Valparaiso and Vina del Mar: fun, educational, and different! Past Review

By (Accounting, Wake Forest University) for

ISA Study Abroad in Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I would do it every summer if I could. The location was awesome, the classes were actually interesting and not too demanding. The program itself was helpful and only added to the experience.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso
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 teachers were impressive, the expectations were lower than at my home university, and the grading was more relaxed. There were no interim assignments--just final papers and projects. There were also no tests.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

All resources were really accessible. I was easily placed into the courses I needed. I found everyone to be helpful beyond what I would ever expect. There was internet access available at the university and in the ISA office which is conveniently situated directly across the street so students do not need to travel through unsafe areas.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing situation was about a 50 minute commute to class that included a 20 minute walk and 30 minute metro ride. My neighborhood was safe and gated but to use public transportation you would need to exit the neighborhood and the surrounding area was at times questionable, especially at night. My host family was very helpful and treated me as a guest. They had a housekeeper who would not let me help with anything. There was also a daughter close to my age that made it easier to meet international friends and a younger son that often got my help with his English homework.

* Food:

The food was great and there was always more than enough of it. I never ate out because my host family provided so many options.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Some of the organized field trips were a little boring but the one to the many coastal locations was awesome. Also our week in Santiago in the beginning of the program was very action-packed and interesting. We went to a soccer game one night in Santiago that was an awesome experience that wasn't necessarily part of the prescribed program. We each payed a really low additional fee to attend.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There were no health issues and I didn't need any vaccines specifically for the program.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Most people did not speak English. I spoke Spanish with professors, my host family, and international students I met in Chile. I only used English with other ISA students and even that was discouraged.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Location
  • Class Choices
* What could be improved?
  • The location of host families--they were very spread apart from other international students
  • Class scheduling i.e. no Fridays to permit travel, or not all 8am's
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You need a sense of adventure because it sprawls across two cities that can be a little daunting to navigate. Also most people in the area do not speak English so you have to stay with other international students if you are not comfortable with the basics. The accent is pretty tough to understand but you adjust quickly. There are awesome hikes and outdoor activities within the reach of public transportation. Also Valparaiso has a strong cultural history and is suprisingly more metropolitan than one would expect. There is a financial district and also great artisan neighborhoods in the high hills that are made up of impressive architecture, and great attractions, all of which are covered in political graffiti.