So… Apparently I’m going to Chile in a few days. And I’m really excited about it! Even though it doesn’t quite seem real yet. If you told me I could go live in a smallish town in the middle of the driest desert on earth that has incredible star-gazing and running paths along the ocean, I’d say that that sounded nice. If you told me I didn’t have to look at snow again until next November, I would start to get pretty excited. But if you told me that I was about to go to the other side of the globe and live farther away from home than I’ve ever been in my life, and, moreover, this was all happening in three days time, I’d say that you must have gotten the wrong person because this sounds like someone else’s life and definitely not my own.
But actually it is happening! Which seems crazy. But hooray! If you told me I was pretty much packed and had my Chilean visa and passport all ready to go, and that my plane ticket was all bought and all that was left was to check in, I’d feel pretty good about the whole affair. Which is how it is, so that’s good.
In regards to this whole living-on-the-other-side-of-the-world thing, I researched a little bit about exactly how far Chile is from where I am now. While Chile is only the width of Wisconsin wide at its widest point, from north to south you could fit eight Wisconsins piled on top of each other and still not reach Puerto Williams (which just happens to be the most southern city in the world) or Cabo de Hornos (also known as Cape Horn, the southern most headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in Chile. Fun fact, this cape is also the northern boundary of the Drake Passage that ships used to have to take to get between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Although the Panama Canal has taken away some of Cape Horn’s glory and fame, don’t worry because according to Wikipedia, casual yachters who find themselves circumnavigating the globe often still go through this passage just for fun. In case you were wondering.). And finally, GoogleMaps has informed me that my new home city of Arica is exactly 4,420 miles away from the University of Wisconsin Madison, or a little more than 14 Wisconsins away. Although this is potentially a terrifying prospect, I’m mostly just excited at this point.
And there is plenty to be excited about, from what I’ve been told. But out of all the potentially exciting things, I think I am most excited to meet my host family. I’ve heard both good and bad stories from other people who’ve studied abroad with host families, but I just have this feeling that my host family will be super awesome. And I also have a million and ten Wisconsin- (and Minnesota)-themed gifts that I cannot wait to share with them. I wrote them a letter when I applied to my program last summer, but I won’t actually know anything about them until I get to Arica. I’m hoping this seven-month waiting game will turn out to be totally worth it, and I’m also hoping that they were able to find some meaning in my letter, which may or may not have been comprehensible due to my very rusty Spanish skills.
Other than that, I’m beyond excited to finally live in another country and meet new people, I’m interested to see if I’ll actually be able to say anything intelligible in Spanish, and I’m terrified to go through customs after a 28 hours of total travel time (if all goes as planned and I don’t miss a flight, biggest fear #1). But if I had to choose one word to describe how I’m feeling about this whole ordeal, I would say that I am READY. I am READY to be done with my two month long winter break, I am READY to leave the Midwest for a while and get a taste of something new, and I am READY to meet the Chileans. I am READY for the adventure of a lifetime.