Finding a home away from home has a two month struggle with little success but, despite them, I have gained much more perspective. The thought of “a home away from home” is one that my classmate and I have been mulling over on one of our themes for the documentary we are producing for our program.
And if you are struggling to get there, it’s okay.
We have talked to many of our peer students that despite having improved their Spanish connecting with Chileans is still difficult, especially if one isn’t taking university courses with them, finding a niche, or just struggling to communicate with host families. With this is added another struggle of truly immersing one’s self into the culture and into what Chile has to offer.
What exactly does immersing oneself even mean anyways? Is it going on excursions enjoying the beautiful sceneries of the country? Studying with local university students? Staying up to date on local pop culture? All of these sound right, but how many times does one need to do this to arrive at “immersion”? To me, it sounds like an over-glorified, spiritual state that only a select few can reach, but what I have come to discover is that it does not come like a wave or as an epiphany would but in stages, like a lot of small epiphanies. These epiphanies, as beautiful as the word sounds, instead, have hit me when I have made mistakes, missed cultural cues, at my lowest hours, or the times I have thrown myself into social scenes being the only foreigner.
“He who does not travel, who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
dies slowly” – Pablo Neruda
And it’s not to say this is everyone’s immersion experience. But one common denominator of the ways to attain this, said Nirvana, is that one have patience. I arrived to Chile quickly wanting to find a community to fit in to fill longings for ones at home, but like starting college or moving to a new city, it takes time to find your niche. And if you are struggling to get there, it’s okay. You are not alone, it might even be that on the plane ride home you will reflect and discover just how immersed you were.
Recap: In the past few months, I have already experienced so much, already having had my first exam at my local university in theology, visiting Templo Ba’hai (the only one that stands in South America), witnessing my first birth in my clinical observation class and learning kickboxing for the first time. With all of it, more so my experience in my health studies and clinical observations, I have been beginning to discover passions that I never had before.
At Templo Bahai