Chile feels far, far away.
I've been home from Chile for several weeks now, and I've been busy almost ever since I stepped off the plane in the United States. But in the whirlwind time since, reminders of Chile show up in my life almost every day.
Nothing was exactly the same when I got home to the United States. Returning to my house where I've lived all my life felt too good to be true. In Chile, I learned to live with relatively little: a much smaller room, as many personal belongings as could fit in my suitcase, and a classroom full of close friends. But what I did have in Chile absolutely filled my life - with happiness, stress, rigor, and everything else that fills a life - and I never felt like I was lacking. But when I stepped into my home, it was like stepping into a pair of cozy socks. I felt such abundance: I had all of the love of my family and pets, the company of all my friends in high school and college, and activities and possessions that remind me of myself and my history. The only thing missing from this beautiful life was me, and I've never felt luckier than stepping back into it. The immense appreciation I felt then colors my life now, and I hope I never forget it.
Memories from Chile manifest themselves in practical ways too, big and small. After I got back to the U.S., I went by myself to New York City for the first time. I took public transportation from Annapolis to NYC, which was riddled with delays and frustration. Once in the city, I rode the subway uptown and then walked several blocks to my final destination. Before Santiago, I never could have navigated a city like that. I speak and think in Spanish with much more ease, and I'm much more knowledgeable about Latin America as a whole because of my internship. Now my friend is planning her own study abroad in Chile, and I realize just how much advice I have to offer.
One of the brightest reminders of my time in Chile was when my best friend from the program visited me in Annapolis! We had spent hours and hours talking about our homes while we were abroad, and I finally got to show him all that I had been talking about. We were two Americans back in our home country, but when I first saw him get off the train in my hometown, it felt like a moment straight out of Santiago.
I made Santiago my home. Although it's impossible to know such a complex, dynamic city in two short months, I really felt like I was becoming a part of it. I still remember bus routes and subway stops, I miss my favorite restaurants and cafes, I miss the language, I miss the novelty of everything around me, and I miss the growing sense of familiarity. I've been away for a long time now, but I'll never forget Santiago.
Chile feels farther away than ever before, but I always keep it close.
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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>