El Salvador is not Santa Fe

Mollie Abts
May 2, 2019

El Salvador is not Santa Fe, I found myself thinking as I sat on the bus from my Santiago homestay on my way to the IES Abroad Center. El Salvador is the name of the main street that I travel to school on in Santiago, a switch from the street, Santa Fe, that I traveled on in Buenos Aires. I have traded the tall buildings on Sante Fe for the short houses that line El Salvador, swapped the many fashion shops for a few corner convenience stores.

The biggest draw factor to the program I chose was the fact that it was a multi-location program; I was excited to experience two different cities over the course of the semester. I didn’t think too much of the differences that I would experience in comparison to students whose study abroad programs are stationed in one city. Everyone has a different study abroad experience, but here are some of the joys and struggles of a multi-location program.

The biggest struggle I’ve faced is comparing my experiences in both cities, always rushing to think They did/didn’t do this in Buenos Aires, or If this were Buenos Aires...

It’s human nature to compare our present experience with past experiences, to make sense of our current situation. But it’s not fair to negatively compare Santiago with Buenos Aires, as both cities have different experiences to offer. It’s important to keep an open mind when studying abroad in two places, as comparisons can sour your second experience. It’s also important not to get discouraged if your expectations don’t meet reality; yes, at times it is disappointing, but it’s important to move on and readjust expectations. In Buenos Aires, I felt like I was always busy, I could always find something to do even if I was just walking back to my homestay. In Santiago, however, I feel like I’m stuck in the suburbs, and I have to try hard to keep busy. I definitely did not expect to ever feel bored while studying abroad, so I had to adjust and accept that I was going to have to try harder to keep busy.

Another struggle of a multi-location program is having to adjust to a new culture, seven weeks after the last needed adjustment. Just when I was finding routine in the streets of Buenos Aires, we jetted off to Santiago. I found that it takes about a week and a half or two weeks to really feel settled into a new city, and with such little time abroad, it’s sometimes a challenge to spend a month of your experience feeling disoriented and lost, and sometimes a challenge to not let this feeling of being lost frustrate you.

There’s also many perks to doing a multi-location program, so don’t let the struggles fool you. Being able to experience life in two cities will really give you the chance to learn how to think globally. This program has made me realize that it’s unrealistic to expect two countries to offer you the same experience; each will paint you a picture that can’t be viewed from the same perspective.

Doing a multi-location program has given me the opportunity to experience life in two neighboring countries that have so much to teach the world; it’s been such a great experience to get to know two countries that lie in my region of study.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would still pick a multi-location program because the learning experience goes unmatched; if you have the chance to study in more than one place, go for it!

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Mollie Abts

<p>Hi all! I am a junior at the University of Minnesota studying Global Studies, with a focus on the global political economy in Latin America. I love being able to experience my favorite city, Minneapolis, while<br>gaining my education. My hobbies include reading, trying new food, shopping and exploring. My favorite animal is a sloth, and my favorite travel memory so far was when I got to witness a sloth climbing down from a tree outside of the Panama Canal!</p>

Home university:
University of Minnesota
Hometown:
Waukesha, WI
Major:
Global Studies
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