Ihave been blessed to have the opportunity to live in Vina del Mar, Chile, for the past two months. I wish there was a way I could fully encompass this experience and share it with you, but words ring hollow and pictures fall short.
I had so many expectations for what this semester would be like, and although I was wrong about so many of them, I am far from disappointed. This semester has been the most unbelievable, adventurous, exhilarating, mind-blowing, overwhelming and encouraging experience of my life.
I have had the opportunity to experience three unique cultures: mainland Chile, Argentina and Easter Island. Chile is a bustling, mostly urban culture where life moves quickly; however, Easter Island stands alone, more than 1,000 miles from any other inhabitants, with a population of 6,000 people. The Rapa Nui people operate on “island time” and live peacefully, taking the time to notice and appreciate nature. Argentina is urban but is more spread out than most of Chile and runs on a much more relaxed schedule. The day starts late, and everything shuts down in the afternoon for people to rest during the heat of the day before they start up again and work until late in the evening.
Living among these people has opened my eyes and given me new perspective, but it has also given me the opportunity to have some really exciting experiences. Since being here, I have scuba dived off of Easter Island, rolled down giant sand dunes, hiked around a volcanic crater, drunk water from a glacier and gone horseback riding on the beach and galloped through the waves. I got spit on by an alpaca, rode a boat through icebergs, rode a 100-year-old elevator, explained to an Argentine man what a polar plunge was (he never really understood) and ate the best steak of my life and only paid $4 for it.
I have stood speechless in front of a mountain, looked out my window and saw the ocean, two castles and the president’s summer home, walked two miles to get to the store, bought jelly in a bag and had a funeral for a beta fish. I have lived beside a volcano for a week, whitewater rafted in Patagonia, ziplined across a canyon, missed free refills, missed free water, missed free bathrooms, ate every single meal outside for a week, bought groceries at the open air market and played peek-a-boo with a seal. I have learned a lot of Spanish, realized that my perception of South America was totally wrong and that there is much more to the world than the northern hemisphere, taken a lot of pictures and made it my goal to have at least one adventure per day and leave this place with no regrets.
If there is anything I have learned from living in this wonderful place, it is that no matter where you are or how busy you are, you have the chance to live life to the fullest. God’s majesty is clearly seen in the wonders he has made. Take the opportunity to have an adventure and experience his glory. Meet new people; go new places; take a new perspective; and bring glory to God everywhere you go.