Jean Rust is a student at Wichita State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jean just finished studying with Veritas Abroad in Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile.
I’ve been home a few short weeks. I’m still experiencing some reverse culture shock, but that’s wearing down as the time ticks by. And now I’m in reflection mode.
Before my Chilean adventure, I made a list of the things that I wanted to accomplish — not exactly your typical bucket list, but rather some loose ideals to shape my time abroad.
Looking back, I believe that I accomplished them, somewhat differently than I had originally intended to, but isn’t that where the adventure lies? Here’s a recap of the goals and my final thoughts.
Challenge my view of the world
During my time in Chile, I met some wonderful people from all over the world: a Danish friend at school, a Chinese friend at church, a Canadian, Dutch, and some Australians in the middle of a desert, American friends from school and ISA, and of course some Chileans. We all have different backgrounds and experiences and world views. I had some deep discussions about education, rights issues and just the explanation of different perspectives. I’ve learned that life is a different experience for each and every one of us. That’s what keeps it exciting.
Have my picture taken with the piano stairs of Valpo
Done. Plus, I was able to experience some of the other wonderful street art that Valparaíso has to offer. It was pretty great to have amazing murals at my bus stop, near friends’ houses and on random corners. I’m definitely going to miss the colors of Valpo.
Improve my Spanish
Definitely happened. Very few Chileans know enough English to have a prolonged conversation. Especially compared to other Spanish-speaking countries. Therefore, I had to speak Spanish to accomplish almost anything. My host family didn’t speak English; some of my friends spoke a bit, but not much. Three out of four of my classes were taught in Spanish. Spanish was a necessity, and I definitely improved. I arrived in Chile embarrassed to open my mouth and say something stupid and after two days back in the United States I found myself already missing the language.
I definitely learned. I learned about Chile. I learned Spanish. I learned about myself. I learned to open myself up to a new culture and experience what Chile had to teach me; and Chile taught me a great deal. I’ve learned to appreciate more and more what I have. I’ve learned to give more (time, money, resources). I’ve learned to wait patiently (Chileans aren’t exactly known for being on time). I’ve learned to accept changes. I’ve learned to give up control and just enjoy the ride.
Experience everything God has in store for me
I’m leaving Chile a different person than when I arrived. I’ve seen God work in my life and the lives of those around me. I’ve grown in my faith and in my relationship with Christ. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people. I’m sad to leave, but I’m also excited to see what God has in store for my life. I’m not sure where He is leading me or what He has in store, but I know that He has the best in mind. And I know I can trust Him. God has shown me that He can do wonderful things through His followers. He can do so much more than we can think or imagine.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.