Well folks, this is it- I’m down to my final hours in Chile. If you find that hard to believe, you are absolutely not alone. This semester has flown by so quickly!
Many people say that one of the toughest things about going abroad is coming back home, and I think they might be right. It’s a bit of a bittersweet, internal tug of war- on one hand you are excited to finally see the family and friends you left behind, but on the other you are reluctant to leave the place that has been your home for the past 5 months. It’s the beautiful yet cruel paradox that comes with living in other places: you get to call multiple places “home,” but you can never truly be completely and 100% home again because home is no longer defined as a single place. As you travel to different parts of the world you begin to open your mind, heart and soul to that place with a profundity you never thought possible, so today I’m finding myself going home yet leaving home simultaneously.
When you go abroad, you of course expect to have a bit of culture shock in the beginning, and people will tell you to keep an open mind and be patient with yourself and others. Really, this advice rings true when you transition back in to American life as well. When you’re going back home, your time of adjustment and transition is far from over. To make the transition the least painful as I can, I am definitely going to strive to have patience and understanding when I go back. I know that things that I never questioned before may seem strange to me now, and the feeling of unfamiliarty that I had when I first came here will possibly return when what was once familiar to me now seems “foreign.”
Even though leaving Chile will be hard, I refuse to think of this as “the end,” but instead a new beginning. I have had so many memorable experiences here- some were wonderfully exciting and others were painfully difficult, but they all have taught me so much about life and myself. So even though technically this is “the end” of my time abroad, it’s also the beginning as I get to go back and utilize all the skills and lessons I’ve learned in my time here, from things like how to adapt to any situation, or the knowledge that when going to an heladería, always go for the double scoop of ice cream no matter how full you think you are.
All in all, this has been the adventure of a lifetime. Looking back, I would have never been able to guess how much this experience would really mean to me. From the beautiful triumphs to the countless mistakes, I would not change a single thing. I’ve seen the magnificent beauty of this country, made amazing friends, and learned what it means to truly live.
Because I still refuse to think of this as a final goodbye, I’ll refrain from saying “ciao” and instead say “Hasta luego, Chile.” It’s been an incredible ride.