Preparing for six months in Managua

In roughly a week and a half, I leave for a semester abroad in Managua, Nicaragua. This is my first contribution to the UW IPE Office Study Abroad blog, so let me give you all a little background info about myself and about my trip!

My name is Rebecca, I am from Seattle, and I am currently a Junior at UW. I’m majoring in Comparative History of Ideas (CHID), and minoring in Comparative Religion. I am going on a direct exchange through CIEE, a third-party study abroad program, for roughly six months to Managua, Nicaragua. Going on a direct exchange means that I will enroll in a local university in Nicaragua –la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN)– and will take classes with local students. I will also be living with a host family, who I currently know nothing about! I will meet them after I have gone through the three-day program orientation once I have arrived.

My particular program is very small, with only five students from all across the U.S. I am the only person coming from the West Coast. This year, the entire group is female, which is a first for the CIEE Managua program.  The five of us will take one class together, taught by the program’s resident director, on the revolutionary history of Nicaragua. Aside from that requirement, we are free to take whichever classes appeal to us.

As of now, I am a huge mix of excitement, nerves, and last-minute panic. The pile of clothes, shoes, Pepto-Bismol tablets, and other various travel necessities in my room has been steadily growing over the past few weeks, and in a few days I will have to sift through it and pare down what I will realistically be able to take with me in my one duffel bag and hiking pack. Although I have traveled a fair amount, including an amazing biology trip through Nicaragua’s southern neighbor, Costa Rica, I have never lived anywhere else for more than five weeks. This will be six whole months! I am incredibly excited, but also a little anxious about leaving my friends and family here. As I did not move away for college, this is something I have never done! However, I think being a bit nervous is a good thing, and from everything I have read and heard, Nicaragua sounds like an incredible place that I will probably not want to leave once it is time to come home.

For now, I am just spending time with everyone I have here in Seattle and enjoying my last few days of gray skies and chilly temperatures in the beautiful Pacific Northwest before the coming months of 90+ degree days in the tropics!