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Liberal Arts CIEE: Valparaiso, Chile
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Monica Mohler

Liberal Arts Major(s): Spanish
Minor: History
Hometown: Downingtown, PA

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of my experience was living in home with a Chilean family. By doing so I learned so much about the culture and what daily life looks like. I found that some of my favorite days were comprised of doing ordinary activities such as homework at a coffee shop, class, lunch with my family, and watching a television series all together. But moments like these always feel like an adventure when you are in another country, practicing another language, and being immersed in the culture. I really enjoyed going on excursions with my family around the city, and I especially enjoyed when they taught me how to cook a typical Chilean dish including empanadas and humitas. It was also exciting to share some of my favorite foods with them (french toast!). It truly was special to be welcomed into a home and live with a family.

"...my experience taught me about diversity and cross-culture interactions. This is something that I believe will be extremely important coming back to the United States. I have a far broader perspective and understanding after my time in Chile."

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience impacted me academically in tangible and intangible ways. My Spanish skills have improved tremendously. Although I may now have a bit of a Chilean accent, I am far more comfortable speaking Spanish--I am not afraid to mess up! I understand far more as well when it comes to listening. It was more challenging than I expected because I have studied Spanish for years, but I truly believe you have to go to a country to speak the language to truly learn it. Furthermore, my experience taught me about diversity and cross-culture interactions. This is something that I believe will be extremely important coming back to the United States. I have a far broader perspective and understanding after my time in Chile.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

My time abroad will impact my career goals because I have gained and enhanced so many skills that will be useful in any career. Also, I volunteered in an English class as a native speaker. With this I learned more about the difficulties for Spanish speakers when learning English and also how to create fun activities that encourage speaking. If I decide to teach abroad, this will certainly be an experience I reflect on to help me.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellows Program affected this experience from the beginning by including a study abroad experience as one of the options to fill the requirements to graduate. I had always wanted to study abroad, but this gave me solid motivation to do so. Not only motivation, but also financial aid made it possible for me to come on this exchange. I did not have to worry about how I would pay for the tuition to come to study abroad, and I was able to full enjoy my experience.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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