Breann Kluck is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I played fútbol for our university and it was definitely one of the top memories from my semester in Chile. In addition to playing the game I love-in Latin America, where soccer is HUGE!-I found the girls on the team to be extremely welcoming and kind. I can truly call them the best friends I made in Chile, and know I will keep in touch with them in the future. I always looked forward to our practices and games and I felt so proud to be a part of a team; on top of it all, I was able to represent my Chilean university! Some of my favorite memories included hilarious conversations while driving from Plaza Viña to Valparaíso for practices and games (many times speaking in the wonderful language of Spanglish), having a water fight on a really hot day of practice, going out with the girls on the weekends, and making Christmas cookies at one of the girl's apartments. I realized what good of friends I had made when it was time to say good-bye - it was one of the most difficult things I've had to do in my life!
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
I had wanted to study abroad since high school, and the reputable programs at CSB/SJU were a major factor in deciding to go to school here. I was born and raised in Minnesota, and felt that living in a different country (not just vacationing there) would open my eyes to so many cultures and people that I had never had the chance to interact with and experience here. I had a busy first two years of classes at CSB/SJU and was ready for a break to experience something completely new and exciting.
I wanted to choose a Spanish-speaking program in order to complete my Hispanic Studies minor, and decided on Chile because I heard so many wonderful things about the country and it seemed so adventurous. With the desert to the north, large and modern cities in the middle, the amazing wilderness of Patagonia to the south, the towering Andes to the east and the gorgeous coasts along the west border, Chile seemed to offer a little bit of everything and I wanted to explore it all. I was also excited for the service learning opportunity and that I would stay with a host family.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Before I left for Chile, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. As it turned out, Chile was everything I thought it would be and SO much more. I arrived in Chile as a slightly nervous "gringa"; however, I left as a true "chilena." Chile was the perfect place to study abroad- I mean, what could be better than meeting friends on the beach for ice cream on a sunny afternoon, attending the new campus of Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, playing on the university's fútbol team, living with and learning so much from a host family, having an asado (a delicious BBQ) at a Chilean friend's house, and experiencing the entertaining nightlife of Viña del Mar?!
One of the best feelings I had was walking home from school one day and realizing that life in a different country-so far from home-actually seemed "normal." That's when I truly knew I had integrated into the Chilean life. I would hope that every student who is thinking about going abroad is able to feel this same amazement in their program's location-it is so invigorating!
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
I don't feel as though I'm a totally different person, but rather just more mature and complete. I have experienced the independence of being on my own in a large and unknown city and country. Also, I have faced and overcome so many challenges in trying to communicate with people in a different language and because of this, have returned to the U.S. as a much more confident Spanish speaker. I have a better perspective on the politics and society of Latin America, as well as the United States (it was interesting to learn and experience first-hand the huge influence that the U.S. has in Chile). Additionally, I have a better perspective on issues here at "home" at CSB/SJU - I feel as though I can relate more to the international students here on campus, since I too was an international student in Chile. I have come back to CSB/SJU with a whole new set of relationships-I now have a Chilean family and friends, as well as 20 new Bennie and Johnnie friends from my program. My semester in Chile was truly unforgettable.
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
Four months may seem like a long time at the beginning, but you will be surprised by how fast your study abroad program flies-by the end, you will wish more than anything it was the beginning again. My advice is to be adventurous, challenge yourself to do things you never thought you could, soak up as many cultural experiences as you can, make native friends, and just live it up each and every minute!
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Chile? Email Breann at email@example.com.