As I passed the two-month marker of my semester abroad, I entered a rut: one that can only be described as complacency. I had become complacent with a schedule that did not leave me excited to leave my bed. I went to classes and paid very minimal attention, if any. I just went through the motions. I was losing steam, I was losing interest in discovering this country, and worst of all I began to look at Chile for what it was not. Chile wasn’t home. It wasn’t my friends, my family, my college professors, or my campus. It wasn’t my mom’s home cooking. I entered a never-ending cycle that I needed to break. I needed to figure out how to reset while abroad.
Planning a reset
I planned a trip out of the city to reset myself, and it was everything I needed. After a quick WhatsApp message with the bus company (a completely normal thing to do apparently), I was able to change my bus tickets and be off for one whole week!
After six days of exploring southern Chile, I can say that it was the perfect way to reset and fall in love with the country once again. Santiago is located in central Chile and in many ways is the opposite of southern Chile. Southern Chile is plagued with constant rain, fresh air, cool nights, high winds, and a vibrant green landscape. I spent my days exploring different towns, going on hikes, and finding daily things to get excited about.
Although constant downpours hindered me from seeing my first volcano, it did not stop me from experiencing my first natural thermal baths or hiking through a National Park. The rain soaked my clothes, and for most of the hike, it interrupted the trails by creating little rivers. I hadn’t pushed myself physically in a long time, and I was rewarded by some amazing lake and waterfall views.
My next stop was the coastal town of Valdivia, where I spent hours starring at the seals beg in the harbor behind seafood vendors. It was a whole eco-system. Bad fish or fish parts that customers did not want to buy would end up being thrown into the harbor to a crowd of waiting seals and birds to eat the bones. It was an awe-inspiring sight.
Back to work
Returning to Santiago after this magical week was a much-needed reset. Do I have a pile of assignments waiting for me to return? Absolutely! But now, the person who is completing these assignments is re-invigorated and flying through them. Moreover, I pushed myself to find the much-needed time to reset. This time was beyond necessary as now I get up excited, thirsty to learn, and my days fly by. This trip reminded me of the importance of listening to myself and hearing what I really needed. Also, it showed me how much I have learned and have left to learn in the next two months.
Now that I’ve learned how to reset while abroad, I wake up with a deeper love of the country I have chosen to learn and discover. And I’m even more excited to see where the next months lead me.
Beatrice Cabrera is a sociology and legal studies major at Bowdoin College and studied abroad with IFSA at the Chilean Universities Program in Santiago, Chile in spring 2019. She served as an International Correspondent through the IFSA First Generation Scholarship program.