Why You Should Explore Your Country Too

Emalydia Flenory is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently interning with ISA in Santiago, Chile.

Hot Springs, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, Flenory 1
The hot springs at San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

Doing an internship and trying to find the time to explore the country while you’re abroad can be a difficult balance. But even if you only have a couple of days to spare, go out and explore!

Chile is a very big country and, unlike countries in Europe, it can be very expensive and time consuming to travel around the country, let alone the continent. Despite this, I found time over the Chilean holiday weekend to travel north of Santiago to San Pedro, a city in the Atacama Desert—the driest desert in the world. I took a friend with me and we traveled by bus, which was a long 24 hours, but wasn’t terrible as it sounds. The travel buses here are nicer than any coach bus I’ve been on back in the U.S. The seats were roomy and reclined nearly flat and the movies they played were pretty new.

Santiago is the capital of Chile and is heavily populated and very urban. San Pedro is the complete opposite; it’s a much smaller city that was made for tourist.

Markets, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, Flenory 2
The markets of San Pedro de Atacama.

There are about five hostels on every block, and in between, touring agencies, restaurants and markets fill the street. My friend and I decided that even though we only had two days in that beautiful city, we were going to make the most of it! We decided on our first day to get established in our hostel and to wander around the city and shop a little bit. On the second day, we signed up for a hot spring tour during the day and a stargazing tour at night. Both of the tours were absolutely amazing and something I never would have been able to see had I stayed in the city where I interned.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, Flenory 3
A stunning view of San Pedro de Atacama.

Santiago is filled with beautiful hills and mountains, buildings, gardens and street art. I’m so glad I’m able to appreciate and see that every day, but I now feel like I understand more of the Chilean culture and the different types of people that live here.

So get out and see more than just your host city! Any country that you find yourself in has so much to offer and so many hidden gems to find. Although it’s tempting to travel outside of your country (which I’m certainly in favor of), I promise that exploring the country that you chose to be in will make that country feel like a second home to you.

Looking for an opportunity to get hands-on work experience and explore the world at the same time? Find out how you can make it happen!

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