This place will forever be something incredible nestled deep in my heart February 18, 2017

By (Art and International Relations, Claremont McKenna College) - abroad from 08/20/2016 to 12/04/2016 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
What I am capable of. How much I can depend on myself and how valuable I am to myself. Independence and how to face what may seem daunting with calm and clarity and proceed.

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.

Education happens outside of the classroom and that education is fantastic. The education that happens inside the classroom is, yes very much in interesting and relevant topics, but is the traditional lecture at students and in this way not as engaging and eventful as experiential and other types of education that nurtures more dialogue. Nonetheless constant classes in Spanish do very much help your language skills. Outside of the traditional classroom the learning experience is very much boundless. You are the decision maker in how much you want to challenge yourself to think and grow in new ways and how much you want to explore and come to understand. Through these lessons you learn an invaluable perspective and way of living.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration, the director and people who make this happen that you see from day to day are some of the most kind hearted and thoughtful people. They truly make your experience. They also understand you as an individual and a student. They recognize that the experience of being in Chile and exploring it is where the real learning is and for this they support you in those kinds of activities and don't expect you to spend 100% of your time sitting in a library studying.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Made such a strong connection with my host mom. She truly became a very special person to me. She also helped so much with making my experience a meaningful one. She gave value and depth to my time in Chile. You simply have to be upfront about eating needs but also be flexible and understand that you will miss the wholesome goodness of home food.

* Food:

Nooot my favorite. In general Chilean food does not know what spicy natural flavor is. I missed the burritos and tacos from back home in Southern California and just in general a more balanced diet. Lots of carbs and not many vitamins and minerals through those leafy friends. So just get ready you might leave the country looking a little more like a pillow than when you came. Although empanadas are near and dear to my heart and you can't walk longer than a minute without finding one to buy.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This program is incredible in the sense that you spend a significant portion of it traveling and living with different groups of Chileans. This within itself gives you so much cultural integration. You have to try a little harder to break through into social culture with youth though if that's what you are intending to do. Make an effort to join clubs and do things that would draw the people you would like to get to know in Chile, but go to the locations where you would be able to talk and meet people. It for sure is possible, but it is also somewhat up to you.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Didn't really have an experience with this so can't speak on it. But to my understanding from what my friends on the program that did have health related issues told me was that is went smoothly and someone from SIT would always accompany you and support you if you wanted.

* Safety:

Use your head and follow your gut and don't let anything else hold you back. That was my mentality throughout my time in Chile. I never had any problems safety wise. Listen to people who have experience on what areas are ok and which are not. There very much are areas where it is unsafe to go or you will most likely be robbed. But don't go there or leave everything of value in a safe place. I would say the administration is very aware of both your safety and your independence and desire for adventures and cares for you with all in mind.

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

You have the freedom to make it fully your own experience and the support to do so. If you are passionate and full of energy. appreciation and drive you will make it something powerful.

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)

It was pretty easy. But it completely up to you and what you want to do. Living in a city means pretty much everything you do will have a price whether that is the transport getting there or the price of the event, just keep that in mind and do what you can and want to do.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100 maybe, but also depending on if I adventured or not
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Keep a list of everything you spend on your phone. Just add to it as you spend so you can keep your budget in mind.

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

Whenever you were around the administration they would always remind you to be speaking Spanish. If you needed for any reason though they would listen to you in English and respond.

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? Spanish 44 which is a foreign lit level class at my university
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? Just use it. And have conversations with your host family. Make friends and talk to them. Engage with Chileans. And be kind to yourself learning a language takes time.

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?
  • The beauty of the country and the power of the history and people
  • The freedom to make it what I wanted
  • The people I met and deep long lasting connections I made
* What could be improved?
  • The lecture time vs experiential learning time
  • ISP period is too short
  • Access to Spanish classes/ help after the initial class time ends.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A whole lot about Chilean history and culture that I relate to so many things I am learning in my classes back in the US.