Hello! My name is Julia Janikies and I am now a senior on the women's soccer team. I have always had a huge passion for discovering the world and knew that studying abroad was something I had to do as a part of my college experience. I also knew that I really wanted to play soccer in college and this was one of the main reasons as to why I decided to come play at Babson, not only for the great education, but also because I knew I would be able to play soccer, as well as go abroad for a semester.
Last semester I studied abroad in Argentina and Chile through the IES Emerging Economies program (highly recommend). Through this program, I got the opportunity to spend seven weeks in Argentina, seven weeks in Chile, as well as a week and a half in the middle in Peru. I picked this program because I really wanted to go to a country that 1. Was Spanish speaking, 2. Was not somewhere I would normally think to travel, and 3. A place that had a lot of outdoor adventures. Thankfully this program met my criteria perfectly!
My program ended up consisting of about 30 students from various schools over the country and I was pretty nervous that I didn't really know anyone. This ended up being one of my highlights because I was able to make so many new friends and learn from people who had such different and new perspectives on the world we live in today. An extra benefit of deciding to spend seven weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was that my teammate Maggie McCabe was studying there the whole semester, so I got the opportunity to spend a few weeks with her there and explore the city together.
While I was in Buenos Aires, I stayed with a host family. They were amazing and made this experience so special. They took me in as if I was their own daughter and helped me improve upon my Spanish greatly and become more comfortable with the city. I already spoke decent Spanish before going, but each country I visited had its own dialect, so it was not the exact Spanish I was used to. I learned so much about the Argentine economy through my classes and speaking to locals. Speaking to locals about what was going on was one of my favorite things because everyone had such differing opinions about the political scene in Argentina. It also opened my eyes to how reliant some countries are on the U.S. economy. Another one of my favorite things to do in Buenos Aires was play pick up soccer with Maggie and some of the locals. Besides my experience in the city, I also had the opportunity to visit the Patagonia region, specifically El Chalten, and hike Fitz Roy. This was my favorite trip by far and along the trail I met so many hikers from all over the world and got to hear about all of their traveling experiences. I also visited Iguazu waterfalls, which is one the seven natural wonders of the world, as well as Mendoza, Argentina's wine region, and took a ferry over to Uruguay to visit the beaches for a weekend.
The next stop for the program was Peru! We first started in Lima, where we met our program director for the rest of our time in Chile. We got to try so many different local Peruvian dishes (Peruvian food is amazing, especially if you love seafood), and speak to the Peruvian people about informal businesses. After Lima, we flew to Cusco and then drove about two hours to the Sacred Valley. Here we met with local farmers and women who create alpaca fur products to learn about their businesses and what the Peruvian government is doing for them. We also got the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu. After the sacred valley, we went back to Cusco, where we had alone time to venture throughout the city.
After Peru, we flew to Santiago, Chile to stay for the last seven weeks. Here, I also stayed with a host family and had two host brothers who helped me explore the city. In our classes here, we learned about the Chilean economy and how it is on the verge of becoming a developed economy. It was really interesting to be able to compare Argentina's economy (pretty much a frontier market), Peru's economy (developing), and then Chile's economy (almost fully developed). While I was in Santiago, I was able to do a lot of hiking through the Andes Mountains, and since we were so close and also spent five days up in the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. This was also another one of my favorite trips. The star watching there was amazing. We also had many field trips to different copper mines and wineries to learn about the Chilean commodity market. While I was in Chile, not only was I comparing the various markets, but also the various dialects of Spanish. It was tough adjusting to the different forms of Spanish that each country spoke, and Chilean Spanish by far was the hardest to adjust to and understand.
Overall, I learned so much from studying abroad in South America, specifically about all the Latin American economies. I met so many new people from all over the U.S. as well as made new friends and connections in South America. I can't wait to go back one day and visit the rest of the continent. I would recommend studying abroad to everyone because it really makes you go out of your comfort zone, try new things, and make new friendships that may have never happened if you remain in your bubble at school. I also am so thankful that Coach Pineault allows us to study abroad for a semester and that Babson makes it an easy process. I can't wait to be back this semester and with my teammates!