University opened the doors of the world
It was the start of my study year abroad – my first long haul flight, my first time travelling alone – Santiago de Chile here I come!
As you can imagine, I didn’t really know what I was doing when preparing to go. Nurses told me off for not getting my vaccinations done in advance and I made my visa application weeks late as well! The panic of my last few weeks in England meant that it wasn’t until I was actually on the plane that it sunk in that I wasn’t coming home for some time.
I came to university to study linguistics and Spanish and being at university has helped me grow and literally discover new horizons.
So here I was on my way to Chile. I studied at a Chilean university and lived in a house with thirty other students. Just like going to university as a fresher the first few weeks were difficult and – just like then – the difficulties did not come close to outweighing the amazing things I then got to experience. I skied in the Andes, I swam in thermal springs Bolivia; I hiked Machu Picchu in Peru; I spent Halloween in Buenos Aires; I rode a bike through the Atacama Desert; I went wine tasting in Mendoza; I star-gazed in Bolivia. I also got to immerse myself in Chilean culture: I discovered reggaeton (latino music), pisco (it’s their most popular spirit), and learnt chileanismos such as polollo (boyfriend) and ¿cachai? (do you understand?). I also learnt that in comparison to the latino, English people cannot dance, myself included. I made some amazing friends from all over the world along the way.
When I was leaving Chile I realised I had accidentally booked the wrong flight. I had to phone the airline and change my flight in Spanish and I had no communication problems whatsoever. It sounds like such a little thing, but I felt so proud of myself. I had a truly unforgettable experience in South America, and being able to speak Spanish means I’m equipped to do a secondment in a Spanish speaking country in any graduate job, which makes the future so much more exciting!
I would whole-heartedly recommend that anybody who has come from a background like mine apply for the Unite Foundation scholarship because it completely changes your university experience. I know that it makes university a possibility where it wasn’t before. Not having to pay rent meant that I was able to take advantage of all the opportunities that came my way.
The Unite scholarship opened up university for me and then university has opened up the world.