Tara is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
When I was in high school I had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica with the Spanish program. I went and fell in love with the Spanish language, traveling and learning new things about different countries. After this day I looked forward to the opportunity to go abroad again. When I went to the study abroad fair my freshman year at CSB I knew I would be going abroad somewhere while I was at St. Ben's I just didn't know where. I wanted to use my Spanish and better develop my Spanish speaking skills so I knew I wanted to go to one of the three Spanish speaking countries. After stopping in at each booth I knew that Chile was the program for me. After this event I called my parents as a freshman and told them I was going abroad my junior year and I was going to Chile. Since that day I did research all the time about the country and every time I researched more my want to travel to this country grew. For me Chile had some of everything to offer, the chance to better my Spanish skills, live with a host family and be immersed into the Chilean culture, attend a school where I could meet new friends, be able to see some of everything in my travels, including the desert all the way down to the penguins as well as, see volcanoes and experience tremors and most importantly gain a more open mind about the world and learn more about myself.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Fiestas Patrias is similar to the 4th of July. The night of the Independence Day I went to the beach to watch the fireworks expecting them to be like any other fireworks. Before the fireworks started the huge crowd of people by the beach started singing an old Chilean folklore song. Then a little presentation about the independence of Chile was announced while boats floated around in the water with bright lights shining on the Chilean flag. The fireworks started and it was unlike any other fireworks I have seen. Right as the fireworks were ending every one yelled "Chi Chi Chi le le le Viva Chile." At this moment I felt the pride of being Chilean and the strong tie of the culture pulled me in even more, making Chile a place I could call home.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My trip to Chile was one of the best experiences of my life. I got to learn so much about the different culture of Chile by living with a host family. The ability to live with a host family allowed me to improve my Spanish while experiencing the culture by eating, breathing and living it. I was able to travel to both the north and the south of Chile where I was able to see how different the country really is. Everything about my trip to Chile is something I will never forget.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
Studying abroad in Chile has changed my life, not only has it opened my eyes to life outside of the United States but it also challenged me in a way to become more independent and reach out to things that are strange and uncomfortable. Now, after spending 5 months in a Spanish speaking country, I am not afraid to use my Spanish and am looking forward to using it in the future.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Go abroad and don't hold back. Just because the country offers something you don't usually do, do it because you may like it and it may be the only chance you get. Keep your mind open about the whole experience because things are going to be different but it's going to be worth it in the end.