Hannah is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile.
Major: Elementary Education
Minor: Hispanic Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I came into CSB/SJU always wanting to study abroad. I have a love for the Spanish language, and knew that going abroad would be the perfect opportunity for me to keep working towards fluency. I became fascinated by Chile's diverse landscape and balance of city and nature. Chile has it all- mountains, desert, lakes, glaciers, volcanoes, beach; anything and everything you could ever imagine you can find in the long, narrow country. This was very attractive to me as I enjoy spending time outdoors. It was a perfect fit!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I was blessed with the most loving and supportive host family. My first weekend there I was so overwhelmed with settling in to a new place, new culture, with a new language that I started crying in my room. My host mom heard me and she came in and hugged me tight. Later that night, it was just her and my two sisters that were home. Together we all prepared dinner. We sat at the table for hours playing cards, listening to music, and I was showing them pictures of my siblings and parents. They were curious about me and where I came from. This was a night I will never forget because it's a true testament to how important family is in the Chilean culture. I felt so loved by these complete strangers, and from that moment on I was simply another member of the family. Living with a host family gave me so much more than a place to stay, and was a cultural experience that made a lasting impression.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
One of the most important experiences I had was my volunteer opportunity. The Chile trip has a strong service learning component that is a part of your curriculum for the semester. Being an Elementary Education major, I was placed in a kindergarten classroom at a local private school. Not only was I able to use my Spanish with the little ones, but I also was introduced to a whole new system of education- classroom management, teaching methods, lesson plans, and so much more. I am so grateful to have had this experience and know that it will impact my future as a teacher!
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?
Study abroad is a time for personal growth, and with it there are many benefits. For me, there were 5 that contributed to my development socially, academically, and professionally:
1. Time for travel.
You're in a new country with a new culture- there is always something to explore. Whether it is an hour bus ride away or you need 3 connecting flights, you can go anywhere your heart desires and nothing is stopping you. Go see the world!
2. Making yourself vulnerable.
Studying abroad is not always as happy/easy looking as it seems on social media. There will be times where you are uncomfortable, unsure, and question yourself. Things will be hard to translate and people will not not able to understand you. This is okay and completely natural! It teaches you patience and problem solving skills. You'd be amazed at what you can improvise and come up with on the spot while going with the flow!
3. Disconnecting from home.
This was a HUGE benefit for me. My phone broke the third week I was there, and the only way I could communicate was through Facebook Messenger. I constantly relied on wifi, however you will not find that on top of a mountain in Patagonia. It allowed me to stop and take in my surroundings, as well as build relationships with those around me experiencing the same thing.
4. Learning how to budget.
This is a very important skill you're going to need to acquire in your lifetime. Studying abroad it not cheap, however if you manage your money you can make it go a long way and get the most out of your trip and excursions.
5. Makes you appreciative of the little things.
While abroad, you start to notice things that make you happy and bring you peace. You will recognize people, objects, find a favorite food, etc. All of these will become memories you'll have for the rest of your life.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Don't hesitate. If you're reading this bio, you're considering a great opportunity. Take a deep breath, trust yourself, and go have the adventure of a lifetime! Also, learning that being spontaneous and not having plans will make your experience that much more worthwhile. I would constantly remind myself of what Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus would say... "Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!"
¡Buen viaje! Que te vaya bien.
Do you have any questions about studying abroad in Chile? Email Hannah at [email protected].