Growing confidence in my Spanish while building relationships Past Review

By (Amherst 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?
I learned who I am and what I really want to do in my studies and career. I learned about the beauty of cities, the unique risks and challenges that Chile is facing, and the joy of living next to the ocean. It was worth every penny, every scary moment, every awkward first encounter, every sacrifice, every second.

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 educational experience in an SIT program is so special and distinct from the traditional university setting! I really valued the experiential learning and the opportunity to do intensive independent research.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The team is amazing! They are passionate, kind, devoted, and sincerely invested in your growth as a student and person!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My home stay was the highlight of my experience! The staff do an amazing job matching families to students and helping students walk through any challenges they might face in their homestays.

* Food:

Chile has INCREDIBLE desserts - pies, cakes, cheesecakes, anything with manjar! Avocado and bread were staples in my diet. The entres were simple in flavor but sufficient.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The homestay really helped my feel connected to the Valparaíso culture, but I did not feel very connected to local students.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Even during the protests starting in October and continuing through the end of my program, the program staff ensured our safety and were very helpful in advising us on how to navigate the city safely and protect ourselves and our belongings.

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

The Independent Study Project period during the last month of the program confirmed the calling on my life to change my major to Architecture and to work in disaster relief. This program pushed me outside of my comfort zones in all the right ways and I’m so grateful of the growth that I now get to live out in my home institution.


* 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 is very easy to live on a student’s budget in Valparaiso! The host families pack lunch for the students every day, toiletries are affordable, and this SIT program gave transportation stipends 3 or 4 times throughout the semester.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $10-$20
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Exchange a good amount of money in the beginning and keep it in your room. This is to avoid extra fees with cards and ATMs and to be more aware of how much you spend.


* 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

The program staff highly encouraged speaking in Spanish. The culture of the program that was set by the students during my semester was to speak primarily English outside of class, but individuals could choose to speak more 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
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* 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?
  • Unique educational experience
  • Location
  • Planned trips to Arica and Temuco
* What could be improved?
  • In-class Spanish education/feedback
  • More group reflections
  • Better packing list- it’s cold in the beginning of the fall semester!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? September and October are like fall in the Northeast region of the US in terms of temperature. Relationships matter more than becoming bilingual; love lasts longer than language. Being homesick for a long time might happen, even if you think you won’t miss home, and that’s okay.

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.'