Abigail Howard Reflects on Her New Chilean Family | GW Chile
One of the most obvious benefits about studying abroad is meeting new people and attempting to understand the way that the people live in the country in which you are spending several months. As my time in Santiago, Chile is coming to an end, I have been reflecting on what I have learned, the people I have met, and the experiences I have had. I have come to the conclusion that the most rewarding part of my semester is the relationships I have built with Chileans, as well as those I have built with the other GW students studying on my program. I have realized making such good Chilean friends not only improved my classes and expanded my understanding of the culture, but helped with classes and led to further exploration of the city.
Living with a host family has truly showed me how Chileans live on a day-to-day basis. I have been able to see how adults and family celebrate holidays such as birthdays or Children’s Day, as opposed to just knowing how students my age live. I have bonded with my host family in a unique way because we live under the same roof, which has resulted in us having extremely rewarding conversations. Also, it is comforting to have a family who I can talk to when I am feeing down and a mother to take care of me when I am sick. Living with a host family at a time when you are so far away from your real family really does make a difference. My host mom and host sister are truly part family to me now and I am going to miss them terribly when I leave.
Although GW Chile offers 2 GW classes that are only for GW students, based on credits, we are required to take at least 2 other classes at the local universities. Some of my classes are with other GW students, but in some I am the only foreigner. Upon reflecting about my experience, I realized that the times when I meet the most people and make the most Chilean friends are when I am alone. All of my best friends in Santiago came from my Marketing class where I am the only foreigner. Putting myself out there made a huge difference because I established bonds with Chileans. Some of my fondest memories this semester include watching Chilean qualifier games for the World Cup, grilling for dinner, or just relaxing at the university, all with Chilean friends.
If you think about it, the people you surround yourself with really make or break your experiences and in this case it definitely made mine. I am extremely sad about leaving these new friends after only knowing them for a few months because they are the reason I love Chile so much. While I am excited to get back to DC and GWSB, I know I will miss my host family and friends, but thank goodness for Skype and Whatsapp!
Although I have talked a lot about Chileans, I do have to give a shout-out to GW Chile. The 12 other GW students on my program were my second family this semester. Almost everything I went through this semester, they experienced as well. They are the friends I mostly traveled with and are adventurous like me. I know they were always there for me, and I am so glad I do not have to say goodbye to them, since I will see most of them at GW next semester.
The relationships I built with new friends were definitely the best part about study abroad. These friendships will last me for years to come, and are a large part of the reason I want to return to Chile as soon as possible!
This is Abigail’s second post from Chile. Read her first here. Abigail is a GWSB junior seeking her BBA with a dual concentration in International Business and Sport, Event, and Hospitality Management.
To find out more information on GW’s Study Program in Chile, click here.