Unforgettable Adventure full of extraness, self love, and wanderlust September 29, 2018

By (Sociology, Trinity University) - abroad from 02/27/2018 to 06/11/2018 with

SIT Study Abroad: Chile - Comparative Education and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
A sense of adventure and critical reflexivity. Of course

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.

Not as intense in the traditional academic sense but the excursions and school visits put into practice all the theoretical knowledge.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The SIT staff in the Comparative Education program in Chile, are some of the most caring and genuinely passionate group of people I know. Even before arriving to Chile, the staff reached out to me and another students who were arriving early and offered to give us transportation from the airport to a hostel they recommended. From moment we landed, they greeted everyone of us with a hug and warm smile and this lasted all throughout the program. They were helpful and attentive to the needs of the group. They established an environment where one could feel free to the approach them with any concern. They checked in routinely about our home stays. They made it feel like more than school, but an actual home. They even let us paint a mural in CASA SIT! I am grateful for the supportive administration because they helped make my experience what it was!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a total of 4 host families because the program travels to various areas of the Chile and Argentina. All of the homestays were located in fairly accessible areas by metro and micro. My families were one of the best parts of my experience abroad. I think the program does a good job of setting up the students with their host families. However, I advise that people be as detailed as possible in their homestay letters .

* Food:

Chilean cuisine is interesting!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Chilean culture and idioms are one of a kind, you will acquire a new set of words and fluidity with the Spanish language. This is coming from a native Spanish speaker whose own culture ( Mexican) is known for its peculiar slang. Up until my last month, I was still discovering new chilenismos ( Chilean slang) either during diner with my host mom, or out in the streets talking to street vendors. From the infamous " Po" a filler word used to end all sentences, to the daily greetings of "┬┐Como Estai? ( how are you), you will quickly pick up on this newfound dialect and it will be come part of you own Spanish. The warm, inviting, loving nature of Latinx culture is live and present in Chile; not only is it native to Chilean culture, but the amalgamation cultures with the recent waves of immigrants from Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Haiti has reinforced this vibrant latinx culture. Chile has complex history with the first democratically elected socialist government and the brutal 20 year dictatorship that affects many of the social/public institutions especially their education system. As an aspiring history teacher, I was interested in learning how the uber privatized and neoliberal government came to be. In this process, I realized the heavy US involvement that tragically shaped Chilean history and future.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

N/A

* Safety:

Like any big city, always be on the look out. Don't go out late at night. Be respectful, try to speak Spanish as much as possible don't standout like a tourist.

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

I went through a lot while abroad both good and bad. However, I would go through all of it again for the sake of those good memories.

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)

From the all of the countries in Latin America, Chile has one of the strongest economies. Thus leading to U.S. like prices if not higher. The conversion rate took sometime to get used to. It will take a lot of effort on your part but it is possible to explore and have fun on a budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 75-100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? keep a journal of how much you spend in both foreign currency and US currency. Don't exchange all your money at once and in one place. Follow the trajectory of their economy and look for a good period to exchange.

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

allowed us to speak it during lunch but all academic activities were in Spanish

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
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? I am a native speaker
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? Fight against your urge to use English. It is scary and intimidating but really push yourself the first month because that will foreshadow your overall language learning experience. Come in with a positive attitude

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

  • 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?
  • Loving Familes
  • Passionate Chileans
  • Lifelong Friends
* What could be improved?
  • Food
  • transportation
  • update the
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had know more about contemporary south american history and US involvement in Latin America overall.

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.'