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Returning to Furman: Katherine McCann ’23

Meet Katherine

  • Biology – Biomedical Sciences BS
  • Spanish BA
  • Latin American and Latinx Studies Minor

My name is Katherine McCann, and I am a rising senior (Class of 2023) who just returned from a study away program through Furman’s Spring 2022 Affiliate program with IES Abroad in Santiago, Chile. My program studied Politics, Language, and Social Justice in a Spanish-speaking context while we traveled around enjoying the wonders of Chile in our free time.

Pieces of Chile

One of my favorite moments from the several months in Chile was when my program went on a weekend field trip to the enchanting island of Chiloe in the central south of Chile. We stayed in little houses on stilts in the ocean, ate Chilean curanto stew, enjoyed the beach breeze, and visited many entrepreneurs to learn about how they work within the larger system.

My favorite day of the field trip was when we woke up and drove across the island through farm country, stopping at various farms along the way. At one of the first, we sat down and learned about island agriculture, an important aspect of Chile’s economy, and got to try the famous Chiloean potatoes while sitting around a cook fire with the sea breeze blowing in one door and the chickens walking in and out of the other. At the next farm, we stopped for a several course lunch cooked from scratch over a wood fire and totally made with products from the farm. Following lunch, we all walked out into a dramatically cloudy day and explored one of the oldest old-growth forests in Chile with a nature guide who explained to us the significance of the forest for Chile considering how much development was taking out the old-growth forests. After the forest, we were introduced to many different varieties of sheep and the process of both herding them and then shearing them and turning the wool into yarn which could be used to create the classic Chiloean sweater products.

This weekend was so enjoyable for me because it was an opportunity to get away from the city and bask in the magic of Chilean scenery while getting to meet individuals who contribute through their work to essential parts of the Chilean economy and are taking steps to preserve the world through sustainable practices.

From Chile to Campus – A New Challenge

Since getting home, I have often been reminded about memories from Chile, both from photos that come up on my phone and from little pieces of Chile that I have brought back with me.

One of the biggest challenges especially at first being home is this strange feeling of homesickness that I have never had before because it is homesickness for a place other than Greenville, SC, where I have lived my whole life.

I find myself missing not only people and places but experiences, like taking the bus and metro every day or speaking Chilean Spanish all the time. I have dreams of Chile and wake up with an ache in my heart to go back and feel what that Katherine was feeling and remember how that Katherine was growing and thriving.

Now that I am back on campus, I have been readjusting to life at Furman and setting goals for myself that will enable me to both cherish those abroad memories and share some of the bits of experiences I had in Chile with others. One plan for myself is to call a Chilean friend on the phone once a month, a goal made easy by the fact that we are in the same time zone. This will not only keep my Chilean Spanish up to par but also let me check in with how things are going and what is happening in the country, especially as the next few months will be politically contentious and potentially violent. I will continue to share my life with my friend abroad, even though we may not cross paths again in person for a while. Since we are living in the apartments, I also plan to have Chilean cooking nights where I make dinner for my roommates and other friends to share some of the flavors of my host mom’s kitchen with them. All of these efforts and more will allow me to preserve my experience while enjoying senior year with those I love here at Furman.