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Chile — Fall 13

Anna Kearns
Global studies major / International Economics and MLLI (Spanish) minors

 

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During my time here at UMBC, I’ve learned that humanities majors generally have a lot of flexibility, meaning you’re easily able to take classes in what interests you most – and develop new interests along the way! I recently returned from Valparaíso, Chile, where I studied abroad for the Fall 2013 semester, an experience that led me to add a major in Global Studies and a minor in Spanish.

As I entered UMBC as an Asian Studies major, I dreamed of studying abroad in South Korea (and continue to do so!), but I’m so happy that my freshman year Spanish course led me to want to further develop my proficiency in the language. While I knew little about Chile when I arrived in the country, it quickly dawned on me that a semester-long language learning adventure awaited me. While I had taken Spanish in high school and at UMBC, Chilean Spanish turned out to be different than anything I’d ever heard spoken before. Thanks in part to the language, my experience abroad helped me develop a much fuller understanding of the diversity this world has to offer. My classes, almost all of which were exclusively in Spanish, offered me knowledge regarding the political history, literary prowess and cultural customs of a country which I’d learned next to nothing about during my world history classes in high school.

When I wasn’t in class or studying, I spent my time both exploring the city I lived in and traveling up and down the longest country in the world. I never dreamed of having the opportunity to accomplish some of the things I did. During my time abroad, I rode a horse, rafted, zip lined, sand boarded, raced in a 10K, and pet a llama, all for the first time in my life.

Perhaps the most rewarding part of my Chilean experience was meeting the wonderful people I met, and knowing that, had I not seized the opportunity to go abroad, I never would have been given the chance to get to know some of the people I now consider to be among my closest friends. During the five months I attended classes, I lived with and grew close to my loving host family. As no one in my family spoke English, communicating was challenging at first, but ultimately I learned more than I could have imagined about the language, culture, and customs of Chile from my “mamá” and “papá.”

While some call studying abroad the experience of a lifetime, I hope to trek across the globe once again. I plan on studying abroad in South Korea for a semester during my junior year and am looking forward to being able to experience the life and culture on the other side of the Pacific.

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