Sarah’s Summer Plans

By: Sarah MacLean

Greetings from Santiago, Chile!

I’m currently about halfway through my semester studying abroad in Chile’s capital city and I’ve absolutely loved my experience so far. During the past several weeks, I’ve been able to take advantage of so many new opportunities to improve my Spanish speaking abilities and learn about all that Chile has to offer. I’ve really enjoyed learning about Chilean culture, which on the outside seems so similar to our culture in the United States but is full of subtle differences. It’s been interesting trying to explain to people here that North Carolina is actually in the South and that it is actually possible for me to major in Global Studies and apply to medical school after graduating.

For the semester, I’m living with a host family in a great part of the city, and I think I’m finally getting used to living with a cat. In addition to studying Spanish, I’m taking classes on Latin American history and Chilean geography through both a study abroad program for students from the US and the Catholic University of Chile. I’m also part of a clinical observation program that allows me to shadow doctors and nurses at both public and private health centers in Santiago, which has been a very informative experience. I’ve spent the past several weeks trying to establish myself in the city and explore everything that it has to offer, from the artisan markets and dance clubs downtown to the beautiful Andes Mountains that are just a short bus ride away. I’m excited to start traveling more around Chile in the next few weeks, though, to experience the diversity of “that long, skinny country” first-hand.

I’m so thankful that, with the Eve Carson Scholarship, I’ll be able to extend my time here in South America. I already know that my departure from Chile in early July will be bittersweet, as I’ll be saying goodbye to a country I’ve come to love but I’ll be setting off for a new adventure in Peru. For the month of July, I’ll be volunteering with Manos Unidas [Hands Together], an organization in Cusco, Peru that provides special education services for children with developmental disabilities. I’m really excited to live with another host family in Cusco and get to work specifically with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders during my time with Manos Unidas. The organization is really supportive in molding the experience of each volunteer so that we can get the most out of our time with the program. I’m excited to see what new experiences I’ll have in Cusco and to get the opportunity to share my experiences on this blog!