Hey guys! My name’s Jessica Flynn. I’m a rising sophomore at Ole Miss, studying International Studies and Spanish. I first heard about the program through Dr. Kate in her Inst 207 class this past spring. A big part of my major is a semester-long study abroad my junior year, so I thought that studying for a month in Latin America would be a good way to “get my feet wet” with the experience of studying abroad. I’m really excited to finally get to South America; it’s somewhere that I’ve always wanted to visit but up until recently I never thought I would.
I’m most excited about authentically experiencing a new culture in Bolivia. I’ve travelled out of the country in the past, but I always went with my family and stuck to the tourist traps and didn’t get to have much interaction at all with the locals. Traveling on my own will give me more opportunities to choose activities that I genuinely am interested in, and I won’t have the crutch of my family to help guide me around the city. I always need a little forcing out of my comfort zone, and I really think that living with a host family and traveling solo will help me grow. I know that my Spanish skills will be taken to the next level on this trip, so that’s something that I’m excited about. By the end of the trip, I want to be able to speak Spanish nearly as quickly as I can in English, if possible. I’m also very intrigued by the diverse ecology of the country. La Paz seems pretty dry and rugged, which is such a stark contrast to the rainforest we’ll be visiting one weekend. I’d be interested in seeing how the different environments affect the local economies in these areas.
As Dr. Miguel and Dr. Kate already know, I have been very anxious about going on this trip. At one point, I even inquired about dropping out of the program before it had even started because I was scared to travel to a country all alone. My main concerns were navigating public transportation and feeling safe in the city, because I’ve never been much of a city girl. I’m also a little nervous about adjusting to the environment there, with the altitude and the cold weather and hilly streets. But I realized that this trip can be positive or negative for me depending on my attitude, and it’s a really amazing opportunity, so I’ve committed to being optimistic and positive about my upcoming travels. As my departure date arrives, I’m more curious than nervous and I’m hoping that curiosity turns into excitement as my trip begins.