By Morgan Kroeger
Traveling. Some call it an art. Others call it a hobby. I call it an education. Because no matter where you go, no matter the length of time, you are bound to learn something. After deciding I wanted to add a second major in Spanish, I realized that one of the requirements was studying abroad. So study abroad I did. I packed my bags, triple-checked my paperwork and boarded the plane to Santiago, Chile. It was New Year’s Eve and the fireworks that shot off over Cuba as midnight struck described how my study abroad would be perfectly: Colorful, exciting, and when it ended, I was shocked by how quickly time had passed.
One of my favorite memories from Chile was the adventure of returning to my host city of Valparaíso after a weekend excursion to the Atacama Desert. I was in a group of three, the only woman. We left at 4 p.m., expecting to be back by midnight. Yet on the six-step process to return, our bus broke down. We were in the middle of nowhere with a bus driver who laughed at me every time I asked him where we were.
Eventually, one of the men talked to him and got us a taxi. Upon arriving at the tent and tarmac, which they called an airport, we found out our airplane, had been delayed. We begged the airline to get us on the next flight to Santiago so that we could catch our prepaid bus home. Our fear and frustration heightened when this flight was also delayed, meaning that we would miss the last bus of the night to Valparaíso and be stuck in this “airport” with no food or phones.
By the time we arrived back in Santiago at 2 a.m., we had been awake for about 23 hours. All I knew was that we had to be in class at 9 a.m. and our host families had no idea where we were. I was worried, annoyed and beyond exhausted. I just wanted to go home, but I knew that meant arguing with the airline so they would pay for a taxi to take us to Valparaíso at 2 a.m. Imagine everyone’s surprise when a sleep-deprived blonde woman began intensely speaking like a native. Somehow we made it back to our host homes by 4 a.m. – I still can’t believe the airline paid for our taxi! I felt so accomplished despite all that had gone wrong. It was in that moment I knew my study abroad had paid off.
I studied abroad in order to better my Spanish so that one day I can work internationally. I learned one thing very quickly – fluency doesn’t come without immersion. Immersion pushed my language skills in ways classroom learning could not. Though studying abroad pushed my limits, I survived and learned to flourish. Studying abroad has been the most beneficial asset to my education thus far.
For more information on studying abroad, contact Morgan Kroeger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morgan Kroeger in a junior Spanish and accounting double major.