Program has room to grow, but great experiences & friendships Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 02/23/2016 to 06/06/2016 with

SIT Study Abroad: Chile - Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Firstly, my spanish skills improved a lot. Second, I think it was really great to be able to spend so long in one country (I had considered other programs that included more travel); I feel like I got to know Chile very well.

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 academic part of this program is currently undergoing many changes. However, during my time in the program, the academics were not very organized. There was rarely discussion in class and students did not receive the necessary information/support to perform well on our assignments.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program coordinators, especially the Student Affairs Coordinator and the Homestay Coordinator were very supportive and helpful. The Academic Coordinator was new to the program and did very well considering the level of disorganization of the program when he arrived. He was clearly very enthusiastic about the subjects, which helped keep the students interested even when the lectures and readings were unhelpful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay was wonderful and my homestay family was very caring, supportive, and welcoming. The homestay aspect of the program was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

* Food:

All members of my host family worked very long hours, so we ate take out food for most lunches and very small dinners of bread with cheese for dinner (dinner is typically smaller, so this is not specific to my host family). That being said, all home-made food was wonderful and this aspect of the homestay was mostly specific to my family.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The homestay was the only way in which we were actively integrated with the local culture. Because classes are only held with other students in the program, with lecturers chosen by the program, it is very easy to only spend time with other US students. However, I know some students put a lot of effort into making friends in the city. Also, depending on the homestay, it is easier to integrate into the local culture if one has host siblings of a similar age.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not experience any health-related problems during the program. However, I knew a few people from my program who had to visit the clinic during their time in Chile; the Student Affairs Director or the Homestay Coordinator were very helpful for them and went with the student to the clinic to help translate/deal with any confusion.

* Safety:

Arica, the home base of this program, is generally a very safe and quiet city. However, there is a lot of cat-calling when walking on the street; the cat-calling is, unfortunately, practically unavoidable, though it was helpful to talk to other students about our experiences and process how we felt about it together.

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

I would choose the same program, because I think the experiences facilitated by this program (visits to rural communities; time spent with practitioners of indigenous medicine etc.) were unique. That being said, I cannot recommend this program to others without mentioning the academic side of the program; it needs a lot of work and was often a source of frustration for myself and other students.


* 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)

While in Arica, almost everything is provided for you and money was not an issue. In addition, Arica is a very affordable city. The only monetary issue that was a large problem for some students is that students are expected to pay for their own transportation during the ISP period (i.e. if you would like to study in Santiago for the month, you have to pay the plane ticket to get to Santiago directly-- this cost is not part of your program tuition)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $35 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Transportation is very inexpensive, but Arica is very walkable, so it is possible to spend little of the funds allocated for transportation if you choose to walk.


* 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 spanish language classes were the weakest part of the academic program. However, my spanish improved greatly from spending time with my host family, especially during the ISP period. Most of the time, students spoke to each other in english, though we discussed this with the Program Director and he plans to have more specific guidelines about when we should be speaking english.

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
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? It is very important to set yourself up for success at the beginning of the program. Everyone will want to speak in english to get to know one another and that is important, but try to speak in spanish as much as possible, especially during breaks in classes and other academic spaces.

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?
  • Homestay
  • Excursions
  • Getting to know an "off the beaten track" part of Chile (Arica is out of the way)
* What could be improved?
  • Academic programs
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more details about the ISP project-- this takes place during the last month and is a self-designed independent study project "in the field." This project requires a lot of personal initiative and outreach that was not communicated during the beginning of the program when we discussed the ISP. The ISP was one of the most valuable parts of the program and was when my spanish really improved, but I wish I had asked more questions about students responsibilities and the program's expectations for our project.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.