As the days are getting shorter and colder, my trip to Chile is quickly approaching. I’m studying abroad in Valparaíso, Chile for almost a year – from February to December. Some days it feels a little overwhelming and scary, but I know I’m going to love it. I’ve always dreamed of studying abroad somewhere in Latin America. It seems so foreign and almost magical. The colors, the music, the people – it has everything that my rural Pennsylvania hometown didn’t.
Valparaíso is described by some as the cultural capital of Chile. It’s known for its urban art and super vibrant music scene. In a way, it has some of the same characteristics that drew me to Temple and, by extension, Philadelphia when I was just a confused junior in high school. Even though I’m leaving this beautiful city and university for an entire year, I’m a proud Temple student. I’m in the College of Liberal Arts, and I’m double-majoring in Spanish and Political Science. Last semester, I was enrolled in the Latin American Studies Semester at Temple, and we took a three-week trip to Costa Rica mid-semester; it was that very trip that made me realize that I had all these opportunities right at my fingertips, and I wasn’t even taking advantage of them.
With Temple’s almost endless selection of study-abroad programs, the only difficulty I encountered last spring was trying to choose which country I wanted to go to! Of course, I ended choosing Valparaíso, but it was a difficult decision to make. Now, all of that seems so far away.
Studying abroad seems a little scary with all the paperwork and forms you have to do, but I think that often people neglect to talk about the emotional and mental prep work. It’s like an emotional roller coaster in the months preceding your departure. It’s full of second-guessing yourself and playing out the worst-case scenarios in your head. It’s wondering if your friends will forget about you when you’re gone. It’s desperately Googling to see if there’s any sushi or pizza places in the town you’ll be living.
But this isn’t to say that it’s all bad. This emotional roller coaster has had a lot of ups, too! I’m so incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity to live in a foreign country for a year. I’m excited for the friends and relationships I will form in Chile. I’m eager to meet my host family and, even more importantly, their dog!
I leave this Monday – just three short days from today – and this much-anticipated adventure is becoming even more tangible. Even though I’m going to miss my Temple family, I know it’s just the start of a new and different chapter of my life, and I can’t wait!
Peace out, Philly – I’ll miss you more than you can ever imagine.