Emily Stawarski is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Chile.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The specific cultural experience would be my entire home stay in general. My host family did an excellent job helping me to understand why Chileans do what they do(religion, eating times, greetings). They gave me a great amount of Chilean food for me to try and just shared an incredible amount of Chilean hospitality that I hope to bring back with me to the U.S.
Why did you choose the program in which you participated?
Before enrolling at CSB I had heard of neighbors studying abroad, and I always thought it would be something really neat. Throughout high school and college, I realized that I really wanted to travel and learn about different cultures. I chose Chile because of the language immersion and I thought it would be completely different than anything I could imagine...and boy was I right! South America was a place that I wasn't sure I would ever get a chance to see, and that also made Chile a more appealing choice. I had heard previous students talk about the amazing ocean, wonderful classes and the opportunities they had experienced and I decided Chile would be the right choice for me.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience in Chile is something that I will never forget. With all of the exciting things came a lot of unexpected twists most of them positive, but it made my experience that much more memorable. I was able to earn academic credit while experiencing first hand what I was learning about. It was also incredible being able to speak with the people in their own language. I would go again in a heartbeat.
How has the trip affected you? How are you different for having completed the experience?
Chile had a great influence on me. I came back with a lot more confidence in myself as well as my capabilities especially in Spanish. I learned that it is okay to ask for help, though it might be scary. With everyone looking at me because I was different, I had to learn to be confident in the way I held myself and the way I dressed. I have much more cultural awareness and I learned how to interact with many different types of people. When I went to Chile, there were a lot of student protests with the government, so I have come to really understand the value of compromise and its importance and necessity. Overall, the trip has had many positive influences on me that I am still finding out about myself daily.
What advice do you have for future Study Abroad Students?
My advice would be to experience as much of the culture as you can. Get out, explore and breathe it all in. Try all the foods and have no regrets. Avoid the computer and get to know your host family(or the neighbors around you). Go off the beaten path and find the true heart of the place where you are studying. You will be amazed at the wonderful people you will meet