By: Shakaila Jones
Pisco Sour, por favor! This seemed like the only thing that I could say in both Spanish and Portuguese that was accurately comprehended in South America. On the contrary, while I did consume many of these delicious alcoholic beverages, they were but just one indulgence of the many things that made up one of my best life experiences. Traveling to both Santiago, Chile and Sao Paulo, Brazil with the Mendoza School of Business was an opportunity of a lifetime. Here is my brief tale of the two cities.
The trip was eye-opening into many of the progressive features of the countries, in addition, to numerous key issues facing them. Over the duration of our stay we had the opportunity to visit several companies and listen to various speakers who were able to give us an insight into these areas. Those that stood out the most were in regards to the poverty level and education system. In both Chile and Brazil there is a substantial amount of the population that live below the poverty line. Many of them are forced to live in areas known as favelas, which are slums within the city. In Chile the education system is broken into non-profit and for-profit institutions. This segments the quality of education for the children in the country as poorer families cannot afford to pay for their children’s education. So in a way, poverty and education are linked.
Nonetheless, I am sure the fun part of the trip is what everyone wants to know. In South America the fun was endless. Horseback riding up the Andes Mountains was exciting and terrifying, but the view at the top was absolutely breath-taking! Visiting the DeMartino Chilean winery was
beautiful and intoxicating! And we had to visit the beach while we were in 80-90 degree weather! Other activities included white water rafting, zip lining, and visiting many of the amazing tourist sites on bike or foot. Some included historic statues and buildings, such as Cathedrals or Govt buildings, and an unquantifiable amount of street art! We also attended a Brazilian futbol game, which is something that I will never forget. The daytime events were adventurous and most nights, if we had enough energy, we roamed the cities to find new restaurants, bars and night clubs to get to know the locals and have a bit more fun before we called it a night in our 5-star hotel!
This is only a glimpse of the amazing South America Study Abroad Trip! The 2 weeks spent out of the US were beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I recommend traveling to South America to anyone who wants to venture to a new country. As a side note, while I learned so much about Chile and Brazil, I discovered that studying abroad made me more aware of the many privileges and luxuries that we have as US citizens that often times go unnoticed. Because of this, I challenge myself and others who fall into this category to make a conscious effort to show more gratitude and also help improve the living conditions for the less fortunate in our own country. Love other countries, but Be Proud to be an American!