Eye-opening through reflection on global education systems December 18, 2020

By (Astronomy, Whitman College) - abroad from 09/14/2020 to 12/04/2020 with

SIT Study Abroad: Chile - Comparative Education and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The first noticeable learning experience was the improvement in my Spanish abilities. Nothing beats immersing yourself in the language and having no choice but to speak it! I also reflected a lot on the education system itself in the United States and how it is structured and what affect that has on student learning and development. I also developed a new perspective through which to view my past experiences, and I thought critically about my time in the public education system in Minnesota and how my experiences affected my learning then and how they continue to affect my learning today.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The main components of the program were three projects I designed with my internship advisor, so it was all very personal to what I was interested in and relevant to our conversations. Through these projects, I had the opportunity to work on my research skills as well as improve my abilities to complete projects entirely in Spanish.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My program was entirely virtual, so I am sure the organization was a little different than usual, but the SIT staff made sure that all the interns knew they were there to support them and assist them at any time. They made me feel very comfortable going to them with questions about the program or to share any concerns or suggestions. We had weekly meetings with the SIT staff and other interns, which were great opportunities to connect with the other interns and reflect on our individual experiences at our internship sites.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

This program was virtual, so I did not live in Chile, although I am sure it would have been a wonderful experience.

* Food:

Not relevant for the virtual program.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was unable to travel to Chile, however, I got to know the SIT staff and my internship advisors as friends, and I learned from them about the local culture and differences and similarities between Chilean and American culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Not relevant for the virtual program.

* Safety:

Not relevant for the virtual program.

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

I would love to have the opportunity to participate in this program in Chile. There are definite certain advantages to an online format, and I believe much of the profound reflection I engaged in with my advisor was due to our focused virtual meetings, but nothing compares to actually being in the country and living the experience.

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)

Not relevant for the virtual program.

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

All work and communication was entirely in Spanish for this program. This definitely made me nervous at first, but I quickly became more comfortable with my abilities and accepted the inevitability of making mistakes.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? A couple 300 level Spanish courses at my college.
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? I know it can be nerve-racking to enter into a space with fluent Spanish speakers and to try your best to understand and communicate with them. My advice would be to accept wherever you are at with the language and just talk as much as you can and engage in conversation as much as you can. That is how you will learn the fastest and it can be awkward to make mistakes, but that is part of the learning experience, and it can be hard to see this in the moment, but you will be so thankful you challenged yourself and stepped outside of your comfort zone.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Flexibility and support from SIT staff
  • Inclusion of my interests in projects
  • Working directly with a member of the organization
* What could be improved?
  • Project schedules
  • Community among interns
  • Organization context
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known more about the meeting schedule and how the time difference would affect those meetings...I had some rather unpleasant 6am meetings.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.