Hola a todos!
First and foremost, thank you for all of your prayers and support throughout this past semester abroad in Chile. I arrived home last Sunday afternoon, safe and sound, after about 24 hours of traveling.
Prior to embarking on this journey, I set some objectives for myself as goals and reflections to look at upon completion of this trip and see what I have learned. These objectives focused on personal, academic, and professional goals, as well as community engagement. Upon reflection, I have found that I have completed or begun to accomplish the objectives I set for myself.
Personally, my objectives for the semester were:
- To develop relational skills among people of another culture
- To intentionally build interpersonal relationships with people of another culture
- To grow as an individual
- To grow in my relationship with God during the semester
Throughout my time abroad, I felt myself growing and stretching with each passing day. Everyday I was introduced to new experiences and opportunities to interact with people in my city, as it made daily life much easier and more enjoyable. I appreciated the opportunity to get to know local restaurant owners, fellow students, and my host family on deeper levels as I progressed in my capabilities to speak Chilean Spanish over the past four and a half months. I also grew as an individual as I was making my own decisions in terms of travel and learning to live in a city environment, where I tended to explore. My relationship with God also grew through attending a phenomenal church downtown, where I was able to worship God with my Chilean brothers and sisters in the style that they worship.
Professionally, my objectives were:
- To further develop my Spanish language skills and fluency
- To expand my knowledge of Economic Development by looking through the lens of Latin America
- To transfer the above skills into transferable experiences for my future career
Thanks to living in a part of the world where English is not spoken very often, outside of my American friends, I was constantly immersed in the Spanish language. From the beginning of the semester, where I had trouble understanding the littlest of phrases, to the end of the semester, where I was able to have full conversations, I noticed how much I was growing and learning the art of conversational language learning. Now, I feel like I can have conversations with native speakers without any reservations. I also learned about Economic Development on a more global scale, as through the semester we learned how unique it truly must be depending on location, because of the uniqueness of each country and even each community, and their needs. I feel that this knowledge will help me as I prepare to graduate and find a career where I can apply my skills.
- To establish fluency and proficiency in a Latin American dialect of Spanish
- To grow in my time management skills
- To understand Spanish and Economic Development in real-world contexts
I thoroughly enjoyed taking classes in Chile! I was able to learn from a diverse group of professors, each with their own plethora of knowledge and experience in their field. Thanks to a Conversation class and a Grammar class, my fluency in Spanish has grown tremendously. I also learned to adapt my time management skills based on particular classes and what was going on around me, such as when classes were cancelled due to protests. Finally, learning about what makes Chilean culture unique and how Latin America in general is a melting pot of people and places helped me to see Spanish and Economic Development in real-world situations.
In terms of community engagement, my objectives were:
- To learn how to network with Chileans in order to grow my understanding and interaction within the global community
- To gain a new and different perspective within my local community through cultural immersion
By the end of the semester, I was finally feeling pretty comfortable and a part of the community I was living in during my semester abroad. I met many Chileans who I hope to remain in contact with and be able to ask questions to in order to continue my learning though I am back in the States. I also see my local community in a much different light, as I have reflected on the importance of diversity and understanding someone else’s culture, as you can learn from each other and create unique relationships among each other.
Overall, my semester abroad in Chile taught me a lot in personally, professional, and academic life, and in terms of community engagement. My hope is that in the future I will be able to return to Chile to reunite with my host family and see parts of the country that I did not have the opportunity to experience. I also hope to be able to keep applying what I have learned to every day life and grow in my understanding of people who are different than me.
Thank you for following my adventures abroad!