2018 Spring Chile External Programs IFSA Morgan Rock

The Highs and the Lows

Sometimes when you’re studying abroad, especially for a whole year like myself, you’re reminded of everything you’re missing back home.

For example, I just missed my little brother’s high school graduation. Every part of me wanted to be there, but the reality is I couldn’t. And that’s okay. Even though I couldn’t make it to his graduation, and I won’t be there to help move him into his first dorm, or there to help him through his first scary semester of college, it’s okay. The fear of missing out on things like this and, even the less important things like parties and birthdays, is something that I’ve been trying to deal with, reminding myself that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s okay.

I think that this is especially difficult in today’s world with everything on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter; it’s even harder to avoid that feeling of missing out. Everyone looks like they’re having such a good time and they’re always with people and it makes you sad. It makes you wonder if you did the right thing leaving all your friends and family. It’s not to say that you don’t make new friends along the way by studying abroad, but it’s always hard not to compare things to home.

I think, like many students, I skimmed through the pre-travel material that you have to read, not really taking any of it to heart. It’s the feeling of invincibility that tricks you, telling you that of course you can do this, it’s not that hard. But sometimes it can be really difficult, and that’s okay. You just have to endure and put yourself out there and, in the end, it’s still an unforgettable experience. I’m loving my study abroad experience, and getting through some of these not-so-picture-perfect moments has definitely made me stronger as a person.

The bright side of this all is that is has also made me appreciate all the good parts even more. For everything that I’m missing, I’m receiving a different experience in return. Sometimes it’s a freshly-fried empanada filled with the perfect combination of spinach, tomato, corn, and cheese. Other times it’s enjoying yet another beautiful Valparaiso sunset, featuring every shade imaginable.

Despite a couple low points during the semester, I am beyond grateful that I’m staying for a full year down here (that’s right, I have another whole semester left!). At this point, I can’t imagine leaving Valpo. It’s really become my new home, and I’ve definitely been putting off buying my return ticket home, knowing that buying that ticket will make my departure feel even closer. In the meantime, I plan to take advantage of the rest of my time down here and enjoy my last semester in Chile.

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