Saludos a todos!
I’m currently sitting in my bed waiting for the Chile vs. Bolivia game to get started. I don’t know how much more Chilean I can get.
Unlike most of my previous posts, I haven’t really conceptualized a theme for this post. I guess I’ll just start writing and see where I go.
I’m definitely a lot more settled into Chile now than I was in the past. Taking a sports class was a great decision, as I’ve made some friends who I’m definitely going to miss through that class. I’ve found myself picking out foreigners on the metro and understanding conversations composed almost entirely of Chilenismos. The other week, at my volunteer opportunity, I was able to tell a 7-year-old to stop using curse words (ones that he obviously thought I wouldn’t know). I’ve found my comfort zones here, but have also started exploring more.
Regardless, I still have my ups and downs. I’ve been studying abroad, in two different countries, for ten months now and the transition was kind of difficult for me. Sometimes I don’t even realize when I get in a homesick slump. I generally have an emotional moment, pull myself together, and remind myself what a fantastic opportunity I’ve been granted. After a good night’s sleep, the next day is always rosy.
The study abroad staff wasn’t joking when they talked about the “study abroad rollercoaster.” It’s a real thing. There’s good days and bad days. Some days, everything will be rosy, others, things that never bother you will seem like the biggest problems in the world, you’ll be moody and irritable and not be able to explain why. This difference is the most exaggerated at first, but after the first couple of weeks, the roller coaster will continue, just not as frequently or as intensely. The important thing is to recognize when it’s happening and stop yourself before a homesick slump spirals out of control.
Yeah, I’ve struggled with transitioning between countries, cultures and languages, but I wouldn’t trade the experience I’ve been having here for anything. I love Chile. Yeah, the country has its problems. The people will be some of the first to tell you that, and they’ll give you varying versions of what Chile’s problems are, be it a patriarchal society, obesity, consumerism, or racism, Chileans are more than willing to talk about their experiences within their society to a willing student. Not only that, but they’re willing to share. Chileans may be shy, but once a Chilean invites you to do something with them, you’ve been invited into their world. They’ll share drinks, friends, study time, laughs; essentially whatever needs to be shared without a second thought.
Not only that, but the country itself is beautiful. Our group went hiking last weekend, and as we climbed above the smog, I was reminded just how beautiful this place is. In a relatively small country, they literally have everything, and the celebrate this uniqueness. Within the layers of smog of Santiago, it’s easy to forget how spectacular Chile’s mountain ranges really are, but they’re splendid, a sight that needs to be taken advantage of.
So, as I head into finals, a time when a slump is almost inevitable, this is what I’m going to try to remember: how spectacular this country is. I stumbled into Chile without really knowing much about it and found a gem. So, when I’m sleep-deprived and stressed, this is what I’ll be remembering, how many incredible experiences I’ve had and how many more I can still have.