I left for my study abroad experience in Santiago, Chile on July 24, 2007 with hundreds of emotions/thoughts running through my head, seriously considering canceling my trip after my first layover in Dallas. I knew I was going to be gone for a long time and I was going to miss my family. On top of that, it seemed as though EVERYTHING was pointing for me to return home on that 18 hour trip down south. Flight delays, excess baggage weight, lost documents, etc… Although, knowing that upon arrival I still had to find a place to live, I was hoping that my situation would better.
After living in Santiago for two months, with three more to go, who knew that I didn’t want to ever leave?
My name is Josué David Mendoza and I’m a senior at the Foster School of Business double majoring in Business Administration with a focus in Finance, Spanish and also committed to completing the Certificate in International Studies in Business (CISB). As mentioned above, I’m currently on a direct exchange program at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile taking up economics, finance, and culture courses in Spanish.
Throughout my stay, I’ve tried explaining to many people my experience here in Santiago and have found that the only way has been through an analogy using my first time snowboarding.
In this risky sport, half the battle is deciding to take it up. Once you are up at the top of the mountain, the other half begins. After the first time falling, I convinced myself seconds later that I would never take up this sport again. My decision disappointed me and only motivated me to throw myself back at the top of that mountain to only keep on falling. After about 5 hours, and several ice packs, I had a change of heart.
The next morning I realized that I had muscles in places that I didn’t think even existed. I hurt like no other, but knew that I had conquered that mountain, even though it had literally beaten me up.
My experience getting to and in Santiago has been very similar to this experience I had one day on that mountain. Early on my freshman year at the University of Washington, I took the risk of enrolling in CISB which I knew would “force” me to take upon myself an experience abroad. The trip to Santiago, Chile was hectic and the first month in the country was lonely and literally cold in many respects. At one point, the first month in Chile, I couldn’t wait to return to Seattle in December 2007 until finally I was able to get the “hang” of things.
Seven months later after first stepping foot on the country, I was glad I had extended my stay from December 2007 (when I was supposed to leave) to September 2008. I have seen a lot yes, but most importantly have been able to make best friends who have taught me a lot about myself and continue to learn every day.