Every school day I commute for about an hour to campus and another hour back. After making such a long journey to campus, I stay there. Sometimes I find a nice patch of grass and lay in the sun to read for my literature class. Sometimes I go to the library to get some homework done. I kill time anticipating my favorite part of the school day: lunch time.
The whole university is scheduled to have lunch at one o’clock. The school has about four times the population of Northwestern and everyone has the same hour off. It makes for a long wait to microwave my packed lunch, but it is fun. It is easy to meet new people and also to meet up with friends since nobody has an excuse to not hang out. During this time student groups organize dance competitions, barbecues, protests, soccer games, and a lot more. It is a very busy hour.
Of course, I spend most of my time on campus in class. I am taking a universal literature class, a political science seminar on 20th century Latin America, and a psychology course on Latin American culture and identity. It is definitely a huge change for me. At Northwestern, I study engineering. In Chile, I am taking all humanities courses and they are all in Spanish. After the first couple lectures I got over the language difference. It really only ends up affecting me when I have to write in class essays in Spanish. However, taking courses about Latin America as a whole from a Chilean perspective has been really interesting. It has been eye opening to hear about the enormous positive and negative influences from the United States. Learning about Latin American culture is also teaching me a lot about US culture.
Despite how much fun I have on campus, my favorite part of the campus life at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC) is that every day I leave. I don’t say that lightly. My first two years at Northwestern I lived on campus, and it was extraordinarily stressful due to how hard it was to separate my “school and work” time and place, from my “fun and relaxation” time and place. PUC has taught me how much happier I am with a work life, a home life, and an hour commute separating the two.