Study Abroad: Not what I expected

Everyone’s experiences are different, some more challenging than others

I flipped through pages of the black spiral notebook I used while in Chile, fingers brushing over hastily scrawled notes written in anticipation of upcoming travels. I tore out randomized papers from the “Cultura Chilena” (Chilean Culture) Spanish class I took while I was there and stashed them in a blue folder to submit to my Spanish adviser at NDSU.

Last Wednesday at 11:30 I walked into her office and plopped down in a chair, ready to explain the class units and review essays and exams so she could determine if it would fulfill the requirements for my minor. After a coursework discussion that took less than five minutes, our conversation wandered to my experiences in Chile.

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Chillin’ in Santiago

When people ask me if studying abroad was the time of my life, I’ve always hesitated.

“It was quite the learning experience!” I respond honestly.

So as I sat in my adviser’s office, staring at a shelf of colorful Spanish textbooks and other resources, I wondered if she would fault me for admitting that studying abroad wasn’t what I expected – it hadn’t been the walk in the park I anticipated. Continue reading

Horse racing in Chile – It’s a small world

My first experience at a Chilean racetrack was nothing less than aWESOME

Ever since arriving in Viña (as the city is fondly called) I’ve been dying to check out the racetrack. My bus drives past the Valparaiso Sporting Club on its way to deliver me to classes, and my university, situated on a hill overlooking the city, provides a convenient view of the track. My breaks between classes are generally spent sitting in the lush, vibrantly green grass and watching the morning workouts. Yes, I do believe I picked the right place to study, and I swear I didn’t even plan that!

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Morning workouts

My curiosity got the best of me last Thursday, and I walked to the track for morning workouts, which are apparently not as common for people to watch as they are in the states. I bypassed the open door where maintenance staff was entering the grandstands, not wanting to tempt fate and have a run-in with security guards. Instead I played it safe and stood next to a low gate along the outside rail of the turf course. It wasn’t an up close and personal view, but I wasn’t complaining. I attached the zoom lens to my camera and started snapping away.

Aside from two or three who I saw putting in timed workouts, the majority of the Thoroughbreds here gallop without saddles, just a pad and a girth. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed, nothing like the bustling morning traffic at Saratoga. Continue reading