Over the past few months in Chile I’ve had trouble keeping up with all that I have been learning, it seems like I have been experiencing something new and adventurous and eye-opening every day. Now that the semester is over, I have time to reflect on these experiences.While I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to take classes at a prominent university, I’ve found that the most profound, the most moving knowledge and experience have happened outside of it. Here are some highlights:
- For the past four months, I’ve lived with a host family consisting of a mother, father, twins (brother/sister), three dogs, and four cats along with another student from the University of Florida. Despite the crowd, it’s been a uniquely calming experience. They’ve welcomed us into their family like their own children and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in Chile.
- In September, Viña del Mar hosted an international film festival. I managed to work as a volunteer, helping coordinate schedule of producer meetings and with translation and got to meet a lot of cool people in the South American film industry. Additionally, the closing ceremony after party took place in a castle on a hill by the beach, had an open bar, and was on the night of my 21st Needless to say, it was a fun time.
- In addition to regular classes, the University of Adolfo Ibáñez offers talleres (workshops) that meet once a week and don’t give grades. It was a great way to study interesting subjects with local students in a low-pressure environment. I took talleres in photography and creative literature.
- My friendships here, including teachers, students and travelers from Chile, Europe, and the Americas have been more enriching than I could have imagined, exposing me to countless different backgrounds, points of view, and collections of knowledge. I’m most sad to leave them behind.
- Over the past four months, in addition to getting to know Viña del Mar and Valpairiso, I’ve been able to hike the Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu, surf along the Chilean coast, beach hop around Uruguay, hike La Campana (a mountain from which one can see the Andes mountain range and the Pacific Ocean), camp at a secluded beach that looks like it was ripped off of a travel agent’s motivational poster, and see the quaint southern town of Valdivia. Next week I’ll be in Chilean Patagonia for my final trip, and I feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface of South America.
I can’t believe my time here is running out so soon and am already looking forward to coming back to explore more of this amazing continent.