I have now been home in Reno for a week and it feels great! As I look back on my trip to Chile, I realize that it went by soooo fast. Four weeks really isn’t that long of a time and it almost feels like I never left.
Contrary to how I felt returning from Spain last summer, I was very excited to return home from Chile to relax and enjoy my summer with my family. I cherished every moment I spent in Chile, but I think the winter weather finally got to me and I began to wish for my warm summer in Reno. I was constantly checking the weather in Reno while I was gone just to see how much warmer it was than the 50 degree chilly weather in Chile (unintentional pun). It also didn’t help that I got very sick while I was there. At that point, all I wanted was to meet with my doctor and rest in the comfort of my own home and bathroom.
Regardless of that, I am so thankful for everything my host family did to accommodate me during my four week stay. I felt so comfortable living with them and it really became not only a second home for me, but also a second family. They reminded me so much of my family at home and I enjoyed every second of it. I lived in a pretty large two-story house with six other people…my host parents, their two sons, one of whom had a girlfriend and a 4 year old daughter that also lived in the house. They were the sweetest family and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. My last night in Santiago, my host mom put two flags on the table for dinner, one Chilean flag and one American flag. It represented bringing two cultures together under one roof and appreciating the time we spent together. They also got me a going away gift! A framed photo of my friend Emily and I from Dunas de Concón, and a Chile beanie. I almost burst into tears knowing how thoughtful it was for them to get me a gift when I was the one who should be thanking them for everything. I cried leaving my host mom that next day because the relationship I built with her was very strong. She became one of my best friends in Chile and I felt like I could talk to her about anything, much like my own mom in the States. I was sad to leave, but also happy because of all the great memories I built with them. One day I hope they can come visit Reno and I can show them all that my hometown has to offer. What really got me was when Valentina (my host parent’s granddaughter) told me she would miss me. She reminded me so much of my niece at home and I will definitely miss playing with her after dinner. To savor the moment, I took some pictures with my host family, as well as my host home which you can find below!
Upon returning to Reno, I was a little more aware of what reverse culture shock would bring which made the transition easier. This time around, I was so excited to be home and reunited with my family, friends and my dog of course. Summer is my favorite time of year in Reno because there are so many fun events going on and it really makes summer a memorable time of year for me. Knowing that I have two more months of vacation, I’m ready to savor every minute of it.
I am especially looking forward to taking some time to focus on myself and improving my health. Right now, I still cannot do all the things I really want to throughout the day without having to plan when I’m going to need to use the bathroom. I go through each day with caution but I’m trying not to let it get to me. My doctor actually told me that my anxiety level surrounding my disease has improved immensely since I was first diagnosed. He was proud of me for still going on my trip even though I wasn’t feeling 100% beforehand. I can’t let this set-back keep me from doing the things I love and I refuse to let it control my life. I will continue to fight against this for the rest of my life no matter the circumstances.
Once I start to improve, I will no longer have restrictions in my daily life and that is something I am definitely looking forward to. This time is for me and I really need to take advantage of it before I go back to school because school is one of the main aspects of my life that causes stress. I only have one semester left before I graduate in December, so I want to make this last one memorable and most importantly, stay healthy!
I realize that every time I leave Reno for a long time and come back, I always appreciate this city so much more. Reno may be small and some people don’t particularly admire that, but I love living in a city where I know I have people I can count on. Reno has so much to offer and I wish everybody could see that from the outside. There is so much room for growth and opportunity here and I am excited to see what Reno has in store for the coming years. Reno will forever be home to me no matter where I end up in the future.
Ultimately, I am so grateful for the opportunities that have been handed to me during my time at UNR, especially with USAC. I couldn’t thank them enough for all they have done for me and the support I have received from them. Being able to experience two different study abroad programs during my undergraduate career is something not many people get to say and I think it will set me apart from others when applying for jobs in the future. I am hoping that my cultural experience and improved Spanish skills will come in handy in my future career path and I am excited to put that knowledge to the test.