A worthy program even with extenuating circumstances January 06, 2020

By (Occidental College) - 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?
My Spanish improved immensely, I went from not feeling comfortable speaking in front of others to being able to have hours-long conversations. It was definitely worthwhile in the context of my academic interests and growing as a student.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The first month of classes can be a little intense, at least compared to my home institution but the months of October and November were comparably lighter. The amount of resources reflected the work as this program stressed independence and the ability of the student to find their own resources.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration did their very best especially in times of uncertainty, they proved to be very capable and cared about our perspective and opinion.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

SIT did a great job pairing me with my homestay and with the other students, they really do think about the living arrangements carefully which is appreciated.

* Food:

Chilean food is not terribly exciting but it was always good. SIT also did a good job accommodating those with dietary needs and restrictions.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt integrated in the context of my homestay but because we did not have classes with Chilean students I missed out on the perspective of people my own age.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have a health issue and SIT were always very prepared and helped people if there was an issue.

* Safety:

The city of Valparaiso is definitely safe during the day in almost all neighborhoods, however at night it is highly recommended that students not walk home alone. There were multiple incidents of people getting their phone stolen as newer phones, especially iPhones, are considered a luxury good.

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

I really liked the people on the program and I feel like I grew a lot as a person as I navigated a new environment. Additionally, the social movement that arose during my time in Chile inspired me to look at politics in the US more critically, and encouraged me to start social change back at home. Chile is really a beautiful place with some of the kindest people and a real sense of community that I'm so glad I got to experience.


* 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)

Chile is very cheap, especially compared to the United States and Europe. It was also very easy to not spend money on food as I could also eat with my homestay family.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $25
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Not really an issue unless you plan on shopping a lot or going to things like wine-tastings frequently.


* 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

We were constantly encouraged to only speak Spanish as it was considered rude and impolite to use English around people who can't understand it.

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 202
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? Definitely try to practice as much as you can beforehand, it's fine if you can't speak Spanish that well as long as you can comprehend what's being said to you.

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?
  • My homestay
  • The students on the program
  • Learning about human rights
* What could be improved?
  • Communication between the team in the US and the team in Chile
  • Improve orientation to be shorter/more relevant
  • Helping students set up their phones
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Independence is definitely a huge part of this program and that I should have felt comfortable making plans and not waiting for someone else to do so.

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!