I was very nervous for my semester abroad in Chile. Although I had already traveled extensively abroad – and even lived in Latin America – this was the first time I was going to be traveling in another country by myself. I was also nervous because I was not sure how my Spanish would fare in Chile. One of the reasons that I chose to come to Chile is to improve my Spanish (which was my first language). However, it has been over four years since I last took a Spanish course. After experiencing a bit of difficulty on my arrival in Santiago going through immigration and customs, all the fears that I had were intensified. As a result, when I checked into my hotel, I ended up locking myself in my room for a few hours. Then, I finally mustered up the courage to go out into the city and explore.
When I ultimately ventured into the new, foreign city, I found that… I absolutely loved it! It was such an amazing and liberating experience, knowing that I could explore and navigate through the city at my leisure. It greatly lifted my confidence. I walked around downtown, had dinner, and even enjoyed the serene nature in a big park near my hotel. Although I still struggled with the Spanish (especially because Chileans speak very quickly), I found it to be quite an incredible time. I even got a beautiful view of the whole city!
The following morning, I met my Resident Director and fellow student (yes, there is only one other student attending my university in my program) for API at the airport. After briefly acquainting ourselves, we boarded a van that drove us to Viña Del Mar, my host city. Over the next two days, I was oriented with Viña, as well as Valparaíso, the neighboring port city. Finally, I got to move with my Chilean host family. I was rather anxious at first, but I have come to really love them. I only live with two people, a host mom and a host brother, but they have already made me feel like part of their family.
Just last week, I started my classes and have found that I love all of my professors and have adjusted quite nicely to the Chilean education system. I have made many friends (both local and exchange students) and am very happy here. Now that I have seen a little bit of what Chile has to offer, I know that I have found a new home here.