Mel in Chile: Everything you want is right outside your comfort zone.

This is the post we have all been waiting for!!! THE END OF STUDY ABROAD YAYYY! That is in fact true. Some days ago I finished my study abroad semester with an SIT program in Santiago, Chile. I imagine the following text will be suspiciously similar to other testimonies of study abroadlings but I’ll do my best to make it a bit different. I will be honest.

In my last entry I talked about how the topic I chose for my independent study project was outside of what I have chose to study at UR. I was a bit nervous about writing so much on something incredibly new but I thought, “ Well this is one of the best opportunities I will have. The grades don’t count as long as I don’t completely blow it. Might as well!” The project was one of the most enjoyable activities I have overtaken. It was refreshing to read things outside of what I am usually exposed to but I was also lucky because I had the opportunity to link traveling for my personal pleasure to my research. It was sort of a multitasking situation.

It was only when I came home that I saw an article circulating around the Facebook community addressing college students who study abroad. It was an article from The Onion hinting, through their infamous satire, the message that study abroad was an excuse to party in Europe or meet cute Latinos in South America. Even more off putting than the article were the responses from fellow study abroaders affirming the overall message of the article! Now I will not make myself the “responsible” student who studied abroad only for the educational opportunities and the broadening of my perspective by living in another culture. I will be honest in saying some of the comments were funny but true. Like all articles form The Onion, it was genius.

On the other hand, I couldn’t help but remember all the times I had Skyped with friends and family and talked to them about how much I was learning during my study abroad semester. So when I read the article from The Onion I of course laughed but I also couldn’t stop this strange feeling of “Well that isn’t entirely true. Maybe not even the slightest bit true!” As I said before, I will not deny the Shenanigans, the traveling, the going out with other travelers that were passing by on their way to Patagonia, making new friends with my group, the salsa classes, enjoying the fiestas patrias…and well everything else that comes with study abroad. But…is that so bad? In my opinion, study abroad works best when students take complete advantage of what your city has to offer. We are used to learning only coming from academic spheres, everything from lectures, articles, classes, and books. If you are willing to accept it, an opportunity to study abroad is an opportunity to learn. To learn from people, the culture, other foreign exchange students, the host family, street performers, and everyone around you.  I would highly recommend taking an opportunity to study abroad. But it does not end there. Learning takes initiative and requires a person to be proactive and to be open to new concepts. You will be uncomfortable; you will miss UR, your friends, your professors and the resources offered at our university. The point is to see beyond your previous accommodations, stop comparing between your home and host institution and simply allow yourself to grow from the experience.

“Everything you want is right outside your comfort zone.”

– Robert Allen

The following are images of Chile:

gran torre

This is an image of the Gran Torre de Santiago- the tallest building in Latin America.

indomita vineyard

Old wine bottles at Indomita

isla negra

View from Pablo Neruda’s house in Isla Negra.

valledelaluna

We watched the sunset at Valle de la Luna. One of the most beautiful places on Earth.

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