UNK study abroad student learns she can handle it

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A trip to Peru was something she was glad she experienced

Emily Bargell felt overwhelmed as she stepped off the plane in Lima, Peru.

The UNK education major from North Platte, Neb., knew she needed to go to Peru to improve her Spanish and make her a better teacher someday. But a big part of her didn’t want to go. She didn’t know if she could last a whole semester there.

She even had considered backing out. (A few years before, she’d left UNL and Lincoln to move back to North Platte because she was such a homebody.)

At the airport, hundreds of Peruvians seemed to be shouting at her. She thought she was going to cry.

That was four months ago.

I was so overwhelmed and the people are loud and rude. Then I saw my name 🙂 With my family 🙂 They hugged me and greeted me with a Peruvian kiss! We talked the whole way home and I quickly adjusted to the life that was in store for me for the next four months.

Emily, who’s 24, was part of a group of 20 UNK students who studied this past semester in Peru, accompanied by William Aviles, a political science professor at UNK. Each student was required to keep a blog.

Emily wrote this on Jan. 15:

Ohh man! My first week has gone by so quick! I feel like I´ve been here forever! (in a good way!) Much to my surprise I am loving it here! I love the people, the culture, the language, the weather!!! It is so much fun! I think this is going be to be a lot shorter than I expected!

She and the other UNK students studied Spanish and culture. But much of what they learned about Peru – and themselves – happened outside the classroom.

A trip to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu blew her away. It was maybe the most beautiful place on earth. And how on earth did they build it up there so high so long ago? Emily bartered for a beautiful piece of art.

One Saturday, she tried to do her laundry but the water wouldn’t come out. Her host mom told her she has to be patient – that’s the way water is in Peru.

I cannot imagine living like that! How annoying!

Then there was that night in late January when she and her host sister, Isa, had to face something totally unexpected:

April! What?? I can´t believe I´m already on my last month!! CRAZYY!!!!

I was soo scared to come here, and almost backed out…but I am sooooooo thankful I didn´t, this has been the best experience!

It’s often in moments like that – moments beyond the textbooks and tour guides – when Nebraska students studying abroad like Emily learn one of the most important lessons in life:

They can handle much more than they thought.

It turned out to be a great day. I was exhausted and went to bed at 7! I don´t know if I would relive that adventure. haha!

Global engagement is one of the Campaign for Nebraska’s top priorities, yet global engagement is one of the least funded areas in the campaign, across all campuses. If you would like to expand the global horizons of UNK students like Emily, please give online or contact the foundation’s Lucas Dart at 800-432-3216.

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