Por la Razón o la Fuerza: An Immersion of a Lifetime July 05, 2023

By (Chemistry, Spanish, University of Richmond) - abroad from 02/21/2023 to 06/04/2023 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
¡Sípo! Reflecting on my time studying abroad in Arica, I can confidently say that it was worth every moment and effort. This experience has broadened my horizons, enhanced my academic and professional skills, and shaped me into a more globally aware and culturally sensitive individual. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to study abroad in Arica, Chile. The memories I made, the knowledge I gained, and the personal growth I experienced will forever remain with me. For any student considering a study abroad program in public health, I wholeheartedly recommend this SIT program in Arica as a destination that will provide a transformative and profoundly rewarding experience.

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 workload in this program was totally reasonable given that it was integrated into a study abroad program. However, the highlight of the experience was how travel was weaved into the educational aspect, where immersion through homestays, visits to clinics and other facilities actually enhanced the ability to truly grasp what is learned through lectures.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The SIT team in Arica were phenomenal in their support for all the students, and were very welcoming toward students of all background. They solicited feedback frequently, which I liked.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The coordinator for homestays was fantastic! She definitely dedicated a significant amount of time in pairing students with families considering how well she has developed rapport with the families and how she is able to determine what type of student would fit that environment well.

* Food:

Chilean food has its uniqueness, but at the same time, my palette was not the most ideally built for it. Getting exposure to traditional food is an important aspect of study abroad, however, so I was glad to experience the change.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Having the homestay be integral to the values of the program makes social integration much easier. The focus of the program was rooted in an approach that helped me engage with the local community while understanding the cultural nuances of Chilean society. During our travels, we had many different activities that forced us to lead interviews and discussions in another language, a huge pillar in helping me learn about the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any health issues, but from what I heard from peers, they were treated for all ailments in a way comparable to that in the US.

* Safety:

Though caution is advised at all parts of the city, the homestays are for the most part in the safer part of the city. I, as a male student, did not fear going on runs in the middle of the night. With proper knowledge of neighborhoods that are safe and not safe, safety will not be an issue.

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


* 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)

Two meals a day were provided as part of the tuition, as well as a stipend that was given by program administrators during excursions. As a result, I was able to minimize any spending from my own pocket. The program does a good job in not requiring you to spend your own money. My last month was spent in the capital, Santiago, where it was obviously more expensive to eat at restaurants. However, for the purposes of the program, Arica is not an expensive city at all.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $30 (transportation, food)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Most of the money I spent was discretionary spending, which were important to me to feel immersed. However, even the amount spent for these nonessential activities can be avoided by finding local experiences that are free, such as community events (which the program administrators would frequently update us about).


* 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

Spanish was not enforced but I along with a few of my peers tried our best to converse in the language amongst each other. When I was in Santiago for my last month, I feel that I learned the most because I was away from the majority of my classmates from the program and did an internship in a local organization.

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 300 courses
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? I'd say building habits that force yourself to speak the language will go a long way in practicing the language. For instance, immerse yourself in the Chilean culture by watching movies and TV shows with your host family, and listening to Chilean music. I would also say depending on your classmates, try your best to be firm in using Spanish only, because at times it might feel exhausting, but your brain is a very neat little machine that can adapt to even the most extreme situations such as this. Train your brain to the point that it starts to become natural.

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • The excursions
  • Warm welcome from the locals
  • Very helpful staff
* What could be improved?
  • More interactive academics
  • Integration with local students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That it is okay to have moments in your abroad experience that feel slow! Once you get into a routine after being in your new environment, things will start to feel a bit bland with classes. However, once you start to get a feeling that things are getting a bit monotonous, it's essential to remember that every experience abroad has its ups and downs. These slower moments can provide an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Embrace them as a chance to explore deeper connections with the local culture and community. Step outside your comfort zone, seek out new experiences, and challenge yourself to break free from the routine.

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.