An amazing experience & a privilege to witness the pueblos social revolution. December 18, 2019

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/27/2019 to 12/09/2019 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 about Chile’s History like the Dictatorship, the constitution, its neo-liberal system, privatized system, marginalized groups, issues that oppress citizens. I learned about the indigenous communities: Aymara and Mapuche. I learned about afro descendents, new waves of immigrant groups. I learned the manner in which other States impose US imperial/colonization tactics. Finally, I learned about the power of the people and their fight against oppressing forces brought by the state in its mission to defend its sovereignty and uphold marginalizing demands.

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.

The program was too structured, and the courses felt pointless at times (as a native Spanish speaker) sometimes it felt like the courses were just created to fulfill US university's demands instead of actually serving the student's educational growth. A lot of the courses taught very repetitive subjects/topics.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Due to the social revolution things became a bit complicated. The program coordinators handled everything pretty great. Nonetheless, towards the end of the semester I did have small problems with my host family which were not handled professionally I believe. Sometimes the way things were handled lead to "gossip" or "drama".

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Pretty satisfied until the very end when I became a bit uncomfortable with host parents.

* Food:

The food was not my favorite. Very flavorless and my host mom had little-to-no experience cooking (she had just retired so she was getting used to the kitchen).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like I could manage the city, get around and communicate with others but due to the structure of the program there was very little time to interact with people our age outside of the program which led to main interactions with students from the program (this created a bit of tension with students).

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

They did a brief run down during orientation. Fortunately, I had no issues with healthcare.

* Safety:

I felt very safe most of the time. Honestly, I felt least safest when I had to commute from home to class due to the street dogs. Most street dogs are calm/nice but some were very aggressive and dangerous to be near.

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

The program was exhausting and overwhelming with its very close net structure and little freedom that it provided.

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)

Because the program provided us with stipends it was easy to manage expenses. Chile's economy is well off compared to other countries in LA, thus, a lot of personal spending was expensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $300.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I recommend traveling with USD in cash and converting the money in the country. Also, if you could walk places do it (saves you a lot of money in the long run). Eat at host family's home to safe money.

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? Fluent
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 came into the program as a native Spanish speaker and had taken native Spanish speaking courses in High School. Passed the international baccalaureate (IB) higher level Spanish exam with a 6.
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? Speak the language with friends/family. Read in that language. Even if you are a native speaker there is always something to improve.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Learning about Chile's history for 3 months
  • Witnessing social uplifting
  • Living in Valparaiso
* What could be improved?
  • Host families that have been in the program for too long (10+ years) should be talked to about their continuation in the program (sometimes they could grow tired and start treating students bad).
  • Program set up. It does not allow for interaction with actual Chileans. Other than force interaction during excursions and/or class guest.
  • Maybe some sort of week break for traveling etc... Really hard to do this with the programs schedule.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I cannot take things said by men in other countries to heart and should not expect for immediate answers and support from programs when it comes to issues with men. Support from school (SIT or any study abroad program) looks very different abroad. Making friends in programs like these is very hard. The amount of privilege white students in the program would impact my time there (seeing them everyday and how little awareness/respect they have for peoples fight).

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!