As mentioned in my first blog, I had been planning on filming a documentary for months and had many difficulties such as lack of money for equipment (tripod, camera and lenses) and losing my iPhone 7 that had taken the majority of my shots. Despite these set backs, I was able to produce something that really captured the emotions and experience I had abroad. Thanks to the help of a classmate who helped co-direct and write the documentary, Kyle Arnold, we were able to submit it for the IES Abroad film festival. The message that it carries is simple:
We always talk about the glamour of study abroad, but once abroad we find out that it is only a façade; about how often times, on the Instagram post, it looks as if we are having the times of our lives, but really behind the camera is a lonely traveler much more lost than clear about what he or she is doing. We are left to our own thoughts as we constantly question our own selves. Why am I even here? Will this help me decide my major? What will I do after? These questions eat at us and often go unanswered even as we return abroad; however, there is some solace in that. While we believe we are alone, we have never been alone. It is solitude that joins and accompanies us in our most isolated moments. I hope you who are reading this and are hoping to study abroad or are already studying abroad know that it is okay to be alone, because when you are abroad this solitude is the greatest teacher of your time away from all that is familiar to you.
This video was inspired by the solitude that I often felt during my study abroad program. From the first day of my stay in Santiago, I really felt that I was leaving a lot home: people that I loved and everything familiar to me. But it wasn’t that I missed home that made this solitude, it was that I struggled to find a home a way from home in Santiago. Immersing myself into the culture and finding Chilean friends was always a difficulty because everyone seemed to have their own schedule and meeting up in the city often times hours across it was always a barrier to making strong friendships. At first, I saw this struggle negatively but as time went on, I began to embrace this solitude and take advantage of it. So I used it to get to know my own self and really challenge myself. In this solitude I discovered many things that I would not have about myself if I had had the distractions of those who are very dear and familiar to me. I needed to be uncomfortable and I needed to grow.