An impactful, integrated experience living with a host family in Chile June 27, 2023

By (Global Health and Healthcare Management, Washington University in St. Louis) - abroad from 02/21/2023 to 06/05/2023 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was more than worthwhile. This is an experience I will remember forever. I learned how to love people I differ from in many ways. I discovered where my passions lie in my career path. And, I found a home in a whole new country.

Review Photos

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

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 focus on only important aspects of your educational experience -- no busy work. You get what you put into it.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The directors were organized, extremely supportive, and wanted to make sure you were living up every moment.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living arrangements were the very best part of this program, hands down. Living with home stays allows the student to become entirely immersed in this beautiful culture and feel the love and support of these families. Additionally, this felt like the most effective way of learning Spanish.

* Food:

The food in Chile is fine, but the reason I give it four stars instead of three is because the program does a really good job of both accommodating your needs as well as exposing you to traditional foods and meal events.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt extremely integrated into the local culture, whether it was making friends in town/on the beach, living with the family or spending time with the indigenous groups. This program supports you to prioritize appreciating the culture over anything else in your time in Chile. Additionally, living in a small town like Arica makes this integration a bit easier, since faces become familiar a lot faster.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The program was extremely attentive to your mental and physical health. When there were problems, they were extremely supportive and tried to make the process as easy as possible, and were by your side the entire time. I only had a cold a few times in my time there and my family made sure to take care of me. Any times I was feeling upset the team always made sure to check in on me. At large, the avian flu was an issue with the animals in Arica during my time there, but the team made sure to keep us updated on any possible risks and all relevant information.

* Safety:

Arica is not the safest of cities, but with the given precautions, I never felt unsafe. The program makes sure to educate you on these precautions and makes sure all students live closely.

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

I couldn't think of a better city and population to live with and love while studying a topic that is extremely important to me.


* 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)

This trip (outside of the tuition) felt extremely affordable -- there is barely any eating out except for cheap food trucks. Most money was spent on elective activities and nightlife, but felt very manageable. The lifestyle could be entirely adapted to not have these costs.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Max $40
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you would like to participate in nightlife, arriving on the early side allows you to avoid paying covers. For the beach activities, get to know all the vendors, and you can often set up deals to spend less on the equipment.


* 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

There was definitely encouragement but not requirement. When there were people around who only spoke Spanish we were told we had to speak it, but overall, the rules were very relaxed, and it was again, you get what you put in.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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? 3200
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? It is important to have a conversation with your cohort or some close friends when you enter the program to make your goals and desires explicit. My group faced difficulty with the very relaxed rules of Spanish because it was never clear what we should speak, and when you are tired its easier to default to English, but these are the most important times to practice Spanish. My last month in Chile I told everyone I would only speak Spanish and for the most part people respected it. In that month, my Spanish improved more than it did in the rest of the months combined. Additionally, the more time you spend with locals and your family, the better your Spanish will get.

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
  • Culture of Arica
  • Integrated learning experiences
* What could be improved?
  • More strict rules on language
  • Greater transition into Spanish with classes
  • Longer duration
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? There are going to be different levels of Spanish when you enter, and you cannot let that make you hold back on your own development. Own your learning experience. You will only improve your Spanish as much as you ask questions, look up words, and commit to your goals.

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.'