It’s been a long time coming – one of the reasons that I chose the University of Oklahoma as the university that I wanted to attend was because of their international business program and how much they pushed and encouraged their students to study abroad. Since my first semester in college, I’ve wanted to study abroad in Chile. And now it’s finally here. I’m writing this from Vina del Mar, Chile. It’s a little beach town about 15 minutes north from Valparaiso and about 2 hours west of Santiago. I’ll be living here and studying here for the next four months! I’ve been here since February 25, so I have a lot of stuff to catch up on, but I wrote down a bunch of stuff on my phone that I’ll compile for these posts (thank goodness for technology).
So to start off: Getting to Vina
I was freaking out, but I didn’t know it. I was so excited to finally be doing something instead of just waiting around and packing, both dreading and being so excited for leaving. The adrenaline was finally kicking in, I was in the Dallas airport about to get onto my flight to Santiago, and it was awesome. Getting to Dallas had been a little rough – there had been problems with my original flight plan (the connecting flight was delayed, so when I checked in at the airport, I had had to change my flight plan up just a smidgen). But I got through security just fine, my bags were only a leeeeeeeetle bit over the weight limit (okay so one bag was 58 pounds, but I had a lot of cookies in there, don’t judge, I was able to fix it), and I got to the gate just fine. I was bothering the heck out of Trevor because I was so antsy and just wanted to take advantage of being able to talk to him without worrying about the constraints of Wifi (we take so much for granted in the U.S. – data and Wifi are two of those things), so I was texting him back at an annoyingly fast pace.
I got to Dallas. I was fine, I was excited, it was starting to sink in. I got my last meal in American (McDonald’s, because what else), and then ate by my gate and bombarded Trevor until about five minutes before boarding. Trevor called me to say bye before I left the country, and all of a sudden, I was freaking out and I knew it. I started tearing up at my gate (one poor American dad tried to get past me to plug his phone into the outlet column and he looked at me with such fear and uncertainty because males are generally not prepared with how to deal with a woman crying in public). Then I got on the plane and I couldn’t get comfortable. I thought that I should be so excited, maybe a little nervous, but mostly excited. But instead all I could focus on was the fact that I was in the middle seat, I was cramped, I was cold, and I was nauseous. I think I ate something off, because I woke up at 2 AM and felt like I was going to hurl. This feeling persisted the entire remaining seven hours of the flight. Pure stubbornness prevented me from hurling on that plane.
But then all of a sudden, we were almost there, I was filling out the customs form, and this was real. I was petrified about the whole visa thing (I wasn’t coming with a student visa but with a tourist visa) and apparently Chilean taxi drivers were supposed to be vicious and very persistent (they weren’t actually that bad, they just called you white girl and tried to get you to come with them but just master ignoring people and you should be good).
When I landed, I got onto the airport wifi and went through customs. That process went smoothly. Although the entire time I was lugging my 900 pounds of luggage around, I wished that I had brought less things (of course now that I’m settled into life here, I wish I had brought different things). I found the group of UVM students pretty well. At first I was looking for just our study abroad coordinator with a sign, so I ended up awkwardly sitting right under the exit sign that he said he would be at and failed to miss the group of UVM students sitting under the UVM sign. So I had to lug my 900 pounds of luggage across the airport hallway and then I just plopped down on the ground like a dignified lady, my suitcase standing blocks (the things that keep it from falling over) broke, so my luggage plopped down with me, and suddenly I was in Chile, about to start my new life for the next four months.