How Valparaíso Has Taught Me to Appreciate the Beauty Around Me

Mackenzie Murray is a student at Messiah College and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valparaíso, Chile.

As someone who grew up in small-town, rural Pennsylvania, living in the city is a strange and new experience for me.  Though it has been quite the adjustment, living in Valparaíso has taught me to appreciate the beauty that can be found not only in the ocean bordering this city but also in among the buildings and the people.

Valparaíso is bordered by the Pacific Ocean where several cargo ships are importing and exporting goods daily.  Regardless of how busy this area is, the wildlife is plentiful! Several species of seabirds can be found in this area, including pelicans.  Another local resident is the sea lions who love to sunbathe on buoys and other structures in the water.  Living near an ocean has led me to appreciate the diversity and resiliency of life in an area dominated by humans.

Valparaíso is literally a city on a hill; something that I have grown to appreciate.  The city is located next to the ocean which brings strong winds, on a fault resulting in devastating earthquakes, and is founded in particularly hilly and rocky topography.  In learning more about the city, its residents, and its history, I have a deeper appreciation for the hands that built Valparaíso and the people who choose to live here.  Valparaíso is very diverse in that it is touristic, but also the main hub for hard jobs in the port.  It also is diverse in its people; tourist and resident, rich and poor.  The city-scape is an example of the beauty that can be found in diversity among people.

Valparaíso is well-known for its diverse and colorful graffiti located all around the city.  I have grown to truly appreciate these murals, as they are a touch of beauty, life, and expression otherwise not evident in this city.  Though graffiti is something that is generally a negative concept in the United States, these bright splashes of color and personality are something lively and infamous to Valparaíso.  Otherwise drab buildings are laced with bright images reflecting the hearts and minds of Chileans who live here.

Prior to my experience of living in the city, I often found beauty solely in nature and less so in man-made things.  Living in Valparaíso has shown me that beauty is something that can be seen in even the most material of places in the world.  The creativity of those who constructed a city strong enough to face winds, earthquakes, and water on the side of hills and cliffs, the personality of those who created works of art of the walls of otherwise plain buildings, and the abundant life in and around the ocean have proven to be beautiful sights that I will appreciate for years to come.  When you step outside of your surroundings and into a place that may seem like a whole other world, you grow to appreciate where you come from and where you are now.  Beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder with an open mind.

The world awaits…discover it.

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