Hola From Chile

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I’ve been in Chile for about three weeks, and I can easily say that this journey is already one of the hardest and more rewarding experiences of my life. Since I have slacked on my blogging duties, I have decided to write two consecutive posts. This post will detail my arrival and transition into Chilean life; whereas, my second post will describe my school and social life here in Chile.

I arrived in Chile on July 25, 2014. I knew that I would have to speak in Spanish

almost 24/7 during my semester; however, this language transition did not hit me until I had to get a taxi. The woman at the desk said “hola” and I froze for a good five seconds trying to figure out what to say. After the initial shock, I pulled myself together and managed to order a taxi, find the right taxi car outside the airport, and make it in one piece to my hostel. Now in regards to my hostel, Hostal Forestal, lets just say internet photos can be deceiving. However the staff was extremely nice and helpful!

Now if y’all didn’t already know, I am the only McCombs student who went on an exchange to Santiago, Chile. BUT I was connected to student from The University of Washington-Seattle, Kiersten, who was attending the same program as me. We “officially” met when she arrived in the hostel, and I am eternally grateful to be on this adventure with her. Since we are both blonde and light eyed (blue & green), we get a lot of attention when we walk out on the street or take the metro. Men will “cat call” at us, and they say things like “que linda”, “los ojos”, and other silly phrases. We have gotten pretty good at ignoring them.

Kiersten and I decided that we were going to find permanent housing when we arrived in Chile. This has definitely been the most stressful period of my time in Chile. We had both gotten advice from friends and locals on where to look for housing, but we unfortunately ran into many dead ends. It took a week full of hours of computer searching, multiple taxi trips because we got lost, and lots of determination before we actually found our house. We live in a nine bedroom house in the Providencia commune of Santiago. I live with 4 Chileans, 1 Belgium guy, 1 French girl, and Kiersten. It is definitely an experience, especially with the nine keys. Yes, I said nine keys….. [1 for bedroom, 1 for kitchen, 3 for back entrance, 3 for front entrance]

Before I end this post, I’d like to comment on the Chilean way of greeting. When say hello or goodbye, you always kiss the person on the cheek. Men will usually give each other a handshake, but if they are very close, they kiss as well. It is definitely a more personal form of greeting, and this took me a while to get use to.

 

Go abroad Spring 2015

Many of our partner universities are still open for Spring 2015 semester exchange! Application Deadlines vary per Location.

spring

Upcoming deadlines

September 1st

  • St. Gallen in Switzerland
  • Thammasat in Thailand
  • ANU in Australia
  • Otago in New Zealand

September 15th 

  • NUS in Singapore
  • Bath in England
  • HKUST in Hong Kong

September 20th

  • WHU Otto in Germany

September 25th

  • CUHK in Hong Kong
  • BI Norway in Norway

 

 

 

5 Things I Learned During Study Abroad That Didn’t Occur in the Classroom

I’ve been back in Texas from my semester abroad in Sydney, Australia for almost a week now and some things have settled right back into place (like that sweet Texan accent), and others not so much…. I find myself still wanting to drive on the left side of the road, turning on the windshield wipers instead of the blinker, still operating on a 24-hour clock rather than 12, and still not accustomed to the Texas summer heat (I don’t know how I ever did it…). There are things I missed about Texas that I have happily indulged in since my return, such as my friends and family, BBQ, Whataburger, and sweet tea, but after only a week back at home, my heart is already yearning for that land down under. This is an emotion I’m sure many study abroad students find themselves experiencing after coming home. As I have had time to reflect on my 5 months living abroad, there are a couple valuable things I learned…that didn’t occur in the classroom. Here are just a few:

  1. You learn to appreciate other countries and cultures.

By nature, most of the people I hung out with and made friends with in Australia were other study abroad students. Before arriving in Sydney, I was looking forward to meeting Australians and spending time mostly with them. I did meet many wonderful Aussies who I will remain in contact with, but I also now have a network of great friends literally all over the world. During my semester in Sydney, both the Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup took place, so our melting pot of cultures got really competitive! (In the most fun and friendly way.) You pick up on little things, phrases, accents, languages, tendencies, etc. your friends from other countries do, and listen to what they have to say about their homeland. It makes you want to visit their country, also guaranteeing that you will be seeing them again in the future. I learned most about the Australian culture and ways of life since that’s where I was living, studying, and traveling for 5 months, but I also learned much from my other friends from Germany, Poland, Spain, England, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, France, Mexico, Chile, China, and Canada. Just by being abroad, you expose yourself to so many things that make you appreciate and admire other countries and cultures.

