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It’s finals week! What else is there to say? I think finals week is a universal holiday for college students. Everyone just barrages the library, trying to absorb all the information they can—you know the drill. Except this finals week is a tad bit different. Not only are classes coming to an end, but so is everything else. Like, my life and friendships in Chile. It’s really like a finals week for everything. 

This past week was “goodbye” week. The USAC program directors decided to throw us a farewell party on Tuesday and it was a mix of happiness, love, and tears. Everyone was singing songs, laughing, trying to absorb every happy moment they could while shoving chorrillanas down their throats. We sat on a long table and gave speeches about the semester, the great friends we’ve made, and about the future. We promised we’d visit one another when we get back to the states and then we all hugged while crying as we said goodbye. 

Yes, it was this dramatic, and even though we all knew we were going to see each other the next day in class, we all cried because this is it. This is the end to a story that we will only experience once and even if some of us do meet again another time, it won’t be the same because not all of us will be together in the same place, or that place won’t be Chile. And if the place is Chile, we won’t be the same age, perhaps not even the same. It just won’t be now. But maybe that’s the beauty of studying in a foreign country with strangers who turn into a family in a short period of time. That’s the perspective I’m trying to take on, at least, because this is just so weird, having to wrap it all up. 

On Thursday, two of our friends put on a talent show for the group. Many people put on a show for us. They sang, juggled, read poetry, played instruments—talent show things, you know, and this made me think about how creative and interesting all these people I’m studying abroad with are. I guess I didn’t realize that every individual I’ve met in this program is special because it was just normalized, but it’s not normal! And now that I realize it, I also realize I’m gonna miss it because I don’t have much more time with it all! I literally only have five days. That’s what I call ridiculous. 

This week is weird because now that it’s finals week, we’re all supposed to be studying heavily and scoring the best scores on our exams, but we’re also trying to focus on spending time with each other because this is the final week of this long dream we’ve been living in. How does one do that, balance studying and also try to enjoy 40+ people’s presence for the last time simultaneously? Is it even possible? I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t want to regret not spending time with some of my people.

I will miss you dearly, Santiago, along with all of the memories I’ve made here.