My time in Chile with SFS has allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone while continuing to do the things I enjoy and exploring the things I’m curious about.
There’s something about traveling to a new country on your own that makes you put on your “big girl” pants and strike a power pose. It’s intimidating to go somewhere new with people you’ve never met and know that life goes on without you in the place that you leave behind. Everyone tells you how much fun you’re going to have and how much you’re going to learn, but those words don’t fully sink in until you’ve lived your first few weeks in that new place and taken a dive into your new community.
Despite the warm welcome to the center, my first few days in Chile were difficult, as I watched friends have fun at school and my family gather at home, and I tried to understand the ways in which the program operated. While I missed home, I had to give myself the time and space to comprehend that the experience I was having in Southern Patagonia was unlike anything I would have the chance to do again. Those first days were long, but suddenly it’s time for me to go back to the States. It’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s time for me to return home with me the lessons I have learned abroad.
My experiences in Chile will inform my next steps on both small and large scales. In the immediate sense, I am returning with my new knowledge learned in the field, a desire to turn to the Great Outdoors as my classroom, and a stronger ability to not sweat all the small stuff. In the future, I hope to explore other research projects, as my Directed Research project unlocked new and exciting interests. I am eager to share the importance of environmental and experiential education with others.
My time in Chile with SFS has allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone while continuing to do the things I enjoy and exploring the things I’m curious about. It has been a pleasure to learn from a culture so different from my own – one that values community over individuals, one that lives simply, and one that turns the natural world into their playground.
Photo of Betsy Overstrum.
To the future SFS Chile Students: Put on your “big girl” pants. They may look more like waders… nonetheless they will transform your way of thinking and shape your experience for the better. Take time in smaller increments; the semester will be over before you know it. Be present where your feet are in each moment; you will never have this opportunity again, and you don’t want to miss anything. Do everything you can; leave with no regrets. Love unapologetically; love the places you go, the things you learn, and the people you’re with.
To the city of Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine National Park, el Chaltén, and all of the places I have had the pleasure of exploring in wonderful company during the past three and a half months: The things you have taught me about myself and the world have helped shape me into a better version of myself. For that, I am grateful.
To the Fall 2022 cohort, SFS Chile professors, SFS Chile faculty members, and my family, friends, and Hamilton support network: Thank you. Your knowledge, generosity, and interest have made this semester one to remember.
Photo of the Sunset over Torres del Paine National Park during ecology data collection, taken by Betsy Overstrum.
Southern Patagonia will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I will take with me the lessons I have learned and memories I have made over the course of this amazing semester abroad.
Hamilton College ‘24
Want to read more about our SFS Chile Center? Click here to learn why we’re based there, our environmental research focus, how we connect and support the local community.