February 19, 2023 was the day that I embarked on a new journey to study abroad in Santiago, Chile. Excited, anxious, nervous; I really can’t describe the ball of emotions I felt leading up to that day. It wasn’t my first time leaving the country but it was my first time leaving the country for more than a month.
A bit of a backstory, I had heard about the IES Chile Health Studies program since my freshman year at Hope and decided to plan for a semester abroad in order to do this program. However, COVID happened and I just assumed that studying abroad in college probably wouldn’t happen. Then, I had the pleasant surprise that the program was back up and accepting students. I knew that it was the perfect opportunity and something I had always wanted to do, but it meant missing out on my last semester at Hope. It was difficult to decide between participating in a program that would benefit me academically and professionally and leaving my friends and all the “lasts at Hope” behind.
Now, it’s been a month in Santiago, Chile. Trust me, I questioned whether I made the right decision when I was at the airport saying goodbye to my dad on February 19th, but now being here for a month, I can confidently say that I made the right decision, I mean look at that smile from the picture above! I don’t even see myself wanting to leave! I’ve been able to explore Santiago and go sightseeing. I have enjoyed my host family and the hours of conversations we have engaged in. I’m extremely excited for my clinical observations, while wearing a white lab coat and learning more about the health system in Chile.
Importantly, the group of students and staff that are a part of IES Santiago have played a huge role in my adjustment away from home and Hope. I have been welcomed, validated, accepted, cared for and loved by them which has given me the sense of community that I have felt while at Hope even within the first month of being here. Before leaving for Chile, I felt like the only emotion I should be feeling is excitement because I was going to travel to a new place but I want to say that it is very valid to experience a mix of emotions before and during studying abroad.
This is just the beginning and I really can’t wait to continue on this journey and share the joy that I have felt in this past month!
“Making a big life change is pretty scary. But you know what’s even scarier? Regret. -Zig Ziglar