Chilling in Chile Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/24/2014 to 06/09/2014 with

SIT Study Abroad: Chile - Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that my experience is really what I made of it. I also learned that sometimes, many things can go wrong, and to learn to accept that possibility and deal with it.

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.

I thought the program gave a very brief overview of the various current and public issues within Chile today. However, since we were trying to get an overview and were limited by time, we saw lecturers maybe once or twice and weren't able to go deeper into these topics. Homework readings didn't seem relevant to the lectures and some were extremely long.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Tip: one thin to always keep in mind while abroad is that one must always be prepared for changes and cancellations. If you are okay with "going with flow" the changes in scheduling and classes and abrupt due dates and start dates will not worry you. However, the academic director, Choqui, was always available for support.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with three host families and all three were very friendly and adequate. Keep in mind that most houses in Chile do not have heating, so no matter when you go, it will be cold for at least 1/3 of your semester. Bring a warm jacket; I found myself sleeping bundled up.

* Food:

Food was bland, but Chile is not known for its food. My program covered food with my host family, and I liked it. There is a lot of bread and carbs and few vegetables with meals at home, but lunches in restaurants are inexpensive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

With the constraints of my program, I hung out with my program-mates rather than any Chilean friends. It is hard to join the Chilean cliques but remember that your experience is really what you make of it.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I brought my own medication that I was familiar with (Tylenol, aspirin, cough medicine) but there are lots of pharmacies available with that same kind of medication as well. Chile is very humid, and my allergies and cough acted up at the beginning so the climate takes some getting used to.

* Safety:

I was never robbed, but various other people in my program had their phones and laptops taken. Don't carry your valuables and if you do look like a gringo, do not be loud and obvious about it because you are a target. Try not to walk alone at night and try not to go up into the hills of Valparaiso. Do not fight if someone comes and steals your stuff because most of the robbers work in groups.

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


* 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)

For me, I managed my money very tightly to make sure I had enough for emergencies, but again, money is something that depends on the person as what you want to buy. Most things are more expensive, but food is not. Plus my host family provided me with meals so I took advantage of them rather than go out and spend money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 50


* 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

Our director did not want us to speak in English at all, and her expectations really helped us improve our Spanish.

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? I took a fourth level language course freshman year.
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? Just make a promise to refrain from using English. When you're with other Americans, there is that temptation, but try not to give in and practice Spanish together.

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?
  • Immersion
  • New culture
  • Bread
* What could be improved?
  • More communication with the directors about schedules
  • Preparation for entrance into culture as Americans.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Bring a warm jacket and be prepared for rain. Also, as gringos, people will try to rip you off, so ask for receipts and check the receipt to make sure you were charged correctly for your items.

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.'