georgia. I try not to reminisce about my time here, yet it still happens. In my final post I know I will have much more to say about my time here, how hard it will be to leave, and also how good it will be to get back to my family and friends. But at the moment I don't know exactly how it will feel. I will be the first to tell you that I have not made the greatest relationships or had the greatest abroad experience, but for the past four months I have set up and lived a routine, I have become accustomed to the ins and outs of Chile and its people, and leaving any situation like that will be hard. Yet "hard" is not an emotion and part of that I think makes me scared. As humans we generally like to know what situations we will be in and what feelings will come from those. For the most part we are able to receive this type of information. If we want to what it's like to go to high school or college we can ask our parents or an older sibling. Yet going abroad is not as easy. Not only is it fairly unlikely that your parents or siblings have done it, but even if they have, their experience will not be the same as yours. They will have stayed in a different country, with a different family, and gone to a different school. And in this way studying abroad is so unique. At a relatively young age it gives you the chance to see a new part of the world and meet new people, while at the same time forcing you to face the innate fear of the unknown. As my time here draws to a close I still have that fear but getting over it starts with the ability to recognize it.
I am not trying to count the days down to my departure, although perhaps the title of this post shows the opposite, but I know as the quantity dwindles to only a handful it will be necessary or the fact that I'm leaving will be lost upon me, and to be honest that is not something I want.
To make up for the writing here's a cool picture of sailboat I took a while back. Manned by a single person it goes sailing into the sunset and perhaps the unknown.
Until next time...NRH