  1. You learn to appreciate your own country and culture.

Last summer, I studied abroad in Hong Kong with a McCombs summer program, so I had been away from the United States for a long (ish) amount of time before. Both last summer and this past semester abroad have made me appreciate the States so much more. We become so accustomed to a 24-hour lifestyle that does not exist in other countries, something I realize I took for granted. I had to get used to going to the store before 6pm when everything closed. There also aren’t 50 fast food places on one street to choose from; there are MAYBE 2. And there’s no Walmart. (What?! A land without Walmart??) Prices are sky high in Sydney, which definitely made me appreciate American prices more, and although Sydney has great cuisine, I missed good ol’ Tex Mex and BBQ. *Sidenote: An Aussie barbecue is nothing at all like an American barbecue. Sausage in a slice of bread won’t cut it in Texas.*

  1. You learn to not sweat the small things.

Being abroad makes you realize that a lot of what you thought matters in life, actually doesn’t. You find that happiness comes from your experiences, your travels, the people around you, good food, and things you can’t buy. It doesn’t come from your clothes, vehicle, name brand purses, your last name, who you know, or even your grades. I spent three days and nights camping in a sleeping bag under the Milky Way in the center of Australia in freezing temperatures, and that was one of my absolute favorite things I did my entire 5 months there. I scuba dove the Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s winter in super choppy waters and still had the time of my life. For both trips, I had everything I needed in one backpack. No nice clothes, no make-up – hardly anything – and those were two of my most treasured experiences and unforgettable moments of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I missed a bus last semester (although not always my fault, because Sydney has an awful public transport system), been late to things I would’ve hated being late to in America, and changed my plans last minute…and guess what? It didn’t matter. The Aussies are easygoing and live at a relaxed pace. There’s a thing or two we could learn from them, starting with three little words. Say it with me now: “No worries, mate.”                  Speaking of public transportation, that brings me to my next point….

  1. You learn how to navigate a public transportation system, perhaps for one of the largest cities in the world.

Nothing makes you grow up faster than moving out of the country and starting a life somewhere completely new (even if just for a semester). Facing challenges such as opening a bank account, finding a phone service, and especially learning a new public transport system, all on your own teaches you so much. No one is going to do it for you, but there are a lot of people there to help you. As I said, I’ve missed a bus (or train) many times, taken the WRONG bus, and got lost in the city more than once. But by the middle of my semester, I knew which buses went where, what time certain buses stopped running, which type of bus ticket I needed, etc. It came with experience, and from making mistakes. But it was always an adventure, and I know it’s the same for anyone in a new, big city. McCombs has exchange program affiliates in so many countries across the world! Go get lost in one. It undoubtedly can get aggravating, but it’s an adventure all the while.

  1. The fifth and final thing I learned outside of the classroom during study abroad is that most of the learning during study abroad does happen outside of the classroom. It’s meant to.

I learned history, art, music, global studies, economics, physics, foreign language, business skills, government, architecture and more, all during my exchange, all outside of the classroom. I would even venture to say that I learned more valuable information and lessons this past semester abroad than I have during any of my previous five semesters of college. People who study abroad don’t typically go for the actual classes they’ll be taking or the university they’ll be attending; they go for the experience. And the vast number of things you learn along the way is both astounding and natural, and I can guarantee that rather than learning them and forgetting them next semester, they are things you’ll remember for a lifetime.

 

So wherever you go and whatever you do, remember that life is a beautiful journey. Not all your most important learning in life happens inside a classroom. And whenever you’re out there in this big world, remember to “just keep swimming,” and everything will be (as the Aussies say) “sweet as.”

Contributor Ashley McAdams

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