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Prepping, Packing, Polar Vortex, Oh My!

February 3, 2019

As a polar vortex takes over Minneapolis and forces the shut down of the Midwest, my excitement for the start of my program has quadrupled in size! In just over a week I will be welcomed by the warm temperatures that Argentine winters have to offer. My name is Mollie Abts and I am a junior at the University of Minnesota majoring in Global Studies, with a concentration on the global political economy and Latin America. When I first came upon the Multi-Location Emerging Economies program, I knew it was a perfect fit. I knew that it would be able to enhance my knowledge of my regional concentration more than any other program I would find. I am so unbelievably grateful to experience both Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile over the course of this semester! Getting to live with two host families is also a plus because I will have extra opportunities to observe and be a part of the family dynamic and daily life of South Americans.


I have been preparing myself for this adventure since I applied in June, so I’d say I’ve had plenty of time to prepare, but as my departure date nears, I can’t help but feel like I’ll never be ready. My packing list continues to grow as the room in my suitcase continues to shrink, the sad fate of a notorious over-packer. I have reached out to a few individuals who have participated in my program before, and for their advice and reassurance I am forever grateful. For anyone planning to study abroad in the future, I would highly recommend reaching out to past participants and sharing your questions and concerns, as they have been through it and most likely felt the same way and know how to respond.


While my enthusiasm for the start of my program overshadows nervousness, I still have a few worries in the back of my mind. After receiving the participants list, I noticed that I am one of only a few Midwesterns in my program, and that there are a large chunk of students who attend the same school; so there is a chance that they may all know each other already and be friends. I hope that this does not hinder my relationships with these students, and that I am able to become close with everyone despite the fact that they may have a solid friendship with a large part of the group prior to our arrival.


Another worry I have is communicating with my host families and Argentine/Chilean citizens. While I have been taking Spanish courses since the first grade, I worry that accents and slang phrases may hinder my ability to communicate, but am going in with an open mind that is ready to conquer accents and improve my Spanish-speaking abilities!


This semester I am most excited to break routine and experience the South American way of life through exploring the art, history and culture that Santiago and Buenos Aires have to offer. I hope to gain new perspectives on my understanding of families and tradition, and hopefully I’ll be able to bring back a few practices that I can apply to my life in the United States! Being able to study in two major Latin American cities, with a trip to Peru in between, will no doubt positively benefit my understanding of my field of study and global perspectives.


With just a few days left until the start of my program, I am anxiously awaiting all that South America has to offer. Check in with me this semester to read about my adjustment to Buenos Aires (and Santiago when the program switches locations towards the end of March), my experience with the culture and interactions with locals, and much, much more! Chao for now, todos!


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