(for contextual support I wrote this two days ago in the airport at like 5:00 AM, enjoy)
As I sit in the airport, back in the US of A, I can’t help but to start planning my next adventures. I want to go to Europe, Spain specifically. I want to return to South America, to see Machu Picchu and Patagonia, everything I missed the first time. I want to return to Santiago and Viña del Mar, to visit friends and enjoy my second homes.
This is what I did the first time I got back to the US, after studying abroad last year. I immediately started planning trips to see my abroad friends, tried to map out ways to leave the country again, really anything I could do to relive my incredible semester. This time, my future planning is not in order to grasp at the past, but rather to continue my growth, to continue learning about new places, to continue to meet new people and adapt to new cultures. A continuation. Moving forward.
As I move forward though I am looking back at the past. My first semester abroad, where I learned about change, ambiguity, language barriers, love, home. My year back in the states, where I learned about independence, heartbreak, strength, and determination. And now my summer in Santiago.
This summer was an incredible test for me. I realized that (and this may seem obvious for some) you cannot relive the past. No matter how hard you try. Once I understood that, it was much easier for me to look to the future, and live in the present. I made new memories with old friends, and made new friends with old cab drivers. I showed love to my favorite street dogs, learned more Spanish, and explored a new city all by myself. The first two months were more of a struggle, as my 8:30 to 6:30 daily, unpaid internship, while interesting and highly beneficial, was basically all I had time for during the week. I didn’t get to travel the same way I did the past year when I was a student, and I didn’t have a solid group of friends to rely on (there were zero other interns). I ended up making temporary friends from all over- some Chileans, some gringos, a Britt here and there.
While the first two months in Santiago were difficult, they were also incredibly beneficial for my professional and personal growth. However, my favorite part of this experience was my 6 day trip to Argentina. I met people from all over, toured a new city, and visited my 2nd and 3rd foreign countries. This was the greatest reminder for me that I love to travel. Even more, I love to travel with someone. My German friend who had studied in Viña was also in the city at the same time, a bit of luck and fate working on my side. It was awesome to have someone take lame city tours with me, and visit cafes, and talk to about travel and the future (she’s coming back to Chile to find an internship and be with her Chilean novio after she graduates, it’s a cute story). Travel is just more fun when you have someone to joke with and complain with and explore with. On my own though, I discovered that I love Buenos Aires, like crazy love it. It was gorgeous with it’s plazas and cafes and shoe stores… I had fallen so hard for Chile that I didn’t even think about all the other places out there that might hold something for me. So I’ve got to keep going.
My next stop is Salamanca, Spain next January, to take a class in Spanish and maybe see a little bit of Europe. After that, who knows, but I’m positive I’ll return to Chile some day. My host sister, on our Sunday walk (trek… it was miles and I was wearing my new Argentine platforms, bad decisions follow me daily), told me this “no hay segundo sin tercero.” And that probably isn’t word for word or maybe not even grammatically correct but the point is, there isn’t a second visit without a third visit. I said I would return, and while not everyone was as 100% sure as I was, I did it. And I’d like to do it again.
For now, I am happy (ecstatic) to be back where I belong (for now). To see my family tonight and to eat buffalo wings (and ranch dressing!!!) tomorrow night with some of my favorite girls. Viva Chile, but I <3 DSM.