A beautiful yet very challenging experience. Past Review

By (Wesleyan University) - abroad from 02/17/2017 to 07/20/2017 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Concepcion

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was very challenging in many ways, but I have really learned out to advocate for myself, even in a second language (In host family settings and in hospital settings). I came out pretty fluent in Spanish and comfortable and confident to communicate with any Spanish speaker, so it was absolutely worthwhile despite the struggles.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I had one amazing class, reviewed below. Otherwise, my classes were very poor academic quality and two of them went on strike for the majority of the semester. I had very little academic support and felt very much alone with the huge burden of finishing course work on my own in order to receive credit; one of my professors would never answer my emails so I consistently felt alone and sort of helpless.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Wonderful admin- Juan, Lindsay, and Paulina are kind, responsive, and supportive people.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a very negative experience with my first host family, it was a very bad match. However, the onsite staff helped me move to another location and supported me. Unfortunately, the second host family was also a negative experience. Having previously lived in Costa Rica with a wonderful host family, I must say that I was highly disappointed by this aspect of my study abroad experience in Chile. However, I will say that other students in my program had wonderful host families- this stuff really does come down to luck sometimes and does not reflect on my actual program.

* Food:

Food was a key issue- I am a vegetarian and was placed in a family of meat eaters who did not understand that I do not eat meat and it became a huge point of tension as I tried to respectfully bring in my own food to eat sometimes, since I could not eat what was provided. Eventually I had to move.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt pretty integrated- I found an acroyoga community filled with kind, inclusive, and friendly people and made great friends through that. It was difficult to make friends through school because I had classes on 3 different far apart campuses and also 2 of my classes went on strike for the majority of the semester.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got a very bad asthma exacerbation at the very end of the semester. I was able to go to clinics in Chile to get treatment- my program assisted me by offering to accompany me to appointments and urgent care. In that sense, health care was good. However, the quality of treatment I received was not great. I felt my health issues were not taken seriously. In the end, I had to return to the USA 2 weeks early and miss my end traveling in order to receive care. Again, this is not indicative of lack of quality of my program, just of the health care I received.

* Safety:

I felt very safe. I lived in Viña del Mar and always felt safe walking alone, even at night. In Valparaíso I would just be careful not to have your phone out in the street or to look at maps- it isn't quite as safe there, especially at night.

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

I was not sure which to pick, yes or no. If I were to do it all over again, I would maybe choose my same program in a different country. My host family experiences and academic experiences were very poor overall. However, my program really encouraged language improvement and I feel that that made it all worth it in the end.


* 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)

Vi'a del mar is expensive. My rating includes room and board. I spent 600 per month on room and board. Which was supposed to include all food but I supplemented a lot of my own fruits and veggies so it was a bit more expensive.

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? I am not a huge party drinks person, but bars add up


* 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

This part of the program was incredible. The program really encouraged me and the others to only speak in Spanish; in fact, this is a part of the program's language pledge. I was pleased by this part of my experience. I improved a ton.

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? Intro Spanish Lit
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? Do not make stay in a bubble of American students- branch out and make friends from the place you are studying and only speak in the foreign language; even if it seems difficult, it is the best way to learn

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
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?
  • Language pledge
  • Faculty
* What could be improved?
  • Academics
  • Host family matching
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I was not prepared really for how difficult it would be, dealing with academic strikes, host family difficulties, etc. Studying abroad is not all fun and rainbows; it is an incredible experience but filled with challenges that help you mature and grow and learn.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Linguistica, cognición, y sociedad

Course Department: Pedagogía (Campus Saucolito)
Instructor: Fernando Fabian Moncada Nahuelquin
Instruction Language: Español
Comments: It was an incredible course. The professor is engaging, leads wonderful discussions, is very intelligent, and speaks clearly. The material is fascinating (intro linguistics course with an emphasis on socio-linguistics) Highly recommend!!
Credit Transfer Issues: