While I write this I’m currently sitting in the Lima airport waiting for my flight back to The States. I was just chatting (in Spanish) with a girl at the airport. She asked me if I was Chilean, which is not a questions I’ve ever been asked, I told her no, but I had been living in Chile. She look surprised and told me I spoke very Chilean. Which for me was the highest compliment I could receive and was the perfect way to end my (almost) year living in Chile.
The past couple weeks I’ve been trying to reflect on what this past year has really meant to me and how it has changed me. I find it so important to reflect on our experiences and dig into how they shape us. So, after much time spent journaling and thinking I want to share a glimpse into what insights this past year has brought to me.
11 things learned during my 11 months in Chile
1. Language learning is a never-ending process
It’s hard. It’s confusing. It’s frustrating. and after 12 years studying Spanish I still sometimes have days where I feel I can’t form a coherent sentence. But other days I feel like it all just clicks and I’ve been speaking Spanish my whole life.
As an EAL (English as an Addition Language) teacher I think living where I had to speak my second language has given me such a deeper understanding of what my students need to help them succeeded. This is a lesson that can’t be taught in a class, it has to be experienced. So I’d like to think my past 6 months of technically being unemployed and relaxing on the beach was actually professional development at it’s finest..right? 😉
2. We can adapt to way more than we think we can
Simply that. We can do far more than we think we can, we just have to allow ourselves the oppertunity to try.
3. True Friends
With many goodbyes sprinkled through my last couple of days in Chile, and many reunions with my dear friends back home soon, living abroad as taught me a lot about friendship. Friends who you can go months, or years without seeing and having nothing change between you, are true friends. Nothing will ever change your relationship, and those are the people to keep close in life. ❤
4. If a job isn’t right for you, you can change it
Your life is about you and finding your happiness. A job that you dread every morning, that drains the life out of you, simply isn’t worth it.
5. You can have more than one home
Home is truly about where you have left your heart with the people you love, and it is a beautiful thing to have it sprinkled in many places.
6. Dogs make great friends
I’m a big animal fan. (I’ve been a vegetarian for the past 6 years..future blog post about that coming soon!) In Arica there are a lot of stray animals here and ones that do have homes typically wander freely up and down their street. The stray ones are well taken care of though, people set out food and water for them and even give them jackets in the winter. There were many dogs along my typical routes to Luka’s house, downtown, the grocery store, places I ran exc. So naturally, I began to acquire quite a few dog friends. I’d name them and say hi to them whenever I passed by. Maybe I’m a crazy stray dog lady, but they made me happy! 🙂 Here are some of my buddies
7. You always make friends
Friends can be found in a variety of places, and when people begin to recognize you, greet you, invite you to things you begin to belong. I found even the simplest of gestures can make you feel you belong in a place you clearly stick out in.
8. The hardest culture to understand is your own
There are so many subtle aspects of our own cultures that make up our thoughts and beliefs. It is challenging to tap into this and understand why we think and act the way we do. When you are immersed in a different culture it can force you to pay attention to these things, but I find it the hardest to pick apart and truly understand our own culture because it is so intertwined in who you are.
9. Love is extraordinary
I met my boyfriend at a party while he was studying abroad at my university the fall of 2014. He had just arrived at my university and was beginning to learn English. Fast forward 7 months and he left to go back home to Chile and after a year and a half of dating (living in different countries most of that time) I moved across the world to be with him and get to know his family and friends here in Chile. All of this just happened, none of it ever seemed forced, it just fell into place. It all worked out so precisely and so perfectly that it leaves me amazed at how extraordinary love is.
10. Bikes are WAY better than cars
I’m 100% biased on this because I passionately detest driving. Actually, one of my life goals is to live in places where I never need to own a car. 😉 Living in Arica, a place where the weather is perfect everyday and the city is relatively small, I could easily, while actively avoiding being hit by crazy drivers (there were only a few close calls) ride my bike anywhere in the city. Fresh air, being active and finding the perfect views of the city was the best way to get around, and my bike even had an adorable little basket that I could fill with fresh fruit or warm bread:)
11. I’m on the right path
The past couple of days saying goodbye to my friends and family in Chile wasn’t easy. I’m also a very emotional person and goodbyes always provoke lots and lots of tears. (I may have sat at the gate sobbing while everyone eyed the unstable little gringa). Even though it is hard to leave (especially to be apart from Luka for 9 months), I know I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing right in this moment. I’ve accepted an opportunity that is putting me on the path I need to be on. I truly believe, and have felt it as things start coming together, that this next chapter is perfectly timed and exactly where my journey needs to be taking me. To quote Macklemore:
“Go with the flow that the universe holds”
and that is exactly what I plan to keep doing.
I hope this chapter in your life is providing you with growth and new understandings.
Also, I want to thank each one of you that stops by this little blog, and I hope it is serving its purpose of spreading a little bit of happiness into your life. Always feel free to comment, or connect with me! I’d love to hear from you! I have lots of fun ideas to share with you guys in future posts! 🙂 Stay tuned!!
and as always, have a wonderful week filled with things that bring you joy!