Belen Dominguez '21

Program: Chile Fall Semester

Major: Political Science, Hispanic Studies

Minor: Communication

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

I decided to study abroad in Chile because I knew I wanted to be in a country where I could practice my Spanish. In addition, as a Latina, I wanted to know and share my experience and culture with other people who identify as Latinos as well (Chileans). Lastly, I chose Chile because I knew nothing about it! I wanted to go somewhere I knew I would never get the opportunity to go there, later in life. I don't think many people who travel would pick South America over Europe, so that is why I picked it. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and learn about another place in the world.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

In the United States, any one from hispanic/latino decent is often labeled as so. However, in my time traveling through several countries in South America, people there identify themselves and others by the country of origin. Although I spoke perfect Spanish and probably look like a Chilean, I often spotted out by Chilean as Mexican. I was very amazed that they could guess my exact country of origin. I wasn't just another Latina, but I was a Mexican Latina and that meant a lot.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

I loved my experience in Chile. This study abroad opportunity opened my eyes to the issues and lifestyle abroad. One of the things I particularly learned from my host mom is that there are different ways of looking at life. For example, her family was very big on traveling. They felt that traveling was the best way to promote growth, independence, and awareness of the world.

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?

- growth! You really learn how to be independent because you’re alone!!
-Knowledge. You learn so much about international topics that we often don’t pay attention to in the United States
-Experience. Study abroad helps you develop life skills that you wouldn't have if you weren't on the other side of the world trying to live and function on your own for a couple of months.
-perspective.. you learn to look and think in a new/ different way.

-bettered my Spanish
- Make international connections
- sparked my interest in international relations/ policies.
-adapted to a different learning dynamic/ setting.

What advice can you offer for CSB+SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

You don't need to have all the answered of how to make this possible. All it takes is the WILL to do it. Where there is a WILL there is a WAY. 
It's ok to not know and have questions, that is the most exciting part of the journey.