In two weeks, I will be flying out from Orlando, Florida to Santiago, Chile to study under the IES Abroad Politics, Human Rights, and Social Justice Program. Just yesterday, I received my housing assignment and the list of other participants for the program. To my excitement, I found out that I would be staying in a 2-bedroom apartment right next to a park with a room of my own, near walking distance of grocery stores and coffee shops. I drove to the post office shortly after and pre-made a stack of envelopes for my loved ones at home, featuring my new address. I am excited to become familiar with my housemate and my neighborhood, befriend the baristas around the corner and know my way around my landmarks big and small.
Most Yale students don't tend to take semesters abroad during the school year — there's always a fear of missing out socially or academically. Moreover, some majors and pre-professional tracks just don't allow for it. With my interest in international affairs and major in Ethnicity, Race and Migration, I figured this program would be right up my alley. I'll be taking exclusively IES Abroad classes, as I wanted to spend my summer working domestically. Due to the strict requirements of my university, I'll be taking virtually all of the classes offered, something that I am nervous about. Even though the class offerings are slim, I am eager to delve deeply into the material and complete my readings and assignments in Spanish. Even more than just growing linguistically, I have set a few goals for myself for this trip.
1) The first and foremost of "Why Latin America?"....to learn Spanish for life!
2) Become even more independent. Even though I'm fairly comfortable travelling alone for short periods of time, I've never spent so long away from the English speaking world. I'm excited and nervous to navigate new situations.
3) Spend every weekend seeing at least one cultural attraction! On my list are the Pablo Neruda houses, museums featuring Isabel Allende's work, La Moneda, art museums and more
4) Visit the Patagonia. I've been doing some research on this, and I plan to spend a long weekend doing a quick round-trip flight out to Torres del Paine. I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't make it!
5) Along the same vein of #4, I'd love to visit the Uyuni Salt Flats of Bolivia.
6) Build a 'regular' presence at a local café. I live for small coffee shops, and would love to build a rapport with one near my new apartment.
7) Befriend my housemate (who sells baked goods!)
8) Take the leap — new people, new places, new practices.
9) Try every food that comes my way.
10) Say yes.
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<p>Annie Cheng is a sophomore at Yale University studying political science and ethnic studies. She speaks 2.5 languages, listens to jazz and hip hop, and is currently residing in Santiago, Chile. Her passions include journalism, environmentalism, and supporting the arts. By the end of her studies, she hopes to confidently claim trilingualism.</p>