Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Semi cama or salon cama?

I write this post from a bus going from the Island of Chiloe back to Santiago. This ride concludes a five day vacation to Southern Chile, specifically a region called Lake Districts. When I arrive tomorrow morning to Valpo after an overnight 14 hour bus ride and several buses before, I will be rudely awakened by four back to back classes and a week full of presentations and essays.

Throughout my semester in Valpo, I have two, maybe three, breaks from classes – one of which was this past Thursday and Friday. The day and a half break we were awarded was in honor of Semana Santa. The other primary break I have during the semester comes mid April, although half of it is dedicated to a five day IFSA trip to Patagonia to visit Mapuche communities. In contrast to the few breaks we have throughout the semester, I have a list of places I want to visit in Chile that is close to half a page. I am sadly forced to remind myself that in the end I am here to study, not solely vacation.

Despite the fact that there are a limited number of dedicated breaks, finding time to travel is quite easy due to a variety of reasons. Firstly, after several weeks of tweaking my schedule, I do not have classes on Monday or Friday. Many of my fellow gringos either have Monday or Friday off which means there are always people up for day trips or short excursions during my four day weekends. Secondly, many professors are used to having exchange students that travel a lot and are understanding of us missing classes. In tandem with this point, there are also much lower attendance requirements at my host universities. Many of my classes only require attendance to 80% of the classes, leaving my fellow gringos and me 4 or 5 class excuses. All of these reasons combined allow for fairly guilt free travel apart from occasionally having to do work on a 14 hour bus ride.

Apart from choosing which weekends to travel, picking travel companions also plays a prominent role. Smaller groups typically work better for traveling which means that not everyone can come along. That means that the primary person planning a trip can either individually approach people to invite them, or just throw the invite into the group chat and be content with the results. Everyone in our group gets along, but some personalities mesh together better than others. And when traveling to an exotic place for several days to a week, the more mesh the better.

There’s only 17 more hours of travel till I’m back in Valpo and am thrown back into the world of university. All of my traveling seems to be condensed into a single four week period. After Lollapalooza in Santiago last weekend and Lake districts this weekend I’llĀ have two weeks of classes until I head to Easter Island for five days and directly after to the Mapuche Excursion. After that, it’s two and a half straight months of just classes with no trips planned, with luck that will change.

Wish me luck,

PS: more IFSA gringo and Chilean quotes next week.


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