I cannot believe that last night was my final night with my amazing Chilean host family. In honor of my departure, my host mother prepared my favorite meal––pizza. She put a Chilean twist on it by adding various meats, cheeses, and spices seen in typical Chilean dishes, so I found the meal to be very symbolic of the end of my journey in this awesome country but also symbolic of my return to the United States. As we did the first night, all of us––the four exchange students, our host brother, and our host mother––gathered around the table and shared stories as we devoured the delicious meal.
Following the meal, my family taught me how to play some Chilean card games. We spent hours at the table enjoying each other’s company through some, at times, not-so-friendly competition. I had a lot of fun learning new card games that I hope to bring back to my friends and family back home in New York. Additionally, it was super challenging yet interesting to play a fast-paced game in Spanish. I had to pay extra attention at all times to make sure that I was following the established guidelines all the while attempting to beat out my Chilean family.
I had so much fun spending my final night in Chile with my family, and it made it all the more difficult to say goodbye to them this next day. I also found the dinner and game that ensued reflective of my experience in Chile and as an exchange student, as it brought me back to the first night in their home in which we shared a similar meal. It was truly in this instance, however, that I saw firsthand the manifestation of my development as a Spanish speaker. I felt so much more confident contributing to the conversation as well as being able to clearly understand what all members of the family had to say. I am so grateful for this family and their role in forming my invaluable experience in Chile, and I know that we will definitely stay in touch over the years, as I especially hope to return to Chile one day in the future.