How has this experience impacted your future?
Sarah: Coming to Guatemala has by far been one of the best decisions I have made. A lot of people really questioned my decision to go to Guatemala but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have gained invaluable experience working as an intern at the International Business Academy.
Here, I am not treated as “just an intern”. I’ve been given real responsibilities, I get asked my opinion about how things should be done, and I really take an active role in the business. This is a job that I do look forward to going to work the next day. Overall, I’d definitely recommend this program to people. I am truly valued here and I know I have impacted others during my time here.
Did you forget to pack something important? Did you feel as if you were missing something?
Sarah: When I packed my two HUGE duffles for my six months in Guatemala, I was being a bit naive about the weather. I figured, “Well, it’s Guatemala. It can’t be THAT cold.” Well I was wrong. It wasn’t until November/December that it began to get cold.
I truly wasn’t anticipating it to be cold here, so I wasn’t fully prepared (clothes wise) for the weather. Although it’s not considered very cold, Guatemala, along with other Latin American countries, they don’t have heat throughout houses. It’s funny though because in reality it’s not actually that cold, especially compared to Chicago.
When I would complain about the cold, people would always ask me, “Aren’t you from Chicago?!” Guatemalans would make fun of me for thinking this is cold compared to Chicago. So I do wish I had brought some heavier sweatshirts, another pair of sweatpants, and a warmer jacket.
Do you think your program changed you as a person?
Sarah: Coming to Guatemala has definitely changed me as a person. I’ve been able to appreciate my life and how fortunate I am to have family that loves me, a roof over my head, and food on the table. Life abroad can be very different (depending on where you go).
As an American, I know we Americans sometimes take advantage of some of the simplest things that we have in life. Some of these things include hot water, clean water, security, and government organization. Spending time abroad has truly opened my eyes about how fortunate I am to have all of the aforementioned things. I believe that I truly am a better person when I am not living in America.
Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.
Sarah: Guatemalan food is so good! I have had the chance to try almost all of the typical Guatemalan foods. A typical meal is eggs, black beans, and plantains served with tortillas. You can find tortillas or tamales served with almost all meals. Although this typical meal is very basic, it has truly grown on me.
Also, surprisingly plantains and beans together taste amazing! By far, one of my favorite foods from Guatemala is something called a Rellenitos, which are fried pockets of deliciousness filled with plantains and black beans. They are typically served with sugar on top. This is definitely a must have in Guatemala and something I definitely will miss!
Another thing to try are called Shukos, which are basically hot dogs. But instead of hotdogs, you can get chorizo or sausage with it. But what’s best about it is the bread served with all the different kind of dressings on top!