When I decided to study abroad in the Dominican Republic, I honestly knew very little about it. The semi-Spanglish, Dominican-centric novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is one of my favorite books, so that seemed like pretty good signpost. Beyond that, I wanted to speak Spanish, be in Latin America, and have a hands-on experience, not just an easy sprinkling of classes and an overload of partying. But when I arrived at my program, CIEE Service-Learning in Santiago, DR, I got a lot more than I bargained for: rapid-fire and sometimes incomprehensible Dominican dialect, primary school students who challenged me in more ways than I could have imagined, celebrations that consumed entire months, and travel that pushed me, broadened my mind, and healed me. My semester was incredibly intense and undoubtedly challenging, but it was also, overwhelmingly, amazing.