Your semester abroad is YOURS and YOURS alone! Past Review

By (Brown University) - abroad from 07/23/2014 to 12/05/2014 with

IES Abroad: Santiago - Study in Santiago

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My semester in Chile taught me that being abroad is not at all like you often see it portrayed. When you're looking at another person's experience on Facebook or study abroad review sites, you tend to really be seeing a highlight reel: pictures from crazy parties, insane weekend trips, or other extraordinary moments. You never get shown the times in between, the evening spent doing readings or enjoying quiet chats with the host family or taking slow, solitary strolls through the city. This can present a problem, though, because after being inundated with all the highlight reels, it's easy to see these more mundane moments as a waste of your precious time abroad. What I learned in Santiago is that there are tiny, magical victories hidden in those slower days. Little things like participating in class or taking the subway in a new city or trying a new food, all things that were terrifying before coming abroad have been made to seem mundane through daily repetition. To me, that is progress. That is growing. To conquer your fears over and over until they start to seem downright boring is what studying abroad is all about. And once you achieve that, you find new things that terrify you, and you rinse and repeat.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Attentive, respectful, knowledgeable

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I personally got lucky with my homestay. Other students in my group weren't as satisfied,but my family was fantastic.

* Food:

Could be bland if you didn't go to the right places. Chilean cuisine features many mild core ingredients like bread, mayo, avocado, and tomato.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It's tough to get involved in social groups. They're easy enough to find, but it takes time to really get integrated. The sooner you start, the better.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any encounters with health care while abroad.

* Safety:

Pickpocketing happens! With a few easy tricks that IES teaches you early on, though, you'll be in good shape.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Depending on how often you go out, you can avoid a lot of spending. Homestays feed you several times a day. However, frequent nights out can add up alarmingly fast. Stick to free activities like museums, parks, or just strolling around and exploring!

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't go to restaurants or bars >1x a week. It will add up crazy fast. Prioritize meeting people instead of seeing places, and you'll save a bunch and still have a fulfilling experience.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

IES seemed to be adamant about discouraging English, but they slackened almost immediately to the point where the program director would regularly address us in English.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? A creative writing workshop in Spanish.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Talk to NATIVE SPEAKERS. Limit your English to 30 mins a day if not zero.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Supportive staff
  • Excellent peer groups
  • Plenty of chances to get involved
* What could be improved?
  • Access to student Metro passes (cuts subway fare to about 1/3 of normal)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? See above. Mundane =/= a waste of time. Slow days are not unacceptable and even to be encouraged once in a while!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!