“Are You Happy to Be Home?” (Spoilers: I Am!)

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Greetings from Bloomington!

I can’t believe I’m back in Bloomington—and I also still can’t believe I spent my summer in Santiago, Chile. I have to remind myself that I had that experience and that it really was an accomplishment.

It is also strange how fast I was able to come back into my Bloomington life. There is this weird phenomenon that happens when you’re in college where it feels like time froze while you were away from your hometown or even campus. I can’t really explain it but it just feels that way.

When I was driving down Jordan on move-in day with my dad, he asked me, “Are you happy to be home?” And you know, I really am. Being back in Bloomington is great. Don’t get me wrong (@ my family), I love being back in Chicago and all that jazz but I love getting back to a school routine instead of the more professional schedule I had in Chile or the non-existent schedule I had at home.

I determined that I need to have a more rigid and full schedule of classes, organizations, and part time jobs in order to keep myself busy at this point of my life. I am just not ready to commit to the 9-5 work day. Let’s give it two years and we’ll see.

As I’m writing this blog post in the Global International Building before my Spanish class, life still goes on back in Chicago and life goes on in Santiago as well. I’ve surrounded myself with little reminders of my time in Chile and as a reminder to take a second and reflect on the moments that made my experience so special. For example, my computer background is a picture that I took in Viña del Mar, a day trip that was probably one of the highlights of my trip. There are two stickers on my laptop case that remind me of the adventures I had with my host family. Photos of my host family and adventure cover my room and refrigerator, along with a sign I made of my new Chilean vocabulary. And I still have some Chilean cookies and granola bars I brought back with me to finish when I miss my Chilean family (and when I miss the BREAD; I miss the bread so much!).

The hardest thing for me about leaving Chile was leaving my host family. We became so close during my time in Santiago and I miss seeing them every day. There is nothing like coming home every day to a, “OH MOLLY!” and a big hug that I would get from my host mom. I miss that a lot. Thank goodness for technology, especially WhatsApp, because we are able to keep in touch (and I can receive photos of Napoléon, the turtle who filled my trip with excitement). I also miss my host mom’s cooking so much too. I wish food traveled better because I could go for some of her lentils right now or this apple cake she made too. SO GOOD.

I sent her a picture of my lunch today because I made myself a little salad like she would make me. She replied that she gets confused and sometimes starts calling my name. I cannot wait until I can see them again.

So, life goes on for them, especially now because they got a new puppy (sadly, it is not named Molly even though I kept saying it was a great name). I am so fortunate that I had such a positive experience with them and that I felt cared for and truly loved. I’m forever grateful.

Although I have left Chile, Chicago, and now am back in Bloomington, I carry the experiences I had with me. I find myself spending more time looking around campus and trying to take it all in before I leave in two years. I also find myself wanting to stick my hand out in order to flag down the 9 bus in front of Teter because that’s how you have to do it in Santiago! So, if you see a random person about to stick their arm out in front of the bus, it’s probably me. Oh well.

Like I said, I am extremely grateful for my experience in Santiago and I am happy to be back in my Indiana home! Every study abroad experience is different and everyone’s return home is different as well. A return back home may be a blessing or a negative experience. Whatever it is, it is your experience. I was lucky enough to have positive experiences all around; however, my story is unique and don’t let that deter your own study abroad experience or one you hope to have. My advice to you is make every adventure your adventure.

Thank you for following along through my journey to Chile, Chicago, and back. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Journalism and Spanish major, class of 2019, Director of Mental Health for Culture of Care

Hello! My name is Molly Cunningham and I am a current sophomore studying journalism (Public Relations) and Spanish. I am involved with Culture of Care and Arbutus (yearbook) and have been involved with both organizations since last year. I came to IU in order to have a Big 10 experience and in order to take advantage of all the opportunities this school and this community has to offer. There are so many things to highlight about IU and I want to be able to inspire the next generations of Hoosiers. We Are IU helped me when I was deciding on IU and I want help more current and potential Hoosiers. At IU, we strive to create a culture of care and I want to be able to encourage more people to come here and have the best experience they can have.

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