Bread, microbuses, spanish and chilenismos July 14, 2017

By (Oklahoma State University - Stillwater) - abroad from 02/17/2017 to 07/21/2017 with

Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso: Valparaiso - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a greater appreciation for south america, its cultures and some of its history. It was absolutely worthwhile to be able to experience such a different kind of culture. It was also fantastic to be able to meet other students from all over the world and experience such a new place and language with them.

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.

The classes were not difficult in almost any aspect, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing because I wanted to travel and see the country. The professors and staff were very kind and helpful, but after a while I was not very engaged in the classwork.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

All of the staff and professors that I worked with were very kind and knowledgeable and helpful. I couldn't have asked for better help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a very good time getting to know my host family but we didn't do a whole lot of things together outside of the house. Also, I was out of the house often with friends so we didn't interact a whole lot most of the time, but they were very kind to me and always helped me if I needed it.

* Food:

I love empanadas now, but overall I can't say that the Chilean food was the best part of my experience there. There was a lot of bread with every meal which I wasn't my favorite but the meals that my host family prepared were usually very good.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I feel like a got a pretty good idea of what it was like to be chilean and for the most part I could navigate around the cities relatively incognito and confidently so I felt pretty good about my integration into the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

At the beginning of the semester I had a problem with a little bit of tonsillitis but as soon as I voiced my concern I was able to get an appointment with a health professional to get it checked out. Soon after I received the proper medication and didn't have any other problems.

* Safety:

I never personally had any problems with safety. All of the stories I heard about unsafe situations happened to people I knew or other students I had heard about. Really its the same advice as anywhere though. Just make sure you're with friends if its at night in the city. That about covers safety.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I loved the experience i had but if i could do it again i would like to experience a difference latin american culture.

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)

Living with a host family I could certainly have a majority of meals at home at no extra cost, but going out to the city at night did start to get more expensive over time. The real cost came around any time I went on a trip. It was almost more difficult while traveling.

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

During my classes at the university the encouragement was good, but I was annoyed that the university kept all of the foreign exchange student classes completely isolated from the regular students and the other classes in the university. Also, the university accepted mostly american students from what i could tell so that after class was over almost everybody spoke english anyway.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 3000
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? Id say the best way to get good practice would be to make friends that are spanish speakers and to be careful not to hang out with other americans too often because they'll almost always speak english.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

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

  • 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?
  • Being able to practice my Spanish so much
  • The friends I made
  • The beautiful natural landscapes of Chile
* What could be improved?
  • The integration of foreign and local spanish classes
  • I had hoped that there would be fewer americans in the program, but at this university it was the majority
  • Just have a better idea of what the classes would be before i chose them. I went in kind of blind and ended up taking two classes that weren't particularly interesting or useful to me.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish i knew to take lots of side trips, and that finding lots of friends from all parts of the world is a whole lot of fun so to be sure to do that from the beginning.