Here we are, exactly 6 weeks into my study abroad journey. I have decided that I am going to try to write every 3 weeks, that way I will have enough to say that is hopefully exciting but not so much that you will all be bored. When I write I try to have a few major themes in mind, which I will elaborate on, so this post is going to focus on adventure, anxiety, communication, and spring!
These past 3 weeks have been full of adventure and exploration. A couple weeks back I finally had the opportunity to have a guided tour around Valparaíso, the port city for Santiago and the city that I go to school in. Valparaiso is absolutely beautiful! This city is filled with culture, personality, and beautiful views. Valparaíso is the City of 42 hills (cerros). Many of these hills have acensors (elevators) that take you from sea level to the hilltop. Valparaíso is filled with houses of all different colors, street art, little touristy shops, cafes, and tons of lights that light up the city over the ocean at night. I took this tour by myself with the activities director at my school, it was a tour that was included in my program. She only spoke to me in Spanish all day and I felt accomplished that I could spend an entire day with a native speaker and have plenty of conversation!
I had a couple other adventures over the past few weeks, one of them being Concon, a city about a half hour away from where I live. They have dunes that overlook the ocean with breath taking views at the top. I also traveled to the most northern city in Chile called Arica with my friend Sydney. The city of Arica itself was not that exciting but we took a tour to Lauca National Park, which was stunning. They have the highest lake in South America called Lake Chungara, there are llamas, alpaca, flamingo and other interesting animals that live in the park. We ended up meeting a guy names Jonas from Switzerland on our tour. He was staying in Arica for a couple days and we had planned to go to Peru which was only 30 mins from Arica the next day, he ended up joining us and is going to come visit Valparaíso in a couple days. It is so great to meet people from different places in the world and to be able to travel and learn about other cultures. We traveled over the boarder to Tacna Peru a cute little town with an arc and a church and a Peruvian flag. As soon as we arrived in Peru we were asking a man for directions to the main plaza when he decided to walk us there and show us around the city. He took us to a great restaurant where we could sit outside and eat a very popular Peruvian meal called ceviche (raw fish) my mom would be so proud of me for trying it. Our trip to Arica and Tacna was great and I am so happy I got to experience northern Chile.
One of my biggest struggles abroad has been coping with anxiety. I never truly felt that I had anxiety until a couple weeks before I left for Chile. As some of my family and friends know, I had a major migraine about a week before coming to Chile. I ended up in the ER and they ruled it out as a stress induced migraine. Since that day I have experienced a lot of nervousness and anxiety about being in a different country and away from home. It isn’t something that halts my daily activities but it is on my mind many days and comes with a crappy side effect of headaches. I try to calm myself by writing, using essential oils, and learning to breath. Each day has been better and better and I hope that the more I acclimate in this new place the more I will BE ok! This is a quote that I found and I think it is great.
“Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable. You may feel safer when you’re worrying, but it’s just an illusion. Focusing on worst-case scenarios won’t keep bad things from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. So if you want to stop worrying, start by tackling your need for certainty and immediate answers.”
Communication is something that has been slightly difficult the past couple weeks as I lost my phone somewhere on the streets of Chile. I was very sad but quickly learned that I am completely functional without a phone which was a relief. I did miss out on some great photo opportunities but for the most part it was a good learning experience. I was also able to use more Spanish during this time because I didn’t have a phone to look up everything so I found myself engaging a little bit more and hopefully improving my Spanish skills.
Down here in the southern hemisphere, we are moving into spring! I am so happy because the weather has been sporadically beautiful! The sun is starting to come out more and the temperature is rising. I love love love warm weather and I look forward to the warm months that are approaching!
Stay tuned for my upcoming adventures to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Santiago tour, and Chilean Independence day! P.S. It has now been 7 weeks, I had a paper due this week that got in the way of writing this post. Thank you all for keeping up with my journey abroad.