Hey all, my name is Simon Hoellerbauer and I will be studying in Chile – in Santiago, specifically – this semester. I am a Modern Languages (Russian and Spanish) and Political Science double major at Kenyon College. In less than a week, I will be in Chile to start orientation, and I don’t know what to feel, really. The 24th – the day I leave for Chile – is coming ever closer. I am tremendously excited, that I do know. I can’t wait. The anticipation is thick enough to cut with a knife, if you’re into mixing clichés. Or clichés in general. But I’m nervous too. While I have been abroad before, this is still the great unknown for me. I technically know what to expect, or I should, at least, considering the excellent information with which IFSA-Butler has provided me. But I don’t really. I know that I have picked a great program, and I am really looking forward to taking classes with Chilean students and to getting wrapped up in the culture, but I’m still a bit weary on how it will all turn out. I have been trying to prepare myself for this day for a while now, but life has a way of keeping one busy, making that difficult. I still haven’t fully grasped, I think, the reality that I will be leaving home for five months to live and study in a foreign country.
But enough about that and on to more entertaining things. I am definitely taking too much with me. I have already packed two suitcases and stuffed a backpack full of odds and ends that I may or may not need, and I keep stumbling across things that I think would be a great idea to take with me. Considering there are few days to go before I leave, I am worried that I’ll end up carting a truckload to the airport. Everything just looks so useful!
I’m also frantically trying to brush up on my Spanish, which I haven’t spoken since I went home for the summer. I worked as a RA for a German language academy this past month and simply never got the chance to practice. I’ve also heard that Chilean Spanish is very fast and uses a lot of words different from those usually taught in college Spanish courses, My sister, who studied in Chile when she was in college, also gave me a book of Chilean Spanish vocabulary, which I have been leafing through a lot these past few days, trying to pick up as much as possible. I’ll be able to tell you all about how much that helped me in a few days – or maybe a few weeks!