Take 5 is a Geenheart Travel blog series where we ask alumni 5 questions about their time abroad. We interviewed Natelina Blake about her Homestay experience in Chile.
I chose Chile because it was truly the unknown. I was intrigued by how little I knew about it. My only hope was to go to a Spanish speaking country, besides that I didn’t have any requirements. As I was researching different places, Chile drew me in and looked like such a beautiful and interesting place.
Everyone was so friendly! I got lost, maybe a little too often, but every time I did people were happy to help me find my way. My host family was so welcoming and understanding as it definitely took me time to adjust. They made me feel comfortable and at home for the short time I was there. I feel really lucky to have been able to have this unique experience.
Well, not exactly a meal but when we arrived home from the bus station, I think it was probably about midnight, there was a big bowl of mashed avocado and bread on the table. I don’t even think I ate because I was so exhausted from my travels. But it was very telling because I ate so much avocado and bread in the time that I was there! That’s definitely something I miss the most about Chile was how affordable and delicious fresh fruits and veggies were. Also to any vegans who are thinking about traveling but are worried about food, it is so doable!
I learned that sometimes it’s okay to put yourself first. I was supposed to do the three month homestay program but ended up cutting it down to one. I struggled with not having a daily routine and not having anyone around me who could relate to this new experience. After my program I decided to travel around on my own for 2 1/2 weeks and it was incredible. I am so happy that Greenheart Travel was able to push me outside of my comfort zone and they were so supportive through it all.
I can’t think of a specific piece of advice but something that was really helpful for me was just reminding myself that this was a completely new experience for me and it was okay for things to be hard. I think it’s rare for someone, especially on their first trip to be fully happy and content. It’s okay for it to be difficult and challenging as long as you know how to handle those intense emotions and take time to practice self care! It is so important!