I saw this flower last weekend - not in a botanical garden, but just growing out of the earth on a hiking trail on the outskirts of Santiago. What a wonderful reminder that this country is beautiful and that even if I didn’t get to see every museum and explore ever barrio, I am so lucky to be here.
I don’t have regrets about the way I spent my time in Santiago. Although I didn’t get to see absolutely everything I wanted to see, it was never out of lazyness. If I didn’t see Barrio Brasil, it’s because I was too busy exploring Barrio Italia. If I didn’t see the Ralli Museum it’s because I was too busy exploring Bellas Artes and el Museo de la Solidaridad.
And in any case, study abroad is not just about seeing places. Staying home and being lazy with my host family on some nights was an excellent decision all around. Some of my favorite memories with friends were times when I meant to go to an event, but we ended up spending hours talking in a park or in the IES center or in someone’s apartment. I had fun, learned, and grew so much from those conversations.
Last week, we had a Thanksgiving dinner with IES as a despedida, or farewell. We all brought in food to share – I made middle eastern salad. We handed out superlatives on paper plates (mine? Most likely to taekwondo in Parque Bustamente). We sat outside on the patio, nursing our food babies, enjoying warm air with a light breeze and the occasional leaf falling on our laps from the tree above. Some girls put together a slideshow, which put a smile on my face that didn’t leave until I was back in bed, conked out.
Oddly enough, I didn’t actually have a Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving. It was my last normal night in Santiago before traveling, and I wanted to be home with my host family. I didn’t really miss it though, because I’ve felt more thankful that day than I have any other Thanksgiving.
I know this is when I’m supposed to quote in Spanish, but I’m a multicultural kid and the one phrase that really feels appropriate is from a song in Hebrew, “Todah al Kol Ma She Natatah,” or “Thanks for Everything You’ve Given.” I think it has a spiritual sense, as in thanking god, but it can also be a thank-you to anybody. I won’t bore you with my Granny Awards-worthy list of thank-you’s, but the point is that even though I may not have had a normal Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day, I’m ever so grateful.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Maya is a senior majoring in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to classes and laboratory research, she enjoys running, martial arts, and improvisational baking (with variable results). Having achieved comprehension of the Baltimore accent, she hopes to master Spanish as well, and is looking forward to many adventures in Chile!</span></p>