Written by Melissa Schilling ’18
This was written as part of the spring 3-week Chile trip led by Professor John Bolus.
Growing up I never had the opportunity to leave the country. My family would always go camping for a weekend getaway at a nearby campground but we never really took vacations. I never thought to much about traveling because I was content with our short trips every now and then. Coming to Hiram College three years ago, I never thought I would be offered so many opportunities. Studying abroad in Chile was one of the many opportunities thrown my way.
Waking up April 17th, the number one thing I was feeling was fear. I had never been so far away from home before and in just a few hours I would be boarding a plane and flying over 5,000 miles away. After saying goodbye to my family and making my way through the airport, I was nervous but I knew I was ready for this adventure. As I looked out the window before landing in Santiago, I got a view of the mountains and knew I made the right decision in making Chile my first trip out of the country. After getting out of the plane, I was ready and making my way out of the airport and into a whole different world.
I will admit I was still nervous, especially when we had to go through customs. Thankfully, I made it through with little trouble (I didn’t know the address to where I was staying, but now I know that’s something important to know when traveling). Now, we finally made it out of the airport and we were heading to the vans to take us to our hostel. Driving through Santiago was pretty exciting. There was so much going on everywhere we were driving through. Whether it was people outside walking, cars speeding past, beautiful artwork on building, statues in parks, or performers in the streets, there was just so much to take in. We soon arrived at our hostel to drop off our bags and begin our first day in Santiago.
We first learned how to use public transportation. To my surprise it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. We then roamed Santiago, visiting parks, churches, and artisan fairs. I learned more and more as the day went on. By the end of my first day in Chile, I could not believe how wonderful it was.
Reflecting back to the trip now, I could not agree more with how I felt that first night. I have not felt more welcomed, safe, and comfortable away from home than I did in Chile. The trip, as a whole, gave me a new perspective on life and has helped me grow as an individual. Emerging myself in a culture that was unlike my own has helped me value my culture more as well as others. Traveling to Chile has been the best experience of my life and has made me want to travel more. Someday soon I hope to return to Chile and to learn more about this country I grew to love in just twenty-three short days.