“It sounds cliche, but I changed a lot as a person.”
I knew I wanted to really speak Spanish, more than just all those years studying it and I felt so close. I choose Chile specifically because I have a Chilean uncle and grew up hearing about Chile from him and my cousins.
I lived very intentionally, so everything was interesting!! But, I would have to say when my internship sent me off by myself for the weekend to go work at a organic farmers market in the South. I ended up getting lodged by one of the farmers and his family on his farm and I learned a lot from them. The next night, I realized one of my Chilean friends in Santiago was visiting his family in this really small town, and we got together and (surprisingly enough, because this was a realllyyyy small town) did what we always did- went to a queer club. It was fun, and really interesting to live in more of a small town even if just for that extended weekend.
The language. My first many months there were really rough as I struggled to communicate and participate in daily life. However, as the months went by it cost me less and less, and eventually I was speaking just like a Chilean with all my friends and communication was not a problem!
Wake up, make my food for the day, go to school, come home and either go to work or study, and if it was a weekend, go out with friends.
I took tons of courses: sustainable agriculture, beekeeping, native plants of Chile, organic agro-ecology, environmental problems of Chile, farm animal management, representation of masculinities in popular music/ culture, and a film class. The classes were much more hands-on with lots of field trips (maybe that was because I was studying agriculture though, I don't know). The outside-of-class workload was lighter, but what you did do, you had to complete it much more thoroughl
There are so many. In terms of something quantifiable (only so that I can answer the question), I found my life's passion in sustainable agriculture...something that I would have NEVER found out about here at Berkeley.
It sounds cliche, but I changed a lot as a person; I am way more laid back, more deliberate about taking care of my mental health and well being, more intentional in how I spend my time and with whom, more accepting and warm as a person in general, and many ways I probably could not even pinpoint.
OF COURSE. But they just need to know what they are getting into with the language and culture shock. It's NOT a semester of fun. It's hard work and frustration and learning. SO WORTH IT!!