Hello everyone! I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, so I guess my ten hour flight from Toronto to Santiago is as good a time as ever for me to finally get it done! Here are my goals and overall expectations for my year abroad in Santiago, Chile. Brace yourselves, this could be a long one…
There are a few things that I hope to gain from this experience.
First, I want to be fully immersed in the Chilean culture. I want to learn all about the history of Chile, what people do for fun, what the local food is like, what music they like to dance to… ALL OF IT! Of course, I’ll be able to learn about this by doing touristy things and taking classes at school, but a lot of aspects that set cultures apart from each other are subtleties that can only be picked up by living in a place for an extended period of time. I hope ten months is long enough to understand a new culture and live comfortably in it like it’s my second home.
My second major goal is to improve my understanding of the Spanish language. I’ve studied Spanish for the past two years at Carleton but learning a language in a classroom is nothing like speaking it in the real world. What’s more, the Chilean accent is one of the hardest types of Spanish to learn. By the end of my year abroad I want to have the confidence to carry on a conversation in Spanish, have the vocabulary necessary to speak spontaneously, and most importantly, have no need for that lovely Google Translate app on my phone.
My third and final goal, is to try to live in the present as much as possible. To seize every opportunity, to explore new places, try new foods, and meet new people. I’m sure I’ll have FOMO (fear of missing out) about what my friends and family are doing back home, but I don’t want that to hold me back from the once-in-a-lifetime experiences I’m about to have. As the well-marketed athletic brand once said: JUST DO IT.
I’ve never been one to set crazy expectations before embarking on a new adventure. I usually just go with the flow and accept whatever life throws at me. I don’t judge people before I meet them, nor do I act like I know a place before I’ve been there. People have told me that this is a rare trait to hold – to be completely open-minded to whatever happens next. However, here are some rapid-fire expectations since I’m sure someone won’t accept my “no expectations” state of mind.
- People: I think most people will be kind and helpful. I’m afraid they won’t all have the patience to deal with my broken Spanish in the beginning, which might make it difficult to make friends. I realize my housemates will all be in the same boat as me, but the thought of making friends in a new place is still scary for me!
- Places: Everything is going to be breathtaking and I don’t expect anything less. Come on, this country is home to Patagonia, the Atacama Desert, Easter Island, and towns like Viña del Mar and Valparaiso!!
- Food: I have no clue what to say for this one. Do they eat a lot of seafood because they’re on the pacific coast? I hope so! Looking forward to blogging about tons of new dishes and flavours while I’m there.
- Challenges: Chilean Spanish. Enough said.
What am I most excited about?
So many people have asked me this question. To give you an extremely general answer, I’m excited to learn.
There’s nothing like an international experience to remind us how incredibly diverse our world is, and how little we truly know about it. I’m excited to learn about Chile and Latin America. I’m excited to learn SPANISH. REAL SPANISH.
I’m excited to learn about the people I’ll be living with and where they’re from. Heck, I’m even excited to learn everything in the classes I’ll be taking at UAI! Is this a cheesy answer? Yes, but I’m sticking to it!
If you’ve read to this point, I applaud you. I always forget how much I love to write until I get going, and then I can’t stop! I’m so excited for what my exchange has in store and I can’t wait to share it with you. Thanks for reading!
Alexa Bordage is a third-yearBachelor of International Business student who is studying abroad in Chile.
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