Zimbabwe, the United States & Chile: Family around the world

In the summer of 2015 Nyasha Juta studied at Universidad del Bio Bio in Chile. Nyasha took Spanish courses and was a full time student who lived with a host family.  Before the trip Nyasha was a Psychology Major with a Spanish minor, “When I first came to college I took Spanish because I love the language and the culture,” said Nyasha.

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Nyasha left the U.S. with a group of 12 other students explaining, “we didn’t go with a teacher we kind of just got on a plane and hoped for the best once we got there.”

For many students studying abroad is the first time they are fully immersed in another culture for an extended period of time, which makes culture shock a very real experience for them. However Nyasha’s experience was different from most students, “It was a culture shock from the U.S. but originally I’m from Zimbabwe and I lived there for a while and coming to the U.S. was a huge culture shock to me. When I went to Chile it was almost refreshing because they have similar culture value and family values, like how open and welcoming everyone is there. For me I don’t want to say it was a culture shock but it was like a refreshing memory. I know for most of my friends they were shocked and surprised but we had good students and we all got along, we made the best of what was going on, even though it was a culture shock we were immersed in it and loved it.”

Being in a Spanish speaking country also meant that Nyasha could experience the language more, “The classes weren’t hard they were helpful because we were talking and it was more interactive. Here we learn Spanish, but when we get out of class we don’t go and use it. There what we learned in Spanish class we could apply that to our daily lives at home.”

After her trip Nyasha decided to add the Spanish major.  The credits she received from studying abroad as a full time student meant she only needed two more classes to complete the major, “Studying abroad definitely influenced my decision to add Spanish as a major, just because I so much while there”

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Even though Nyasha was a full time she still had time on the weekends to travel saying, “On Fridays we would get on the bus somewhere and travel, that was almost every weekend.” Travelling allowed Nyasha to experience Chilean culture,  “We got to know almost every part of Chile. The the upper side, the north, and central. We got to learn and were exposed to how all Chileans are instead of just one specific region.”

On one weekend trip Nyasha experienced the hospitality of the locals. “One time a group of us went to an island that is a part of Chile we did not any plans whatsoever so it was just a group of us walking in this different city and environment and people are always coming up to you when you’re studying abroad. We met the nicest man ever, he offered us a place to stay, it was like a cabin, and he showed us where to go and everything. The next day we were like ‘now what are we going to do?’ So he actually let us borrow his car, and asked, ‘does anyone know how to drive a stick shift?’ One of the guys we were with knew how to drive a stick shift and he was like ‘alright you guys can go explore’ so we got in his car and went to 4 or 5 different cities in that one day and just stopping in one and exploring, That was probably one of my favorite times because it was like anything can happen. He was really welcoming and trustful and most people are.”

Nyasha always wanted to study abroad saying, “My sister studied abroad and loved it and was like hey if you want to do it do it you’re not going to regret it. She told me the process she went through, going to the study abroad fair, going to the study abroad office, and talking to advisors about what would happen to your classes so that was the first step for me.”

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As Nyasha was thinking about studying abroad she did not always have Chile in mind,  “when I went in I was like Spain, Spain, Spain you know because everyone wants to go to Spain, but once I got to the study abroad fair and got to talking to everyone, all the other countries sounded great. For what I envisioned studying abroad Chile was perfect. It was worth it because I was a full time student and the cost for it was cheaper to be a full time student there than here, so I was like hey this is perfect and I’ve always wanted to go to South America.”

Nyasha’s advice for anyone considering studying abroad is, “to be open minded and not be so closed off. It’s worth it. It’s worth what you put in and what you get back is just amazing. Be careful too, because you are in a different country you don’t know everything about it so be careful and do research, but don’t let it scare you. Most people that are abroad love students. If someone is going to live with a family I would probably advise them to get to know the family, because now I’m pretty close with my host family I talk to them all the time. I send them letters, and they said if I ever wanted to come back I could always stay there. So making those relationships with your study abroad family or the people that you go with are great because I went in not knowing anyone but came back with so many friends and that was awesome.”

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