Three blog entries by Briana Simmons chronicle her Study Away experience in Chile (June – July 2014)
Get up! Right now, get up and leave.
Get out of your comfort zone. Escape the places you’ve become all too familiar with. Get out and learn about the world and all it encompasses and be open to all the things you will learn about yourself.
Study Away is much more than going away for a few weeks to discover new places. These discoveries you’ll encounter away from home will be life-changing. Put yourself in an unfamiliar place, with all these strange delicacies, a hard-to-understand language and see what you can accomplish.
Challenge yourself to make it through the day in this strange place. I can guarantee you’ll sleep with a prideful grin.
I spent two months in Santiago, Chile. Two months seems like a short time, but in complete solace you’ll discover rewarding realities about yourself. What seems like just a few weeks turns into an eternity.
Surely the time only begins to progress when you’ve begun to adjust to your new home. Then, you realize it must all come to an end at some point.
Within my first few weeks in Chile, I easily become a “yes woman.” I tried every traditional dish, went to every hot hangout spot and never turned down the opportunity to try something new.
Some things I enjoyed, others I’d rather keep as a one-time thing, but the ultimate lesson in that is that I did it. I have that experience to keep with me forever.
Study Away is a great personal investment.
# # #
While I was in Chile, I was not only able to gain personally and socially from my experiences, but every day I went to work as an associate editor of an online newspaper and digital magazine.
I had the opportunity to edit the stories of journalists from all around the world before their work was published to the website. I also couldn’t resist the urge to write a few stories myself.
My work experiences were different from anything I’d done before at home.
I had to familiarize myself with Chile and learn about the stories that needed to be told in this place. This was the most challenging to do in such a short amount of time.
You’re bound to face challenges in a foreign country, but if you preserve you’ll overcome them as well.
I had to adjust to my new day-to-day lifestyle. I had to learn new currency so I wouldn’t overspend. I consistently used public transportation for the first time in my life.
I ate food I was unfamiliar with every day, and as a picky eater my taste buds didn’t always agree. I was forced to overcome language barriers with local Chileans who use a different dialect in Spanish and speak very fast.
I was out of place, frustrated and homesick at times, but it was worth ever uncomfortable and embarrassing moment.
In our global world, Study Away will help you to accept the lifestyle of others and appreciate your own.
# # #
Have you ever caught the glare of a complete stranger and wondered what their thoughts were as they stared at your clothes, skin or hair?
Perhaps they were judging you for being so different in their space. Have you ever considered maybe just maybe they were simply interested in you and your story?
Think about it. When you walk past a person in a wheelchair, a homeless person on the street or a person with the very opposite features than you, you can’t help but look and wonder. I wonder what their story is and what life is like for them.
One thing I learned from my time in Chile is people all around the world care about the same things. We express love, pain and joy in similar ways. I believe we’re all interested in one other whether we’ll openly admit it or not.
Embrace the differences you have with your neighbor. Invite them to get to know you and openly listen to what’ve they endured to make for such great stories.
I was told that traveling abroad would create moments of cultural shock. They were right.
Of course there are selfish reason we do the things we do, but always remember your choices will also affect someone else.
I’ve gained friends from all around the world. I’ve connected with new people from New Zealand, Germany, South Africa, Bermuda, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, France and other parts of the United States.
Undoubtedly, we’ve all impacted the lives of one other.
— Briana Simmons
Senior, Print and Internet Journalism