For as long as I could remember, I have always wanted to study abroad. However, I am so accustomed to being in my comfort zone that breaking free from it is challenging. The prospect of real travel seemed far away until the day I noticed that Pepperdine was offering a one-week study trip to Santiago, Chile.
I was overwhelmed with excitement. I ran to my sister Stephanie, who is also in the Bachelor of Science in Management (BSM) program at Pepperdine, and informed her about the possible adventure.
She was excited. Then, her expression changed.
“Jen, how are we going to afford this trip?”
My enthusiasm deflated. But then I realized that the experiences I would gain from this opportunity are far more valuable than the expense.
Before we knew it Stephanie and I were counting our pennies, our bags were packed, and we were airport bound.
The next thing we knew we arrived in BEAUTIFUL Santiago, Chile.
L.A. Ladies in Santiago
Before leaving for Santiago, we attended a mandatory meeting reviewing our basic itinerary of daily activities for the week. Following this meeting, I had a reasonable idea of what to expect. It wasn’t until I arrived that I began to comprehend the essence of Chile.
My first impression was how beautiful and modern the city appeared. It was not until my group and I participated in the city tour game that I realized how much history Santiago possesses. It is absolutely nothing like Los Angeles; it has more of a European feel.
Some of the buildings date to the early 1800’s. The windows of the buildings, the textiles, and the monuments, all made me feel like I was traveling back in time.
When our city tour game was finished my group gathered at a local Irish bar and came to four conclusions about Santiago.
- The people of Santiago showed the most affection of any city I have visited. It was nice to see couples expressing their love so openly.
- Numerous stray dogs made every inch of cement their home. I’m surprised I didn’t take one home.
- Chileans were the friendliest, most patient and welcoming people I have encountered. When I was trying to speak to them in Spanish they were so patient in trying to understand what I was asking them.
- I knew I was going to fall in love with Chile.
After participating in the city tour game, I started to feel VERY comfortable with Santiago.
It was not until I had to ask a Chilean where Santa Lucia Hill was located that I experienced some anxiety over the experience. I asked the question in broken Spanish and got a rapid and fluent Spanish response. I quickly realized 95% of Chileans speak and understand ONLY Spanish. The minimal words I knew became useless when trying to communicate my needs.
Note to self for next trip: learn basic communication in the foreign language of a country before entering.
A Brief Visit to Valparaiso…
Valparaiso is a city full of color and contrast. This is a fitting description since it is known as the city of graffiti. Every building and home was a different color and style.
On top of the hill, there were not many people roaming the streets, which caused some of my classmates to describe Valparaiso as depressing and lonely. However, I thought the city had an eerie beauty to it.
Toward the bottom of the hill, the city was more crowded and busy.
We were only there for a short time. The one thing I can proudly say is that I rode one of the oldest and most famous funiculars in the world.
What is a funicular, you ask?
To the locals it is known as a type of lift called an Ascensor. It is basically a cable car railway; the only difference is it is oriented on an incline rather than a flat surface. At first, I was frightened because the car seemed unstable. But I survived. I will never forget my ride on the Ascensor or my trip to Valparaiso.
Worth Every Penny
This one-week study abroad was definitely an experience of a lifetime for my sister and me. I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to travel to Santiago, Chile during my undergraduate program. This trip made me appreciate a different culture and what it has to offer.
This trip has also given me a broader perspective of the world we live in as it relates to our home country. I recommend every BSM student to travel abroad before they graduate because there is no substitute for learning about a country through travel; this is in stark contrast to the dry one-dimensional learning offered in books. At first I was hesitant about spending the money to take this trip, but after coming home I have realized that the memories were worth every penny.
Jennifer Rivera, BSM/MBA Candidate '15
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