Chile's Infinite Gifts June 11, 2017

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/21/2017 to 06/05/2017 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Chile offers something for everyone since it is an extraordinarily diverse country. One can find fast-paced city life in the capital of Santiago, or a more laid-back experience in Valparaiso. We also had the opportunity to travel to rural communities in both the North and South of the country, which offered another special perspective of the country and citizens. The program did a good job providing historical and cultural background in our classes, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to develop specific knowledge about this country.

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.

This program has a strong academic focus. We had access to noteworthy professors who are leading researchers in their field. I had the opportunity to work with a prominent professor and activist as my advisor for my independent research project.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff is an incredibly organized and supportive network. They had a large influence on my positive experience in Chile.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I became very close with my host mother and extended host family. Chileans often maintain traditional values of keeping the family close and connected, so I had the opportunity to get to the know the extended family well. Every Sunday the entire family would gather and spend the day together.

* Food:

The food in Chile isn't exactly known for anything special. Empanadas, completos (similar to hot dogs), but nothing else super noteworthy. I probably missed food the most during my time in Chile.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This is something totally self-directed. If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture and meet locals, you can by being assertive and deliberate. You can also maintain

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got a virus from eating raw vegetables that likely weren't cleaned enough. The program set me up with a doctor immediately and my host mother accompanied me. The doctor was very helpful and the care I received was great. The only negative part of the experience was that I had to pay a relatively large sum up front to be seen, and then later on repay the program in cash. I expect to be reimbursed by my insurance.

* Safety:

Older, more traditional residents of Valparaíso talk about how the city is full of delinquency these days. I didn't necessarily find this to be the case, in my opinion it is just like any other city. You need to watch your things diligently, don't walk alone at night, don't walk with you iPhone in your hands in the street. Several of my friends had their phone stolen on buses, but these situations could have been avoided with greater caution.

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

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)

By living with a host family, you save a lot of money on meals. I spent most of my money on public transit (which is inexpensive), and going out to dinner/drinks with my friends.

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

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 106b
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? This is another self-directed aspect of the program--you can choose to put a lot of effort into improving your spanish by speaking with other students in spanish instead of english. The program also offers free spanish tutors in addition to the spanish classes, which I found to be very useful!

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?
  • Host family
  • Traveling to different parts of the country
  • Small academic cohort
* What could be improved?
  • Orientation: during orientation and throughout the program, the administrators spoke as if the group of US students were all having the same experience in Chile, which erased the fact that students of color were experiencing racism and having experiences specific to their race
  • Shorter class days at the beginning, perhaps condensing the afternoon lectures
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Many aspects of study abroad are self-directed. Often times you have the agency to choose how much and how deeply you engage with the locals, the culture, the language, etc. I wish that once I had arrived and settled in, I set concrete goals for myself of things that I wanted to do/see/accomplish during my time there.

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Spanish 3000

Course Department: Spanish
Instructor: Virna Diaz, Miguel Olivares
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This class was relaxed and almost entirely conversational. You have the opportunity as a student to direct the class toward areas in which you need improvement. I wish I took more advantage of this loose structure and was more assertive in taking charge of my own educational goals.
Credit Transfer Issues: