Getting more comfortable with Spanish and independence August 13, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 07/21/2018 to 07/15/2019 with

Middlebury Schools Abroad: Middlebury in Santiago

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was absolutely worthwhile. My Spanish improved immensely and I feel so much more comfortable with it. I also feel more comfortable advocating for myself, given that I had to do it all year in a second language. I made amazing friends, both Chilean and from my program, that I can’t imagine my life without now. It also was so helpful to break away from the *elite liberal arts bubble* and take more practical, focused classes, meet students who act on their activism and aren’t afraid to have a conversation, and have differently paced (note that I did not say easier) coursework.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-sure Middlebury team is excellent and I miss them all. At the end and beginning of the semester there can be some delay in email response, but never to urgent issues, and the team is always helpful and responsive.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host family, and we got along great. I do feel like the host family can make or break the experience, so be highly specific in the survey and speak to the on site staff if you are uncomfortable with anything.

* Food:

I personally really enjoy Chilean foods (bread, avocado, legumes, things with lots of vegetables especially squash and potatoes, completos!) but I will admit that there is a certain lack of variety, and if you eat a lot for breakfast and at night you’ll find yourself out of your element.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This is more of a personal reflection, as I am pretty shy. If you go out and actually make an effort to involve yourself and talk to people you should not have problems.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I personally didn’t have any experiences with healthcare in Santiago, but I have friends who did and nobody had issues.

* Safety:

I consistently felt very safe in Santiago, just be conscious of your belongings in cafes, the metro, and micros to avoid having items stolen.

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

I loved my experience with Middlebury in Chile. I was looking for an immersive experience so that I could really work on my Spanish, and that’s what I got. I improved immensely in both all aspects but especially listening (during my first semester) and speaking (during both but mostly my second semester).

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)

Outside of rent, it’s very easy to not spend a ton of money, that is, if you eat all of your meals at home. My only necessary expenses were transportation. Food and drinks aren’t that much cheaper than in the US, though.I did find it was much cheaper to travel than in the US, especially if you go by bus.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $15-25
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat your or prepare your meals at home! You are paying for it in your rent! Also get a student BIP card, even if you are only there the semester. It makes transportation much cheaper.

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

There is a language pledge.

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? SPAN329
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? Don’t let other students in the program pressure you into using english all of the time. Make chilean friends and spend time with your host family. Get involved in a sport of other extracurriculars.

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
  • International 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?
  • Host Family
  • Cultural Mentors
  • Language Pledge
* What could be improved?
  • Making sure EVERYONE sticks to pledge
  • Easier pathway into extracurriculars
  • Consistency amongst host families
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that local students were super friendly, but that I needed to approach them first because they didn’t want to bother me. I also wish I knew to apply for a student bip for transportation.

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!