After three months studying abroad in Santiago, Chile and spending a week out of the city, I realized how attached I am to it. Last week was spring break and I spent the week in southern Chile. I noticed that this week I felt some sort of satisfaction by being in the city. When I landed in Santiago, I was so elated to be back. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy to have been in the south, I felt like I had arrived home after a long trip. Do you know that feeling?
This feeling also came with a sudden appreciation for things I hadn’t noticed before. Such as, having three host siblings (I don’t think I’ve talked about my host siblings that much, if at all, but I have three host siblings. A pair of young fraternal twins [boy and girl] and a baby girl). As soon as I walked through the door on that Sunday afternoon, everyone was looking in my direction and screamed in excitement: “JESSICA!!!” They were having lunch out on the patio and told me to join them. This made me overwhelmingly joyous. I guess in that moment I didn’t realize how at home they had made me feel. I haven’t been homesick much at all since I’ve been in Santiago and I realized that I had never acknowledged that a lot of it had to do with the fact that my host family has made me feel very comfortable during my time here.
After lunch was over, I headed to my room, showered from my trip, and I started to paint. I used to paint back in the states and had just recently gotten the materials to paint here. While I was in Patagonia, I decided that I would paint one of the views I saw there.
I began to paint Lake Nordenskjold and this is what I have so far:
While painting this, I felt happy and comfortable. I looked out the window and realized I had such a nicely placed room. I can see the backyard to the apartment complex, which is comprised of a pool and a small garden. During the day I can hear the children from the building playing outside, sometimes I can hear parents just chatting, and a sound I can always count on is the sound of cars driving by. I know a lot of people would find this bothersome, especially at night; however, I love the sound. I love being able to hear that there is still life even in the middle of the night. Somehow, it’s comforting and I know I’ll miss this when I leave Santiago.
The next day when classes resumed, I found myself once again extremely happy. Usually, bus and metro rides don’t seem too great, but for some reason, I realized I loved them both. I love that it takes me around 45 minutes to get to school because I always have time to read. It’s perfect for me to carry out a hobby I tend to push to the side when I’m in school. I was also thrilled to see my group of friends whom I hadn’t seen in a week. It was a really long week and I was so used to seeing everyone every single day that a week without them felt like an eternity, but the time apart made our reunion much more wonderful. I just loved being able to have friends in this beautiful city. Not only friends but I was also excited to see my professors and hang around campus with all of my friends.
I love this city and all of the experiences I’ve had in it. I wonder how I’ll handle being back home in the states. I have a theory that I’m not going to recover from reverse-culture shock until after the summer is over, but I guess we’ll see.
Here’s a little video I made on my experience abroad, what I learned, how I changed, and how this time in Chile has impacted me.
Jessica Ramos is a California State University, Sacramento student. She studied abroad in Santiago, Chile and is a recipient of the Fund for Education Abroad. This blog originally appeared on the FEA website.