Lewis & Clark students share their experiences on campus and abroad
16 March 2015
It’s amazing how little things can remind you of people and places you’ve known at various parts of your life. I remember reading something somewhat recently about how when you first meet someone, you constantly compare them to people you’ve met before (the person has the same sense of humor as your brother, or likes the same music as your college roommate, or looks kind of like your childhood neighbor), and that only once you know someone for a while do you start seeing these traits as belonging to them, and not to the people you’ve known before. I think that’s also true for places.
I’m at the stage right now where everything I see, and everyone I meet, reminds me of experiences I’ve already had. I compare the palm trees to the only ones I’d really known before in Sanibel Island, Florida. The murals are much more abundant than but reminiscent of ones I’ve seen scattered around Portland, and the small corner restaurants near my house remind me of those in South Minneapolis. And it’s not just places reminding me of places- it’s places and foods and people and hole-in-the-wall shops reminding me of those folks I already know. I’ll see a mural and think about how one of my housemates would find it amusing, or a street dog that looks like my dog at home and think about how my sister would appreciate it. All of these reminders of home definitely make me feel homesick, but at the same time I know that they’re opening my eyes to how big (and at the same time, how small) the world is.
Really, I’m constantly reminded about how small the world is. A previous student that my host family hosted is friends on facebook with a high school classmate of mine. A guy in one of my Spanish classes has a girlfriend who is from Eden Prairie, a city near where I grew up in Minnesota. A girl in my group was roommates freshman year with one of my childhood best friends. Two other people in my group live in the same small town in Pennsylvania, but had never met before this trip- and they found out that one of them was working at a restaurant the same day the other went to the same restaurant last year. Beyond those immediate connections, I’m constantly hearing North American music or watching North American movies with my host family.
However, there are times I’m reminded of where I am and how unique of an experience I’m having. Last weekend included two of those experiences.
On Saturday I went to the campo, and then to the coast with my host family and my friend from the program, Lindsay. My host dad had a work related meeting out in a house in the campo, so we went along with him and sat on the porch and drank pap, a popular soft drink (I swore my host mom kept calling it “pop” with an accent, but turns out it’s called “pap”). We were greeted by two dogs who got very attached to Lindsay and sat with us while we waited.
one of the dogs
That afternoon we took the long way home by driving along the coast. It was beautiful, and I was reminded of the awe I feel every time I see the ocean. I don’t know if I would feel the same way if I always lived near it (I would hope that I would), but every time I see it I am reminded of how big it is. The same ocean that I live by now is the ocean that borders Oregon, and the one that surrounds Japan, where some of my friends have gone on overseas programs (and is a country that takes 14 hours in a plane to get to from Oregon). It also extends to Australia, another ungodly long flight. It’s so big that I can’t wrap my mind around it. I’ve had a lot of debates with my California friends about the merits of ocean vs lakes, and I’ll stubbornly stand by my belief that lakes are better, but the ocean definitely has a magical quality to it.
the view from the car
my host parents and me at the “Puente de Los Deseos” (bridge of dreams) in Horcón, a hippy commune on the coast. People tie ribbons with their dreams written on them to this bridge. It was really pretty.
A view of Horcón
the sun setting over the ocean
It was nice to get to know the coast a little bit more, and I had another chance to explore the coast the next day. On Sunday I went to the “dunes of Concón” (las dunas de Concón) with a couple of friends to watch the sunset. It was a surreal experience. The dunes are about a 20 minute bus ride away, and once you get there it feels like you’re in another world. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
It was overall a really nice weekend. I feel like I may be starting to get more comfortable here, despite missing home and the people in it. Chile is definitely a unique and beautiful place, and I’m appreciating it more every day.
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