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Grateful, Happy, and Lonely

First 2 Weeks of a 4 Month Stay in Chile

sunny 32 °C
View Europe 2016-2017 on Bridgewater's travel map.

Exciting to live outside of your country, in a place very different from your home, right? People to meet, places to see, stimuli constantly proding at your brain begging to be let in.

Four months. For four months I get to live in another country. Torres Del Paine is all I knew of Chile before I found this study abroad program. Once I found it I read about the population of Santiago. It's between the size of New York City and LA. I had no idea this massive city existed in what appears to be a sliver of South America. I researched more about the diverse terrains. Forests, mountains, deserts, lakes, glaciers, and oceanside towns. I decided this is the place I want to live for four months to learn Spanish. This decision is based on easy access to outdoor adventure. My home university in Ohio requires students in the College of Arts and Letters, where psychology falls, to have four semesters of foreign language. I took Chinese in high school and pursued it again in college to fulfill this requirement; however, I did not pass Elementary Chinese II and convinced myself I just wasn't capable. Two years later I am in my senior year and in Chile to fulfill these credits on an intensive Spanish course. Four semesters compressed into one. This is very much due to my procrastination, but also hey I get to live in Chile for a semester. I am naive to set high expectations to paraglide in Iquique, ride horseback in the foothills of the Andes, trek Patagonia, sandboard in the Atacama Desert, and visit 5 nearby countries. Yet, I haven't readjusted these expectations. Not so much a relaxed semester there is 14 credits of Spanish to learn.

The first few days here were good, exhilarating even. The sense of freedom, roaming this massive city with newly made friends. My host mom, who doesn't speak English graciously makes me delicious food. We don’t communicate well, but enough to get by. Anytime I looked confused or clearly don't understand what she says to me she says, "don't worry, be happy mi reina (my queen)". Before classes started, it felt like a vacation. Spent money too freely as if I forgot I would be here for this extended amount of time. I was learning bits of Spanish on the go from my new friends and felt comfortable in this country where I don't speak its language. I have traveled a little bit before to non-English speaking countries. Once to Germany and Once to France to visit friends, and I don't speak German or French, so I wasn't overwhelmed when I entered this Spanish speaking country. However, foolishly, I didn't fully recognize the effort that would need to be put forth to learn a language at this accelerated rate until the first day of classes.

My mood changes quite often. One moment I feel determined and studious. The next, I feel wiped out and have no belief in myself that I will be able to learn at this rate, which is frustrating and stressful because I need these credits to graduate in December. One thing that doesn't change is my desire to learn, which can be a strong motivator. These past few days I have felt that I have been getting worse at using the little Spanish I know and not retaining vocabulary or grammar rules. I feel defeated and start to isolate myself only making myself feel worse, why do I do this!? When you're in a group of 45 students who you just met 14 days ago, there's no best friend you can turn to be honest with, without it changing their perception of you which is stressful and even more isolating. The super kind host mom you recently met who has done everything in her power to make you feel comfortable and happy is not someone you want to express these feelings of loneliness. A great big hug from each of my parents sounds like perfect comfort. If only they weren't thousands of miles away. Feelings are fleeting. Counting on yourself, I feel, is a necessary component of living life comfortably. This semester I hope to truly learn to do that.. and learn four semesters of Spanish.

Posted by Bridgewater 17:40 Archived in Chile Tagged travel spanish chile student abroad study lonlieness Comments (0)

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