I have been a Notre Dame student for almost three years now; and I have met a lot, A LOT of people of which I am lucky to call a few of them my friends. One might say that being an international student is a plus when talking to people, particularly since it works as a conversation starter in which people get interested in learning more about your native land and first language (many friends ask me for help in their Spanish classes).
Furthermore, a couple of my friends have been actually interested enough to follow me all the way back to Chile for break! My good friend (and co-worker, check her profile!) Katie Martin joined me to go to Santiago this past summer break. She was not able to stay for too long, but we went to a couple of touristic places, hiked the mighty Manquehue (Check out the picture!) - which in native tongue means “where the Condors rest,” and also shopped at the biggest shopping center in the continent where we enjoyed some delicious Peruvian food.
More recently, my good friend Neal (in the picture below) came with me to Chile for Christmas break. This meant a lot since most people would rather stay with their family during the holidays, but he decided to explore my beautiful country with me instead. Since Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, we actually were there for the middle of the summer. It is never a bad thing to get some sun in the middle of the South Bend winter. Of course, it was too hot to go hike the Andes, but we didn't dwell on it. My extended family that resides in the Atacama Region hosted us and took us to the beach and to the always warm and gorgeous San Pedro de Atacama in the heart of the driest desert in the world.
But still, it doesn’t really stop there. Every semester, many Domers go to Santiago to study abroad at the prestigious Pontificia Universidad Catolica. Over the last several years, many have reached out to me to ask all sort of things from cultural questions they might have prior to their flight to what are the best restaurants nearby the place they are staying.
Finally, as every story has two sides, I came to study here and am naturally interested in the US. So, I have also reached out and gone to visit friends. During fall break last year, I had the privilege of going to South Florida with my friend Michelle. Once there, we visited Tallahassee, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami!
My advice to all of you: connections and traveling are something you might want to consider when trying to decided where to go to college. Do you want to go to a national college that draws people from all over the country and the world? For me, it was really important to consider the people who were going to join me in this 4-year long journey we call college.