On Walking into One’s First Discotheque Blindfolded; Or, Meet the English Major Going to Valparaiso
My name is Anjelais (Anjie for short) and I am leaving San Francisco, CA for Chile in five days. I could not feel more simultaneously prepared and unprepared for this journey.
I have never been to South America before. This will also be my first time being abroad for a period of time longer than three weeks.
I have never had to use my Spanish on a daily basis before. In fact, I’m an English major. For now, at least. Perhaps my experiences this semester will change that.
I have not extensively studied Chile. I don’t know all that much about the political history of the nation, or how tall the Andes really are, or what shape the schools are in. Part of the draw of Chile to me is this: I will be somewhere I know next to nothing about, and I will leave knowing much more—probably more than most Americans.
Going to Chile like this—essentially as a blank slate and a tongue-tied gringa—must be a little like walking into one’s first discotheque blindfolded. Imagine it: The unrecognizable dance gyrations (all you know is that people keep bumping into you), the mosh pit that seems to consume every corner of whatever open space is there (you can’t even tell how big the place is), the drunken cheers (or, what you think are cheers) and the singing along to songs (well, what you think are songs) you don’t know…Chaos.
I am flying non-stop (and red-eyed) into what, for me, will most likely be complete chaos. And I can’t wait for it to begin.
Perhaps masochistically, I crave adventure and challenge. The discomfort that will come with being forced to speak in my imperfect Spanish and with navigating an unfamiliar terrain is of the utmost importance to me. After all, it is only when one is uncomfortable that one can grow. And oh, all the places I will go along the way! There are parks and deserts and mountains and beaches and ports and cities and neighboring countries and…
…And, of course, I will go to school. Perhaps three different schools. In beautiful (from what I can tell so far) Valparaiso.