February 1, 2017. It was like any other Canadian winter morning. I walked downstairs to eat breakfast with my dad – we were going to meet my sister and mom for lunch before going to the airport. Before meeting them, my mom insisted that I get a haircut before I leave – moms being moms. She was right though, and I badly needed one. So accompanied by my dad, we went to the hairdresser, each took a seat beside one another and got our haircuts. Now looking fresh, we left to meet them. Walking out of the salon, I was hit by the ice-cold wind and the unforgettable -20 degree weather that I longed to get away from. This was the start of my last day in Canada, and I couldn’t have asked for a better last day at home.
After a delicious lunch at a newly discovered Vietnamese restaurant, I said bye to my sister. We dropped her off back at university and made our way to the airport. We arrived a little early and with time to kill, we found a place at the bar. We had one last beer, chatted and enjoyed. It was perfect – no exaggeration. With each sip, time seemed to sneak up on us faster and faster, and before I knew it, it was time to go.
Through the gates I go. Next thing I know the captain comes over the PA system, “cabin-crew arm doors and prepare for take-off.” Just like that, I’m starting my highly anticipated exchange.
A pit stop in Toronto, I am met by Ryan, another BIB student off to Chile for his exchange. Better yet, he is my travel companion through Bolivia. I hadn’t seen Ryan since exams in first semester and when I saw him again, I couldn’t hold in my excitement. We rallied each other up, played on each other’s excitement and it made for the best start of what will be a great year.
Hand-in-hand (figurative but some truth in it too) Ryan and I arrived in Santiago ready to take the city by storm. Ryan went to a hostel he had arranged beforehand. I went to my host family’s house to settle in.
Calgary –> Toronto –> Santiago. I made it. I left my family, picked up a friend and made it.
I couldn’t have asked for a better last day at home; I couldn’t have asked for a better first day away.
Zach is a Bachelor of International Business student who is currently studying abroad in Santiago, Chile.