Here I am in my seat, hundreds of miles above the earth and sea on an airplane back to my home. Everything I did throughout my internship abroad is done, I took all I could fit with me in my suitcase, and I left some things behind. Now there's just me, my thoughts, and several more hours of travel.
Sometimes a bad habit of mine is fixating on the negative: Now that my time in Chile is over, what do I regret doing? And I really don't regret doing anything. That's not to say I never made a mistake. One day, I got lost for several hours in the city alone without cell phone service, and I couldn't find my friends. But that same day, I learned how to ride the metro, take a bus, ask for directions and WiFi passwords, and I met some very kind volunteer firefighters.
So, more accurately, what do I regret not doing? I had made it a goal of mine to visit the majority of Santiago's 30-something comunas as well as its top five empanada restaurants. I never quite made it, but I don't necessarily regret that either. I knew within my first few weeks in Santiago that I would make my return one day, hopefully with friends and family in tow, so I know I'll have another chance to explore the cityscape even more than I already have.
So my regrets, if you could even call them that, may come down to some of the missed personal experiences here. I wonder if I really dedicated myself to speaking Spanish as often as possible and learning everything I could, and I'm not sure if I made the most out of all of my relationships with people. My host mom and I didn't get along as well as I would have liked, and I started to get close with a lot of my coworkers towards the end and now I wish I didn't have to leave them so soon. Did I push myself enough to do it all?
But the truth of study abroad is that no one can really do it all. For all the things I didn't get the chance to do, I was able to do so many wonderful things! I made such close friends at IES Abroad, and travelling to San Pedro de Atacama, Puerto Natales in Patagonia, and fun spots in Santiago with them was unforgettable. Some of us have already made plans to meet up back in the United States for mini reunions! My Spanish improved, I learned so much at my internship, and I feel much more comfortable having lived in a big city. I hope I stay in contact with my IES Abroad and internship mentors in Chile for a long time. Sometimes it's so easy to scrutinize every break or every lazy afternoon as a missed opportunity, but I'm coming to understand that I couldn't have done everything in a mere two months. I experienced and accomplished more than enough.
And whether it's the end of the day or the end of my study abroad, there's no room in my suitcase for regrets.
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<p>Hey there, my name is Megan! I'm from a rural suburb south of Annapolis, Maryland, and like many Annapolitans, I love sailing, summer, and being on the water. When I'm not in my quiet hometown, I'm enjoying (and adjusting to) city life in Baltimore, studying International Studies and Sociology in my first year at Johns Hopkins. This summer, I'll be living and working in a city a bit farther from home: Santiago, Chile!</p>