Chile is the Aymaran word for “The land where the Earth ends.” Chile is a country in South America that occupies a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. I first fell in love with Chile while learning about it in one of my Spanish classes during my freshman year at Marquette. Geographically, Chile is incredibly diverse with the Atacama Desert in the North, Andes Mountains on the east side, ocean on the west side, glaciers to the south, along with volcanoes, islands, lakes, fjords, canals, and twisting peninsulas. Does that not sound incredible?
Almost a year ago, I had the crazy idea that I wanted to study abroad in Chile for the entire year. At first, my reasoning was not thought out very much if at all, but how can any idea in the first stage of development truly be planned? The reality is that it cannot, [if you disagree because you know someone capable of casting a vision or idea and having every little bit worked out immediately, please let me know so that I can be taught of their magical ways]. When I first started sharing this idea with close friends and family, everyone thought it was just another one of my out of this world; you don’t have the means to do this, idea. Not to forget, my parents were completely against it in the beginning. It’s amazing how mindsets and hearts can change.
In February, I will be moving to Santiago, Chile, for ten months and I am so, so excited. There are many different reasons as to why I am going and I would like to share those
I am excited to learn more about how Spanish-speaking people communicate, and how that compares to communication in the United States. I have lived in the United States for my entire life and am very much a part of this individual-focused, or ‘cold climate’, culture and I want to experience the group-focused, or ‘hot climate’ culture, which are apparent in Spanish speaking countries. I want to learn about the ‘hot climate’ culture of Chile and be able bring what I learn back with me to the United States and implement some of those things into my daily life. I also want to learn about the tiny idiosyncrasies within Chilean culture that I will hopefully experience at the home I stay at, at my school, and throughout Santiago and the rest of Chile that I am able to see.
Another reason I am going to go to Chile is because I want to continue to further my Spanish-speaking abilities. Spanish has always been among my favorite classes and when I go to Chile, all of my classes will be in Spanish. Now, I understand that having a ton of Spanish classes does not mean that all of my classes will feel like a family, as a matter of fact it is likely that none of them will be the same as the classes I have had here. Continuing to learn a language in a country that’s primary language is Spanish is going to be hard, and humbling, but incredibly satisfying. I am in love with the Spanish language because it is an emotional, poetic language and because my level of proficiency is that of a seven or eight year old, there will always be a new word or expression for me to learn.
College has been difficult for me in the sense that I am in this constant interim between my life at school and my life at home. This interim, at times, is difficult to handle. There are days that I love to be independent, and there are other days that I am reaching out and grasping for any part of my childhood that still exists. I will be permanently living in Chile for ten months and will not come home during any of the breaks. I think being away for ten months will be a challenge, but a great experience for me to grow and learn about my potential as an adult. I am young, but I am no longer a child and I need to keep moving forward in the sense that I will not live under my parent’s roof forever. With that being said, I know that they will love me forever. The ten months I am gone, I am going to miss them terribly.
I am notorious for having crazy ideas and dreams, but eleven months has gone by and one of my crazy-if not the craziest- ideas is becoming a reality. I’ve taken a lot of time to discern whether or not this trip is something God is willing for my life and also to define and discern ‘God’s calling’.
Last semester, I spent so much time waiting, praying to God for his will to be done rather than doing anything. Over the last year, I have learned that most days God isn’t going to call us to do specific things, and I must admit I became lazy and unfaithful during those times I was ‘waiting for God to answer me’. I am learning that sometimes you pick a road you want to go down and you sell yourself out to God on that road and the way that you walk on that road is going to determine whether or not it is God’s road. I’m learning that sometimes God is pleased that we come to Him with our crazy ideas-even crazier, sometimes He says yes!
In February, I will journey to the land where the Earth ends and I will share my life with an entirely different group of people, and maybe even share some of my crazy ideas with them-who knows what that will ignite! As I count down the months I have left at school and at home, I am finding it harder to begin say goodbye, but easier to embrace this new, unfamiliar home. God has [so far] made it clear that I am to go, and so I will go.