I haven't left yet and I'm already planning ways to come back to Santiago... Past Review

By (Hispanic and Latin American Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, General., Fordham University) - abroad from 01/16/2013 to 07/13/2013 with

Syracuse University: Santiago - Syracuse University in Santiago

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
That I say I would choose this program all over again is a big deal, because it wasn't my first choice. Up until November, I was going to Spain! However, due to problems with the Spain program, I had to be moved to the one in Chile...and I am SO glad that I did! This experience was definitely worthwhile - cheesy as it sounds, I learned that the best experiences can not be planned. Of course you should have some goals when you go abroad, but more importantly you should have an open mind. You can not imagine all the great possibilities that a semester abroad will present you with. All you have at the beginning are expectations. But once you let go of your ideas of how it's supposed to be, and start having an open, flexible attitude, you will be having the time of your life before you know it. Let go of your pre-judgements and try everything - you never know what you will end up loving!

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff are wonderful! Mauricio and Paula treat students in the program like family, and will go out of their way to help you make your abroad experience what you want it to be.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Coming in such a small group actually makes it easier to integrate into the local culture. The group of students in the Syracuse program becomes close, so if one person makes friend, everyone ends up getting introduced, and then your circle expands to include not just Syracuse students, but local students who become true friends

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

There is a good system for exchange students worked out with the host university, U Católica. You can go there if you have a problem, and they already have a system for you to use your US insurance.

* Safety:

Theft was the biggest concern - it wasn't uncommon to hear of a student getting robbed on public transportation or walking around the city. But you quickly learn to be extra aware and careful with your belongings when in public. Also, living in host houses with no roomate, while a great immersion experience, can be a safety concern especially for girls. We would all share taxis or take the same buses at night, but eventually everyone has to separate to get to their individual houses - you each end up walking alone for a little bit which could be a little sketchy.

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)

Obviously, it's hard to live on a student budget when you are abroad because you want to experience everything, and everything comes with a price. But, with a little bit of planning, you can have a good experience and not exceed your budget in Santiago. Living with a host family saves you a lot of money, because you are provided with 3 meals a day. What ends up being expensive is transportation - using public transportation every day adds up! Still, prices weren't horrible - similar to the US, and definitely not as bad as NYC!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50-60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If your host family program provides three meals a day, ask your family if you can pack lunches when you are out for the day - you save a lot of money by not spending at restaurants. Learn to take public transportation, don't rely on taxis. And when you do use taxis, make sure you know how to arrive to your destination ahead of time. The drivers will know your a foreigner and will try to take you on long routes so they can overcharge you! Check airline websites for deals, and be flexible about your travel days. LAN has new offers almost every day. By taking advantage of these offers, you can get really cheap flights. Going out to eat or get drinks is fun, and you don't have to avoid this fun way of seeing your host city because of your budget. Meet up with friends to split a dessert or appetizers instead of getting a full meal - it's a way to treat yourself and hang out without spending too much.


* 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

Each student has their own host family - so when you are in the house, you are exclusively speaking Spanish. Also, classes are taken at Chilean universities in Spanish, so again you have to use the language to talk to professors, understand your classes, and make friends.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? 4000
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? Spend time with your host family...instead of going straight to your room after class to skype or check your facebook, make some time to have a cup of tea with your host mom, go out with your host sister when she invites you to meet her friends, etc - you'll have fun and get much better at Spanish without even noticing. Get involved at school. It's hard to make friends in classes, because most of the students already know eachother. But if you join a club or sport, everyone is really friendly! You start hanging out with them outside of school, and naturally you will be speaking to them in Spanish.

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
  • International Students
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?
  • Close-knit syracuse group
  • making friends at the local university
  • that it was a two-part program - experiencing both Ecuador & Chile was amazing
* What could be improved?
  • The Ecuador portion was a little disorganized, staff not that helpful
  • Getting back to separate houses late at night is a little dangerous, not all houses are walking distance from eachother
  • Can't think of another complaint!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? What I wish I knew is something that I was told repeatedly, but didn't really believe. At every predeparture meeting, in every info booklet, in every last minute email, we were told that the abroad experience would have ups and downs. That after the initial "honey-moon" period, it would be normal to have a "down-slope" where you are really frustrated and want nothing more than to go home. But then, you adjust! As much as I was reassured of this before I left for Chile, when I got hit with that homesickness midsemester, I really thought I would never feel better. But sure enough, in a few weeks I was loving my life in Santiago! My advice for future students is just to know that it's normal to feel down, but it doesn't mean that your experience as a whole is bad. What it really is is that your initial expectations might not be met; the experience isn't exactly as you dreamed it before you left Fordham. But, once you open your mind and let go of your expectations, you realize that your abroad experience can be the amazing time you hoped for - different than what you imagined, but still wonderful!

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.'