From Tahiti to Chile: Students reflect on experiences abroad


Photo by Zoe Seiler/The Simpsonian

by Belle Ward, Features Editor

Studying abroad allows Simpson students to expand their perspectives and improve their skills with foreign languages.

Just ask junior Makynze Davies.

During the spring semester Davies, a junior Spanish major and biology minor, studied in Chile at the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, or UCSC, with ten other Simpson students.

“I chose to study abroad because I’ve always wanted to really challenge myself with my Spanish speaking skills,” Davies said.

Ana Funez, a junior human services and sociology double major with a French minor, did not expect to study abroad until she took classes with French professor Sharon Wilkinson.

She said Wilkinson gave her the courage to study abroad.

While in Tahiti with six other Simpson students, Funez attended the Université de la Polynésie Française, or UPF.

Davies and Funez both found new perspectives while studying abroad. Funez saw a protest near UPF as France’s election took place, which affected traffic in the area.

Before Davies’ time in Chile ended, a group of students at UCSC protested against the administration after allegations about sexual harassment surfaced on campus. These experiences gave the students a deeper perspective on their environments.

Davies said she felt a sense of community between the local students she interacted with, as well as the other Simpson students while in Chile.  

“We were all paired with traditional students, and we got to know those students well, and we are very good friends with them now,” Davies said.

Davies lived with a host family of four siblings. Davies’ youngest host sibling, who was 9, was the family member she was closest with.

“I actually ended up bonding with him the most out of everyone else in my family. I taught him how to play Ninja, and he taught me how to do the floss,” Davies said.

Although Funez traveled to Tahiti to improve her French skills, constantly using French was one of the most challenging parts of the experience at the beginning and led Funez to doubt her ability to succeed.

Funez took classes about Tahitian history, literature and music while attending UPF. Throughout the semester, these classes helped her improve her language skills because they were taught in French.

“I feel like the whole experience was rewarding. I learned more French, I was able to talk more to French speakers there, sometimes without even thinking about it,” Funez said.

Davies and Funez mentioned cultural differences in the countries they studied in, such as tattoos and piercings being common in Tahiti or constantly wearing shoes inside the house in Chile.

“I go with the flow more now,” said Davies of her experience in Chile, as she was able to adapt to the changes as they came.

Both Davies and Funez mentioned a more relaxed view of time, as a meeting with friends was rarely right on schedule in their respective countries.

Money can be a concern with students when studying abroad, but Davies did not let the cost of the experience stop her. She hopes others choose to study abroad if given the choice.

“Spend your money on experiences because you’re probably never going to get a chance to do it again,” Davies said.