From Chicago to Santiago

Headshot of Maggie Peyton.
Maggie Peyton
August 20, 2022
world map with flags

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Chicago, Illinois when I started high school—six years ago now. This is the second time I have moved in my life and is just a bit further, by a little over 4,600 miles. I am super excited, but the buildup was not without its stressors; figuring out which program is right for you, filling out and turning in all of the forms, not knowing who you’re going to be with on your trip, and everything in between. I’m going to make the best of what I get no matter what—my host family has already been lovely and caring and hospitable, and in most cases, my questions were answered before I was able to worry about them for too long. Leaving behind family and friends will be hard, but I’m confident that our access to social media and technology will keep us as tightly connected as ever while also giving us all the opportunity to grow separately—something I think is especially important because of how connected we are these days.

I prepared as well as I could by talking to native speakers as much as possible, visiting restaurants with Chilean food, watching shows in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, and taking care of myself and my mental health. I packed only the stuff that matters: earrings and Spider-Man shirts and my favorite trans and lesbian flag socks (I’m just kidding; I packed pants and pajamas too). I bought new boots in preparation, which proceeded to split in half in the middle of a trip to visit my family while I was breaking them in. Note to self: do the extra work, y’all, and don’t let this be you when you’re already on your study abroad. I got new ones and they’re incredible, don’t worry. I looked up the weather forecast and researched what to wear when and got the lovely news that I would get to layer for most of my time there, which just happens to be my favorite way to dress—things are already working out better than I could’ve expected and I haven’t even landed in Santiago yet. I don’t want to jinx it but I’m hoping the trend continues.

I’m excited about all the fresh food and faces. I can’t wait to explore a country that experiences all four seasons at one time. Overall though, I am most excited to be finally meeting one of the biggest goals I have had in my life: to study abroad while I am in college, and to finally become fluent in Spanish, a language I have spent years trying to learn. I can’t wait for the adventure to truly begin.

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Headshot of Maggie Peyton.

Maggie Peyton

My name is Maggie and I'm from Chicago, Illinois (one of the best cities in the States in my completely unbiased opinion). I'm left-handed, could watch Encanto every day, and I am a huge fan of the singer-songwriter Mitski. I study Public Policy at the University of Illinois in Chicago and am excited to learn more about Santiago. I hope to find a community away from the one I have at home and make Santiago my own.

2022 Fall, 2023 Spring
Home University:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Public Policy
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