I’m about 3 and 1/2 weeks out from my study abroad trip to Santiago, Chile. It’s getting closer and it’s getting more real. I chose to study abroad so that I could fully immerse myself into Spanish culture, in order to learn the language more fully. Luckily, with the help of scholarships from my affiliate program and from the Education Abroad office, program cost hasn’t been that much of an issue. However, it has been a little bit stressful to get together other smaller costs, like my plane ticket, sublease fees for my apartment, and textbooks. But even through all of the stress, I’m trying to keep in mind what all this experience will do for me. I’m going to learn how to live in a different city, in a different culture, using a new language. I’m going to be able to make new friends and reconnect with old friends that have studied in Alabama’s ELI program before. I’m going to gain new confidence in myself through this new journey. Focusing on the positive and exciting aspects of studying abroad helps to ease the stress that comes with all of the trip preparation.

All summer I have been working on getting ready for my fall study abroad. There is a lot more to be done than I originally considered, but I know it will all be worth it when I am finally in Santiago in a few weeks. I finally received my visa this past week and my Spanish textbooks are being shipped to me as I type. But now that it’s almost time to leave, panic mode is creeping in a little bit. This will be my first time going out of the country and I’m doing it all by myself. That may not seem like a big deal to most people who have traveled a lot before and I’m definitely excited to finally be going, but it is still a crazy big deal. Again, it helps to focus on all of the good things I will be gaining from this experience, but it doesn’t mean I won’t miss a lot of things in the States. I’m going to miss my family and my friends. I’m going to miss football games and bonfires and Thanksgiving. I’m going to miss my church and my roommates. There are a lot of things about Tuscaloosa that I will miss, but I believe Santiago offers plenty of opportunity for excitement and adventure, and I’m ready to experience all of it.

Ultimately, I hope to gain more confidence in myself through this trip. If I can dive right in to a new culture and succeed in making the best of every day abroad, I can do that pretty much anywhere! It will be interesting to see how I go about this on my own, but I’m excited to learn how to handle new experiences.