It feels like just yesterday when I opened my email up to a flier advertising a study abroad opportunity in Santiago, Chile. I am usually the type of person to ignore such emails, deleting them before opening and sending them right to the "trash." Why did I decide to open this one? ...I had just gotten back from my honeymoon in St. Lucia and had the itch to continue traveling, to see the world. Who knew there was so much out there? Not that I want to admit it, but I certainly did not...
It is hard to believe that in just two short weeks I will be more than 5,000 miles away from the one place I've always felt most comfortable; my own little bubble. This is the first time I will be flying outside of the U.S. without a family member occupying the seat next to mine. Yikes! There are so many emotions running through me. I am beyond nervous to travel, to put myself in a completely different country...one that I know little about. I am excited to spend three weeks in a beautiful country and get to know the other girls in the program who I will be traveling with and my host family. I am eager to see all that Chile has to offer, to learn and grow as a person, to meet new people and try new foods. I am so thankful to have already begun making connections and creating relationships with teacher candidates in Chile, especially my pen pal Christine, which helps ease my concerns!
Preparations for this opportunity began back in January. I've learned more about Chile, have started to brush up on the Spanish language (which I have not spoken since I was an 8th grader!), and I have began to build a foundation for teaching English learners. And now here we are. 14 more days. Time sure does fly.
My name is Natalie and I am a graduate student at Buffalo State College in the special education program. I have been given this amazing opportunity to really grow not only as a student, but as a teacher and a person. Through this experience my hope is that I get to know myself better as an individual; develop a deeper understanding of the Chilean geography, culture and language; and gain a different perspective on the possibilities within the classroom. I hope that you follow me on this journey and learn right alongside me.