The Experience of a Lifetime- My Time Abroad in Chile April 27, 2015

By (Nursing, Messiah College) - abroad from 05/15/2013 to 07/26/2013 with

ISA Study Abroad in Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that the world is full of varying cultures and languages yet when it comes down to it we are all still humans. I learned that while the world seems so large, each day it gets smaller and smaller with technological advances and new means of communication. I also learned that traveling open your eyes to the everyday life, struggles, happiness, and dreams of other people and that in itself makes studying abroad and traveling 100% worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The courses were intense but not to the point of high stress levels. I certainly learned an immense amount of new knowledge regarding the Spanish language during these courses which was exactly what I needed and wanted!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

ISA-Chile did an absolutely wonderful and thorough job of ensuring that each student felt comfortable and welcomed. They even made sure to help us with travel ideas, and any homework or assignment issues that we were having.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I truly could not have asked for a more perfectly suited host family for me. They truly made for an amazing study abroad experience in all that they did, from making me feel genuinely part of the family, to helping me with homework, to ensuring that I got the most out of my time in Chile. I also felt safe, comfortable, and welcomed in our home, and it honestly felt just like that, home. I still to this day consider them my second family and am still in touch with them!

* Food:

While the Chilean cuisine is not like the cuisine that people think of when they think of South America, it was certainly unique and flavorful in its own way, and the bread there is absolutely the best bread I have ever had in my life!!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I truly made it a point to immerse myself 100% in the Chilean culture which made for a very positive experience. I felt very comfortable around native Chileans all whom were very welcoming and helpful. I also really enjoyed the Chilean social scenes and the relative laid-back atmosphere which made every event more enjoyable and less stressful.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

While I personally did not experience the Chilean healthcare scene, the few minor illness' that I had during my time in Chile were handled by my host mom and weren't at the severity of needing ISA program leader involvement. However, I knew of some students who did require medical treatment and ISA Program assistance and they mentioned that the service they received both from the ISA staff and the Chilean healthcare system was very thorough, with the student's safety and comfort always placed first. To study abroad in Chile I was required to have a Typhoid shot, which I had already received for a previous trip abroad.

* Safety:

There was honestly never a time during my study abroad in Chile that I ever felt unsafe or threatened. I was always aware of my surroundings, practiced safe street-smarts and never put myself in a jeopardizing situation. My host family also always made sure I was safe and never allowed me to go to places that they were not knowledgeable of.

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

Finances

* 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)

In country transportation in Chile is very cheap!!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $30
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Save more money than you think you'll use during your time abroad because you never know when an emergency arises or you see a gift for someone that you know they would absolutely love and just have to purchase. This allows you to have one less stress and more flexibility, after all what you don't spend you'll still have when you get back!

Language

* 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

I loved this aspect because it (in a nice way) forced me to practice my Spanish which overall helped me to get to my fluency level today.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
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? SPAN 206
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Make it your goal to make as many Chilean friends as you can and then always hang out with them, that way your forced to use Spanish when communicating with them but they'll also help you to make more friends and are a great way to maintain your Spanish skills even after coming back to the US!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • The immersion I had into the Chilean cuture.
  • My host family.
  • My new fluency that I gained in the Spanish language.
* What could be improved?
  • More additional support from ISA staff when it comes to student's desires to travel to other parts of the country or out of the country.
  • More ISA program- included weekend excursions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known how cold the winters are in Chile since the houses there don't have heat so that I could have brought more jackets and warm clothing. I also wish I had known how fashionable Chileans dress even for going out shopping so that I could have packed more appropriate outfits.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.