Here we go!

Hey, Guys!

 My name is Gabrielle Schust, but I usually go by Gabbi, and I am originally from Columbia, Missouri, home of the Mizzou Tigers. Last year I opted out of being a “townie” and made the seven-hour trek down to Ole Miss for my freshman year. I am a rising Sophomore, double majoring in International Studies and Spanish with a minor in World Health; or at least that’s the plan as it stands right now. I was introduced to this trip in Dr. Kate’s Latin American Studies class this past semester and thought it might be a valuable alternative to spending my summer working at a local fast food restaurant. As the semester progressed, that class really affirmed my interest in Latin America, and my desire to go on this trip grew as well. I have done quite a bit of traveling, including spending a year in Kenya, but aside from a brief family vacation in Peru, I have yet to spend much time in Central or South America, so I felt this would be the perfect way to whet my appetite for travel in the region.

 The main thing I hope to gain from this program is an understanding and genuine experience of Bolivian culture. I am very interested in being exposed to what life is like in Bolivia, and particularly in La Paz, and I can’t wait to experience the rich culture, food, heritage, religion etc. of Bolivia. Additionally, I look forward to improving my Spanish skills. I just returned last week from a trip to Spain, and although I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to navigate linguistically in a Spanish speaking country, I did find myself “muddling through” in anything more than quick exchanges or brief conversations, and doing a lot of nodding along politely to things that I did not fully understand. I really hope that this trip will give me the opportunity to improve my Spanish and that by the end of it perhaps I won’t be doing quite so much guessing what was just said to me and hoping for the best.

 As for my apprehensions about this trip, they are mostly small and insignificant. I am a little concerned about experiencing altitude sickness, simply because my mother experienced some symptoms during our trip to Peru, and watching how terrible it made her feel instilled in me a healthy fear of experiencing the same. Additionally, I am very – VERY – pale skinned, so much so that in the summer I mostly just avoid going outside in order to prevent sunburn. It follows that I am not particularly looking forward to slathering on sunscreen every day to combat the harsh Bolivian sun. Finally, I am slightly anxious about the language barrier, especially the possibility of experiencing it with my host family, but I’m sure that issue will resolve itself after a few days of being in the country. Other than that, I am mostly just excited to get down to La Paz and start what I am sure will be an amazing experience. ¡Nos vemos en Bolivia!

One thought on “Here we go!

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  1. I’m curious about your Kenya experience, and that might be a good way to think about Bolivia (as a comparison not just with the US, but with Kenya, as well as your other travels). The language issue probably won’t be much of a problem, especially if you aren’t afraid to make mistakes (best way to learn a local language). If you’re worried about sunburn, be sure to wear sunscreen (you can buy some here, but it might be good to bring some so you’re ready) and hats. You’ll see a lot of people with wide brimmed hats (even locals), so you won’t stick out. Dr. Kate often wears hats for that reason.

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