What I have learned: Part Three

Molly Cunningham
July 14, 2017

Hello! This is the last time I will be writing from Santiago because I leave tomorrow for my long journey home. In this post, I will finish the three-part series I’ve started and I’ll talk about what I’ve learned!

My experience in Santiago has taught me a lot about the world, Chile, and myself. Although I was only in Chile for eight very, very short weeks, I feel like now I have a greater appreciation for a language I’ve been studying since the fifth grade and a culture that I haven’t been exposed to before.

As one of our last IES Abroad classes, our instructor asked, “If you could see your whole trip before you came, would you still have come to Chile?” My answer is yes and then I would tell myself to start planning a return trip so I can do all the things that I wanted to do but ran out of time before I could get them done.

My experience is almost exactly how I wanted it to be. I really wanted to go to Atacama, which is the famous desert in the North, but with being really sick and needing to desperately sleep every weekend to recuperate, I just ran out of time. Like I told my host family, it just means that I have to come back and see them again!

The highlights of my experience have been my internship and my Chilean family. People may say that they had the best host family and they’re all lying to you. When I was still in America filling out the pre-departure forms, they asked what your preferences are and what you want your family to be like. With my family, it was a perfect match.

In my Chilean family, I am their gringa daughter or sister. My host mom introduced me to her family at a birthday party as her “hija de los Estados Unidos.” My host mom reminds me constantly that the apartment is my house and overall, I just feel so comfortable there. Plus, Jimena, my host mom, is a great cook and so I’ve enjoyed eating everything that she makes for me.

One of the most special moments that I’ve had is having my Chilean mom “meet” my American mom. I was going to Facetime my American mom and Jimena said to tell her hello so I asked if she wanted to talk to her and she did. So, we sat together and I translated back and forth and it was one of the greatest moments of my time in Chile.

So, what have I learned from my experience? Well, a lot of things for sure. Long after this post is published and I’m back in the U.S., I’ll be coming up with things that I’ve learned and how this experience has impacted me. However, here are some highlights:

  1. I’ve learned that I have terrible balance and that I need to work on that. I know it is a random thing to learn but after almost face planting every time I’ve taken a micro (bus), it’s time for some balance exercises.
  2. My confidence has definitely improved since being in Chile, especially when it comes to speaking in Spanish. Like I’ve mentioned before, this was my first time in a country with Spanish as the native language and it was really hard to adjust at first. Now, I feel more confident expressing myself in Spanish. It’s been nice because both my supervisor and family have said that my Spanish has improved. I agree. Now, I know that I need to work on learning more vocabulary and we’ll be set for my next trip here.
  3. WHO KNEW THAT BREAD WAS SUCH A BIG DEAL IN CHILE? I am definitely NOT complaining because Chilean bread is amazing and I’ve googled where to find Chilean bread in Chicago and I failed so now I’m sad. Is bread an agricultural product because I might smuggle a suitcase full of bread home with me. It’s amazing; words cannot describe how much I love the bread here.
  4. I can see myself being the social media director for an organization or business after learning how to run social media pages during my internship. I thought that maybe I would be interested in this type of work but now, I know for sure that I’m definitely interested in learning more about social media and maybe making a career out of it.
  5. I really enjoy having a busy schedule that is packed with things to do. I honestly miss having classes and meetings every week like I do when I’m at school. I learned that I am very much a college student and in two years, hopefully, I’ll be ready for the professional world.
  6. Living next to mountains is amazing and I’m going to miss seeing the sunrise over the Andes every morning when I’m getting ready for work.
  7. Smog is the worst and we need to help our planet combat pollution because sometimes those beautiful sunrises and sunsets are ruined by the smog and it hurts my soul.
  8. Spanish speakers will say that Chileans speak “bad” Spanish. It’s not bad; it’s just so fast and then they add Chilean words to the mix and that’s where I struggle. It’s not bad Spanish; it’s just different Spanish and it takes more than eight weeks to get used to it.
  9. Like with most countries, you can’t judge it by just one city. I’m not going to be making generalizations about the U.S. just because of Chicago or Bloomington, IN. So, there is so much more to Chile than just Santiago and since I wasn’t able to travel anywhere except around Santiago, I can’t truly speak about Chile as a whole.
  10. I didn’t expect Chilean public transport to be so crowded. Taking the metro during rush hour is probably one of the worst things I’ve witnessed and participated in. I never want to be shoved into a metro ever again.


I’ve had a wonderful time in Chile, despite the smog and being sick for a large chunk of my trip. I think I would tell the pre-planning Molly to pack more cold medicine and all the tissue packs that I took out of my suitcase at the last minute.


As my time in Chile comes to end, I’m extremely grateful for my experience and all I can say is that I’m going to miss my Chilean family and Chilean bread.

Molly Cunningham

<p>My name is Molly and I am studying and working in Santiago. I&#39;m a Journalism and Spanish majors from Brookfield, Illinois. Follow along during my experience in Santiago and hopefully you&#39;ll learn something!</p>

2017 Summer 1, 2017 Summer 2
Home University:
Indiana University
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