The “study” in Study Abroad

Posted by on November 26, 2013

You know those times when you think you have it all together, just barely but you’re definitely all there, and then all of a sudden something comes out of nowhere and suddenly you aren’t quite sure how you’ll manage it all?

Everyone experiences this from time to time, and I learned about 2 weeks ago that being abroad really doesn’t make you immune to these unexpected obstacles. So without giving too much personal detail, let’s just say that this happened, and with finals looming in the horizon I wasn’t sure how I would do it all, but like any dilemma you analyze the situation, organize a plan, and get it done. Since I had some unexpected things to deal with, I haven’t been able to blog for quite a while so I’ll do my best to give a good recap now!

First off, I’M FREE! Last week I had all of my finals, presentations, essays and projects due which means that now I have nothing to focus on except fully enjoying Santiago (yippee!!). Taking all of my classes in spanish has definitely been a challenge. I’ve heard so many people say that abroad classes are such a breeze, but to be honest I had to work pretty hard to do well. Especially at the beginning, the language barrier is quite an adjustment- you have to listen to your professors lecture in Spanish all day (which if you think it’s difficult to stay focused in a normal class, I promise it takes so much more effort to not zone out when the professor is speaking in Spanish for the full 2 hours), you have to do all your homework and assignments in Spanish, but even more, the part that really took some time for me, was to learn to truly process/analyze information and think critically in Spanish. All that being said, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to take classes here! Not going to lie, sometimes they really annoyed me because I just wanted to focus on traveling and exploring, but I’ve realized that being abroad isn’t just about seeing new places. It’s also an amazing opportunity to learn. Beyond the actual material I learned in my classes, I’ve learned that I can adapt to new challenges, like having to participate in a Spanish mock trial or holding my own in an ethical debate. I never thought I would say this, but maybe those classes that I thought were just a distraction from the “real” abroad experience were actually valuable, too. I know this goes against what most people say about going abroad, “don’t study too much- enjoy your time there,” and they’re right too, because you will learn SO much outside of the classroom, but I’ve realized that you can’t discredit the things you learn and the skills you build from challenging yourself to perform in a new country on an academic level either.

All that being said, I have had some truly incredible experiences this semester, like traveling up north to the Atacama Desert:

Atacama Desert

Observatory in the Atacama Desert- SO cool!

Ojos de Salar- Atacama Desert

But I also have gotten to do some cool stuff through my classes, like getting unique experiences through my clinical observation class:

Super professional mirror pic

From traveling up and down this country, to the more quiet adventures like having an unforgettable conversation with a hemodialysis patient, there is so much to be thankful for from my time abroad.

Sending well wishes to all of my friends and family back home- have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I may not get to eat turkey on Thursday, but I’ll definitely be mindful of all that I have to be thankful for as well!:)


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