What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?
Arianna: When I arrived in Chile it was a fairly easy transition and everything seemed just the same as things were back home in the United States however, I wish someone would have told me how important it is, in the Chilean culture, to be dressed and looking presentable when in public.
I learned this the hard way when one day my host mom invited me to go to the grocery store with her and I, as I would have done here in the US during the winter, proceeded to get my sneakers on wearing sweatpants and a warm fleece jacket.
Well that was a huge mistake as my host mom told me she would not let me go out in public dressed as I was, even though we were just going to the grocery store. So I had to go change into nicer clothes and also had to put on make-up and change from sneakers to nicer shoes.
Just know that if you ever travel to Chile, be sure to have nice clothes with you, even if you’re just making runs to the grocery store!
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Arianna: I’m a huge supporter of going abroad and have always encouraged everyone I come across to travel abroad too. For me the biggest aspect about traveling abroad is that it humbles you and changes you for the better. You can’t help but learn more about yourself, what makes you, you, what inspires you and what drives you.
You learn about how each thing you do not only affects your life but also that of others while at the same time being so humbled by the fact that you are merely just one person in world of millions of other people striving to complete their own dreams.
You also learn that while so many people seem different from you, you’re all still humans who all share the need for love, understanding, compassion, and grace.
While abroad you are forced to become vulnerable, to be flexible and are constantly pushed out of your comfort-zone. Yet it is through these challenges that you build character, that you develop more as an individual, and that you realize just how incredible life can be, regardless of where you are.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
Arianna: My favorite story to tell about my trip abroad in Chile has to do with a birthday party in Santiago, which my Chilean friend, Arturo, invited me to. After about a 30-minute drive from his house we arrived at a large home, which was completely fenced in. We parked and once I got out of the car I noticed a long line of people waiting to get into this home and saw that there was a bouncer out front checking his list to let people in!
I was dreading waiting in the long line, but before I knew it Arturo was leading me to the front of the line, checked in with the bouncer and then we walked right in through the gates and toward the back yard where there was a large group of people mingling.
We immediately found the birthday girl and wished her a “Happy Birthday” and then a group of Arturo’s friends found us and we all begin chatting. In the midst of the conversation Arturo paused, looked at me and said, “Oh by the way, welcome to the home of the third richest man in all of Chile, and you just met his daughter!”
What made this experience unique and special?
Arianna: What made my trip so truly unique and special was the amazing host family I had. I was truly blessed with the family I was given as they made it their priority, daily, to make sure I was comfortable, safe, happy, and enjoying my time in Chile. I lived with a host mom, grandmother, and three older brothers all whom welcomed me into the family as one of their own from day one.
My host mom always made sure to teach me new Spanish words and would write the new words I learned in dry-erase marker on the tiles of her kitchen so that I would see them each day. My brothers also always helped me whether it be with my homework, getting around town, or even just inviting me to parties so that I could meet new people.
My grandmother would often braid my hair or make me a cup of tea while I was busy studying late into the night, which were small ways which she would show me she truly cared. I absolutely loved my host family and truly owe it to them for the incredible time I had abroad in Chile!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Arianna: My one piece of advice that I would give to someone going to Chile through ISA, or even just studying abroad anywhere, would be to do so with an open mind and an attitude in which you are willing to experience anything.
I went to Chile with the desire to truly make the most of my time there so anytime that I wasn’t in class, I was out exploring, practicing my Spanish, engaging with the locals and the Chilean culture.
Anytime I’d go out to places I made it my motto that “I can always make American friends when in America, but I won’t always be able to make Chilean friends” and from that I gained many lasting friendships with Chileans whom I still keep in touch with today (almost 2 years later!)
Also if your going to learn a new language, be sure to actually attempt to use it always, even if your with a group of Americans, force yourself to practice the language because that’s the only way your going to actually pick it up and be able to gain the fluency you desire. Lastly, just be flexible and things I guarantee will be easier!