As I brought my luggage to the bus, where the other students were waiting, the mountains greeted me like an old friend. I thought, “yeah, I can do this.”

The view of the Andes on my flight to Santiago.

A few minutes later, I panicked, the scene on the bus like a flashback to middle school. Where do I sit? Who looks friendly? Can I make new friends?

By the time the 2 hour bus trip to Valparaíso was finished, I was once again feeling confident. The girl I shared my seat with was friendly, intelligent, and kind.  We were experiencing similar kinds of emotions. I thought, “yeah, maybe I can do this.”

But don’t let the length of time sink in.  As we sat down to lunch, the girl on my left mentioned, “Can you believe we’re gonna be here 5 months?” Nope.  I started worrying again.

The whole first day I went back and forth between these emotions. Confidence, panic; feel good, start worrying. Constantly conflicted, I had no idea what my life here was going to be like.  I just had to trust that things were going to fall into place.

Then I met my host family.  In Chile, people greet each other with a kiss on the cheek.  After a warm “bienvenido,” we went back to my family’s apartment, where I was also introduced to the grandparents, aunts, and other family members.  After a few hours chatting and eating, I overheard my host mom say to her sister-in-law, “Monica speaks Spanish very well.”

You know what? Yeah, I can do this!


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