My Final Days in Chile

I know I was supposed to make another blog post at the halfway point of my time here but to be honest it has taken me this long to come to terms with the fact that there is in fact an “end.” (Actually, I probably won’t believe it until I am on the plane home- but I guess it is kind of important to start the healing process early). Last night I had a dream- no, nightmare- that I rolled up to BC, caught one glance of lower and burst into tears. I know, kind of dramatic but the thought of leaving honestly makes me get all shaky and sweaty and I am currently in a public space so I am going to stop thinking about it now. On to only wonderful things (and more denial)!

I just got back from San Pedro de Atacama, one of the driest deserts in the world and I can honestly say that my appreciation for chapstick has reached a whole new level. I would like to find Burt and his bees and give them all a kiss on the cheek. It was my first time visiting anywhere remotely close to a desert and by the first day I became one of the many gaga eyed San Pedro praisers. We ended up renting a car to avoid pricey tours and huge gaggles of tourists and it couldn’t have worked out better. Our one hiccup was getting caught following a geyser tour at 4 in the morning but we just played the dumb tourist and ended up finding our own way there and successfully avoided the tours by an hour! We were nearly alone 4,300 meters up and among the third largest geyser field in the world. The only thing that made this view better was a little mood lighting from the sunrise. Despite a little bit of altitude sickness which hit me just as we were getting back into the car, it was one of my most favorite sights thus far. We were also able to go sand boarding in Valle de la Muerte, float in some beautiful crystal blue salty lagoons, watch a breathtaking sunset which transformed the desert around us into the surface of the moon, and meet some pretty cool travelers along the way. It was the trip with some of the best onda (vibes- definitely my favorite chilenismo I have learned) and I was very sad to see it go. But then something happened. Something that I felt after my first trip to La Serena. Landing in Santiago felt like coming home and I considered myself very lucky to be able to say that about a place that was once so foreign to me.

Right now I’m in the process of finishing my classes tomorrow and planning my final trips. I am hoping to make it to Buenos Aires in the last week of November and then onto Patagonia to spend a few weeks exploring before I fly back to Florida the 22nd. I am dangerously close to the end and trust me, I feel it. It’s a weird confusing mix of home sickness and fear of leaving. I carry my friends and family with me wherever I go and I only wished they were here to experience all of this with me. I know junior year is really stressful back at BC so I send my love to everyone back there. I also send my love to everyone abroad right now, it has been so interesting to read your posts and I hope you all enjoy the time you have left!

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Continuing to win London

Hello, hello!

Two months in and one month to go. London is still fantastic – so much has happened in the past month. I will try to fit in as much as I can!

  • Crossed Abbey Road in honor of The Beatles
  • Ate lunch at The Shard, the tallest building in Europe
  • Climbed to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral — absolutely breathtaking in every respect. I wish I had the words to describe how beautiful it is inside and how lovely the view is
  • Took a weekend trip to Amsterdam and Bruges — very beautiful cities!
  • Saw three plays:
    • King Charles III – about what would happen if the Queen died and Charles would take the throne. Very British and culturally relevant
    •  Speed-the-Plow featuring Lindsay Lohan – about Hollywood and the movie industry. Not great, but I was excited to see Lindsay
    • Made in Dagenham — musical about the ladies of Ford Dagenham fighting for equal pay. Another culturally relevant play that was both entertaining and informative
  • Planted poppies at the Tower of London for Remembrance Day to honor the centennial of the First World War
  • Took a day trip to Paris for my 20th birthday —  absolutely remarkable and beautiful. Again, I wish I had the words to describe that city
  • Visited the Olympic Park & saw the aquatic center
  • Started watching Sherlock and found the filming site for Baker Street on North Gower Street
  • Attended a USA vs. Colombia football match at Fulham football club — got to cheer on former Eagle Alejandro Bedoya who played in the World Cup this summer
  • Made a day trip to Cambridge and got to travel in a car again, visit an English home, and see colleges of Cambridge — one of the oldest universities in England

Though this has all been amazing, I must acknowledge that I still miss my friends and family dearly. There is no doubt that being abroad is worth it, but adjusting to life so far away has been part of the experience. I understand that this is what happens when I’m thousands of miles from home, which is why I continue to embrace it. Plus, I still have loads more afternoon tea to drink before I leave. My tea count is now at 6, but I feel I have not yet ingested enough finger sandwiches to be truly British enough.

Foreign Affairs of a Homebody

I am, quite possibly, the biggest homebody in the history of homebodies. While some people might consider seeing their parents once a week suffocating, I consider it a blessing. I am from Natick, Massachusetts, a town about 20 minutes west of Boston College, a perfect distance that allows me to feel the comforting bubble of home in my dorm room. Sitting in the Internet café across from the Duomo in Parma, I am mentally listing things, moments, and people I am going to miss in Massachusetts throughout my 3 months studying abroad.

For starters: I miss my dad picking me up on his way home from work to grab a quick dinner, my best friend at BC who kindly sends me pictures from storming the field at the USC football game, helping my sister work on her Common Application, jamming to Taylor Swift in the Heights office, eating candy in the SAP office, and Chipotle.

Going abroad, as you can see, was one of the scariest, most life altering decisions I have ever made.

You know that quote about how your life doesn’t really start until you leave your comfort zone? Well, I don’t know if I agree with that. I was living very happily in Chestnut Hill. But I do know that leaving my comfort zone has forced me to live in the moment. Learning about Italian culture has been incredibly eye opening, not only because I have learned what this culture expects from its citizens and how inherently proud they are of their country, but also because I have learned more about American culture, specifically the Boston College culture.

As a foreign woman in a patriarchal, Italian society I have come to appreciate the confidence I feel as a woman at BC. There is a bubble at BC, but I would say that it is a safe bubble. I am finally running into an area that is not a guaranteed safe space for young woman, which has not been a problem in Chestnut Hill. Being cat called Shakira is surprisingly not attractive or enticing and going for a run is something one can only do in broad daylight, even in the wealthy part of Florence. Walking alone after the sun has gone down is not advised; so imagine this: not being able to walk to White Mountain Creamery to meet friends at night if you are by yourself. It’s a sad thought.

Being in Italy has taught me to slow down and look around, not be so preoccupied with Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. It has taught me to disconnect from technology. I also appreciate having dinner with others again because not everyone is on their phones. Using a map to find your way around the city to your Art History lecture makes you use more brain cells than just plugging the address into Google Maps. Fast food here is actually not fast and McDonald’s is not cheap, which makes me a very broke girl. Planning extra time into your day for the little things as well as not cramming your day with a million errands is the norm.

The constant social media, text message, FaceTime world has made me sacrifice those little moments you have where you stop and admire how beautiful Bapst library is or how delicious late night mozzarella sticks are. I understand that college, including an abroad experience, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Boston College allowed me to have this opportunity, specifically to grow and become more independent. Being disconnected will force me to come back to BC with a desire to live for the moment. I miss BC, I miss my family, I miss the comfort of home, but BC will still be there for me in three months and Italy is incredibly awesome. So until then: I miss you all.