This past week has been hands down my most favorite. Although the first two weeks were jam packed with adventure, field placements, meetings, and other various events, this week was where I was able to find my own. I was able to go at my own pace and see things that I wanted to see. I felt more free than I ever have because I was able to figure my way throughout this huge and beautiful city. I faced my fear and took the metro during rush hour where I was pressed up against the window due to how packed it was, but it made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Weird, I know...but it was a hurdle that I never thought I would be able to get over. Another feeling that I felt this week was the feeling of being independent. I wasn't scared to walk the streets of Santiago alone, I wasn't constantly looking down in worry that someone would look at me or stop and talk to me, and I walked in the crowds of hundreds of people with my head held high and taking in every sight, smell, and sound surrounding me.
Yes, I am going to miss all of the children and teachers that I have met at the various field placements, but I am going to miss the friends that I have made here. My pen pal, Claudio, has become someone that I know I will be in contact with after I leave here. He went out of his way to show me the city like a true Chilean and just bonded with me over our similar personalities. Along with Claudio, I am going to miss all of our friends from Universidad Mayor. I have created these everlasting friendships with people who genuinely care about not only my experiences in Chile, but my life as a whole. We are already planning on when they will be able to come visit Buffalo again and when I will be able to step foot in this beautiful city again.
Friday night, they threw us a private roof top BBQ and it was probably the best night I have had here thus far. It was such a relaxed environment and full of great conversation and laughter. We danced and sang Spanish songs and ate wonderful food. We weren't keeping track of the time because we were just having fun and enjoying each other's company. Saying "goodbye" to them was one of the hardest things that I have had to do. These people have become my comfort and support while in Chile, and they have become some of my best friends. I will never forget the lasting imprint everyone has left on my heart, and I know we will still continue these friendships when I am back home in the States.
Chile was an adventure. I grew not only professionally, but I was able to figure out more about myself. I absolutely see traveling as a way to explore the world but to find out who you really are and what you are capable of. It takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you really push yourself. I will travel as much as I can and Chile was a great way to start.