Hello family and friends! First, this is my first real blog post so please bear with me. As I hope most of you know by now this fall I will be studying abroad in Chile with the Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University through their Chilean Universities Program in Santiago, Chile. I will depart from Lambert Airport in St. Louis in mid-July and will return mid to late December. I think back to my junior and senior years at good Ole’ Slater High in Slater, MO. I always talked about going abroad and eventually working in the international business field but in the back of my head I always thought, “Well, I can always dream.” Well, over the last year and a half I realized I could come one step closer to my academic and career goals. Last April I applied to go on three DePauw Winter-Term Off-Campus Study course trips. My top choice was Spain and Portugal, second China and third Greece and Italy. Come the end of April 2009 I found out I was accepted to go on the Spain and Portugal Winter-Term course trip that was entitled “The Changing Role of Food in Spain and Portugal.” So in January of this year I hopped on a plane at the Indianapolis airport and flew to Chicago to meet the rest of my group so we could catch our flight to Madrid, Spain. Note, that this was my first flight ever. It was a little scary but after my flying around Spain and Portugal for two weeks, let’s just say I love to fly now. I had an amazing time in Spain and Portugal and finally being able to say I want to go into the international business or international relations career field with actual international travel behind me makes it feel as though I can declare my aspirations and goals in life without that feeling of, “That’s never going to happen.”
All last fall, as I prepared to go to Spain and Portugal this past January I researched and researched options for me to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country. I looked at program costs, cost of living, etc., etc. in many Latin American countries as well as Spain and Portugal. I finally came across the program that I knew was for me. I went through the very time consuming application process of applying to study abroad through DePauw and once I got approved by my home institution I started looking specifically at what I needed to do to apply to the IFSA-Butler Chile Program. Once I returned from Europe in January and got over my jet lag I applied to the program and within just a fews weeks was notified that I had been accepted. I was sitting in my microeconomics class, shhh, checking my email when I received the email from IFSA-Butler with my acceptance notice. I couldn’t believe it. There were still 40 minutes left of class and I could not focus at all. I eventually got up and walked outside and called my mom. I just couldn’t wait, I had to call her and let her know.
Now I wait anxiously to depart for South America this summer. I’ve secured a job this summer so I can earn some good money to one pay off my credit card bill from Europe and secondly to allow for me to live comfortably while I spend my fall semester in Chile. I have begun the process of applying for my student visa which I’ve found to be a very interesting endeavor. A couple weeks ago I found my self at the Greencastle, IN police department. No worries, it was just to get my fingerprints taken so I could request an FBI Background check which will be one of many documents I will need to send in to the Chilean Consulate in Chicago to get my visa. As I wait for my FBI Background Check “Record” to come back I am anxiously awaiting to find out the dates for my program with IFSA-Butler so I know when I will need to leave for sure to get to Santiago in time for international student orientation. Today I received an email with the subject line that read, “Program Dates Update and Visa Reminder.” Well, I was excited to see the words program dates but come to find out I must continue waiting for them. I didn’t really notice the word, “update” that followed. Since the major earthquake hit central Chile right before the start of Chilean University’s spring semesters, their academic calendar’s were thrown off. Chilean Universities began spring classes a week late due to the major earthquake and now universities across the impacted region are debating whether or not to push the start of fall semester courses back a week or to start on time as previously scheduled. So, needless to say this is why I don’t know when I’ll be leaving for Chile. I will add when the earthquake struck Chile I was at my fraternity’s leadership conference at SIU in Carbondale, IL and my mom called me and said that I’m not going to Chile. Well, she scared me to death as I hadn’t been accepted into the program at that point and I didn’t know if it would be canceled or not. Thankfully, Santiago suffered minimal damage and the program was not canceled. Well, I am going to wrap this up. I want to thank all my family and friends for all their support as I continue to work hard to achieve my academic and career goals. As I wait anxiously, to find out the program dates for my program, to get my student visa and in literally about three months to leave for Chile I can’t help but think what a challenging but life changing experience this will be for me.