Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with the International Studies department at SIU. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.
I’ve been feeling all sorts of philosophical the past few days. This is probably because I returned from the magical San Pedro just a few days ago. My Lonely Planet guidebook tells me “they” say all the quartz and copper in the area give people positive energy and good vibes. That’s probably it.
ANYWAY, you know how everyone says that people travel and study abroad to find themselves, you know, to really find out who they are? Sounds cool, right? I wasn’t really sure what it meant and I’ve never really felt like I didn’t really know who I was, but it sounds fulfilling.
I still don’t really know what it means, but I think it’s happening to me. I’m hungry for knowledge and longing to see more of the world.
I decided to go to San Pedro with 3 of my friends here who are also studying abroad. I’ll just say they grew up in areas that gave a little better opportunity for fitness and outdoor activities. It was nearly impossible for me to keep up with them. I have to admit that during a trek through Valle de Jere in Toconao near San Pedro I was a little irritated at first. I was having a hard time keeping up with the guide, as was everyone else aside from my crazy-fit friends. Anyway, the more time I spend here the more physically and mentally strong I become. The more trekking, biking, climbing, running, swimming, camping, and backpacking I do, the better I am. Not only will I be strong enough to keep up by the end of my time in Chile, but I will also be able to make my own path and be my own guide. Just by the end of this trekking adventure, I was so much more comfortable on my own feet– jumping from rock to rock.
Although my classes here seem a little easy, I feel the same way about my studies. By learning about Chile’s art, politics, history, landscape, etc. it makes me want to learn more about my own country and the rest of the world.