Please forgive that this post is a day late. Oops.
September 18th always brings two words to mind: Fiestas Patrias, the Chilean holiday. Now, this wasn’t always the case. Growing up, I really didn’t know anything about Chile. I think I dressed up like a “typical” Chilean for some school culture project in fourth grade… or wait. I’m pretty sure I was a gaucho from Argentina, not Chile, but I’m not sure (a little help, Mom? Bonus points if you have pictures of awkward Jessica with those awesome huge glasses and buck teeth). I even pronounced Chile like the comfort-food soup chili. Ah, the shame.
Thankfully this all turned around while I was in college and decided to study abroad and eventually chose to go to Vina del Mar in Chile. For any college students out there: please please please consider studying abroad. I know I’m not alone when I say that studying abroad was the best experience from my college career (apart from meeting my husband, of course). I learned how to get around a new country all on my own while speaking Spanish filled with “cachai”, “poh”, and “bakan.” I was able to see a different part of the world and be part of a beautiful culture. I made my faith my own and found a wonderful church to go to for my five months in Chile. I learned how to do a long distance relationship with Chip. I made some truly wonderful friends with other students in my program. These friendships run deep and I am so thankful for them. I had one friend surprise me for my 21st birthday my senior year at Trinity and had a couple of super awesome girls come to our wedding three years ago.
I was lucky to study abroad in Chile during Fiestas Patrias, which meant several days off from school. My friend Caitlin and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to travel to the Atacama Desert in the northern area of Chile, the driest non-polar desert in the world. After looking at travel options, we decided to take a 24-hour bus ride instead of fork over a little extra money for a flight. That’s right, 24 hours. Thankfully we had some movies on our bus (with no audio, but were accompanied by our own commentary) to watch and some wonderful 90s sing alongs to keep us entertained (a favorite was I’ll Stand By You). We were meeting a couple of other friends up in the Atacama Desert and had a great time exploring the driest desert in the world.
And now prepare for more Chile photos because now I’ve become plenty nostalgic on this wonderful and at times challenging semester abroad. Here are a couple of other more luxurious blog posts on Chile that I’ve loved reading from Lesley Murphy and Ker & Downey. Please let me know if/where you studied abroad or if you’ve ever visited Chile before! Viva Chile!