Emma Lundgren ’24

Program: Chile Semester

Major: Biology, Pre-Med Track

Minor: Hispanic Studies

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

I decided to study abroad because, as a Hispanic Studies minor with aspirations to become fluent in the Spanish language, I saw the Chile program as an opportunity to immerse myself in a place where I would be able to grasp this dream of mine. Living with a host family and attending a Chilean university was the perfect environment for me to learn more of the language, but also the culture and what makes it beautiful.

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

I think the greatest cultural experience I had was simply the love from my host family, and specifically my host mom. I have never felt more welcome or more at home in a place so foreign. I remember my sister, my boyfriend, and my sister’s boyfriend came down to see me for my last week in Viña, and my host mom had all of us over for a big celebratory dinner. Over the meal, she gave a speech about how much I had impacted her life, and I just remember wishing I had the words in Spanish to tell her how she had impacted mine. My visitors didn’t speak any Spanish, but her love transcends language barriers. She welcomed them in with open arms and loved each one of them as if they were her own, even if it was only for a short time. The love of my host mom is something that I will never forget.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My study abroad experience was filled with travel, volunteering, learning, dancing, singing, surfing, laughing, hiking, exploring, loving, and hugging. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We went to a Chilean university four days a week and volunteered once a week by giving at-risk children surfing lessons. In our free time, we went shopping, ate sushi, sang karaoke, laid by the beach, and spent time with our host families. On many weekends we traveled South America and had the absolute best time doing it. We saw the Atacama Desert in bloom, climbed a volcano, went white-water rafting, relaxed in hot springs, swam in a spring that was 40 times saltier than the dead sea, and rode bikes through the desert. We lived with host families and became a part of a home and formed friendships that will surely last forever.

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?

There are so many benefits to spending a semester abroad. For me, the biggest thing was language, but I know that not all study abroad programs off the home-stay option. As a Hispanic Studies minor, this aspect of my program really aided me in my learning. I also think it’s really important to get a different view and see a different side of the work. Being abroad gives you the opportunity to see poverty, racism, xenophobia, gender inequality and religion in ways you could never have even conceived. I whole-heartedly believe that study abroad gives way to more global minded and aware students, equipping them for the world ahead of them.

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

Go. That’s my advice. It is seriously the best thing you can do for yourself academically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Go and enjoy it while your there. I especially recommend journaling as something that you can look back on and remember all the little details and fun moments you hope to never forget.