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Name: Kaytlin Furlong
Traveled Abroad Before: Yes
Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?
A: The first thing that I think about when I think of my study abroad experience are the people that I met while living abroad. I made so many incredible friends, both from Chile and from all over the United States, who I am still in contact with today.
Q: Why did you choose this destination?
A: I chose Chile because I wanted to challenge myself. I knew that the Spanish dialect in Chile was much different from what I had been learning throughout my academic career, and I was eager to challenge myself with this unfamiliar dialect.
Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?
A: A Chilean custom that surprised me was Once. No, I am not referring to the time. Once is a meal that is served in the evening; time dependent on whether that particular family ate dinner or just Once. Generally, you eat a very large lunch and then eat Once a little after you return home from school or work. This meal usually consists of different fresh bakery breads, a variety of cheeses and meats, and avocado.
Additionally, their passion for soccer was so much stronger than I was aware of. I was there during the World Cup, and whenever Chile played, my host parents would be let out early from work and some of our classes would be cancelled so that we could all watch the game and scream for our team.
We had so many unexpected experiences during my time in Valparaíso, Chile. For example, there was an 8.2 earthquake in the north that caused Tsunami warnings and school cancellation in our city. We were also there during Valparaíso's largest forest fire in history. Some of my friends and I created a fundraiser to help raise money for those who lost their homes as a result of the fire. We also climbed up into the hills to help clear debris and start constructing new "makeshift" houses. Finally, when I visited the Atacama Desert, it both rained and snowed. The Atacama is the driest place on earth, yet we faced both rain and the most snow they've seen in 100 years.
Q: What are some things you would like students to know about studying abroad in this destination or the program provider you studied with?
A: I truly believe that studying abroad in Valparaíso, Chile was the greatest decision I could've made. This city has so much to offer, especially in historical and cultural terms. The streets and tall stairs are paved with the most beautiful graffiti I have ever seen. It's easy to find a celebration anywhere that you go. Chileans love to party. More than that though, they love people. Chileans are always willing to lend a helping hand, even to outsiders (Gringos). Their family means the world to them and they are so very passionate about their country. Finally, Valpo sits directly on the coast of the Pacific ocean and the beautiful Andes mountains surround it. I encourage every person to at least take a short trip to Chile. It's country has so much to offer.
Q: What advice would you offer?
A: For anyone who has chosen to study abroad in Valparaíso or really any city in Chile, I encourage you to be patient. I say this because the Chilean dialect is so much more difficult to understand and to learn that I had expected it to be. Honestly, even with my many years of studying, I had no idea what was going on for my first month in Chile. The language is challenging and the world around you is an extreme culture shock, but be patient and just embrace everything that surrounds you. As cheesy as it sounds: allow yourself to stand in the ocean with your eyes closed and the waves splashing your feet; talk to someone that you don't know because I promise that you will learn something new every single day; and go for walks just to get lost. You will always find something new and exciting.
Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?
A: My academic goal was to gain fluency in the Spanish language. Although I had been studying Spanish for many years, I knew that my conversational Spanish was lacking. It was also an experiment for me. I have been debating living abroad after graduation, and I hoped that Chile would show me whether that was something I would be capable of doing. It is, and I definitely intend to be back abroad very soon.
Question? Email Kaytlin !
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