Tufts-in-Chile: An Informal Education Past Review

By (International Relations and Affairs., Tufts University) - abroad from 07/14/2011 to 07/30/2012 with

Tufts Programs Abroad: Tufts in Chile

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
That is really hard to sum up in a few short lines. It was incredibly worth while and I learned A LOT. I guess in concrete terms my Spanish improved a lot, especially during the second semester. I got really good at planning trips and coping with foreign experiences. Overall it was a great experience, not because I had fun and enjoyed myself every minute of every day but because it is challenging to integrate yourself into a new culture but also rewarding and there is a lot you can take away from such an experience.

Review Photos

Tufts Programs Abroad: Tufts in Chile- University of Chile   Tufts University  Santiago, Chile Photo Tufts Programs Abroad: Tufts in Chile- University of Chile   Tufts University  Santiago, Chile Photo Tufts Programs Abroad: Tufts in Chile- University of Chile   Tufts University  Santiago, Chile Photo Tufts Programs Abroad: Tufts in Chile- University of Chile   Tufts University  Santiago, Chile Photo Tufts Programs Abroad: Tufts in Chile- University of Chile   Tufts University  Santiago, Chile Photo

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

it is very hard to condense my educational experience into a short review. The student protests that began in 2011 and are still going on today were arguably at their height during my first semester in Chile making our educational experience less than typcial. That being said I found that there was a wide range of classes in terms of quality and rigor. Some classes were clearly geared towards exchange students looking for that "easy A" but seeing as I was there for a full academic year, I tried to pick classes of the same caliber as Tufts classes. I was highly impressed with the quality of the Political Science department at La Católica and found myself very challenged.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

For the most part the program director and assistant were pretty helpful but when it came to academics I did feel on my own at times. They tried to help but honestly I found myself trying to sort things out on my own a lot. For almost all other issues they were quite helpful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I personally had a great housing experience but I had several friends who had to move. Tufts-in-Chile is a homestay program which I think has its pros and its cons. Overall they do there best to place you with a family that is a good match for you. The main issue for me was that I was not used to living in a family setting after two years of college and definitely not balancing family time with school work and a social life. My host family was fine with me being more independent but with a different family I'm not sure I would have liked the experience very much, I just got lucky and got along with my family very well.

* Food:

Food in Chile in general is pretty bland, pretty heavy and pretty repetitive. My family was great about having a lot of options and we had a nana who cooked but food was still probably the biggest adjustment for me. I really missed being able to cook for myself and make my own choices.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

By the end I felt pretty integrated into the culture but it took a long time to get there. There are a lot of exchange students and ex-pats in Santiago so it can be easy to get caught up in those communities or to be stereotyped as the fun-loving exchange student that nobody takes seriously. Building friendships can be hard too but after a while I felt more comfortable with my social life there. It is definitely one of the biggest challenges.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any health issues but the Tufts-in-Chile administration was always really helpful when other students had problems.

* Safety:

Santiago is incredibly safe. The areas where exchange students tend to live are probably more safe than the area around the Tufts Medford/Somerville campus. Just the same you don't want to make a target of yourself. It helps to look the part but even in you are 5'9 and blond you can still be smart and you'll likely never have and 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)

The biggest money suck is transportation. If you don't have a student "pase escolar" for the metro/bus system you can easily spend $20-25 a week just getting around. The cards are typically only available to full year students, so if you know (or think) you are going to stay for a year, start the process of getting a student metro card as soon as possible. Other than that, if you plan to eat out its pretty comparable to what we are used to in American cities, same goes for alcohol. You can budget stipend money but it will go quickly if you go out a lot.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Nothing unless it was related to traveling or some sort of special event.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Second semester I put about $20 of my stipend away every week for traveling at the end of the semester.


* 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

We were encouraged to speak Spanish all the time but if you were having trouble understanding or explaining something important it was okay to ask in english sometimes.

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? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 35 which is a survey of Latin American Literature
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? Don't spend too much time with other exchange students.

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
  • 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?
  • Orientation
  • Spanish improvement
  • Personal relationships
* What could be improved?
  • Communication (in Santiago and with Tufts)
  • Academic Advising
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It will be a lot of fun bonding with the rest of the Tufts group but very hard to integrate yourself if you always hang out with them. It doesn't matter if you don't know anybody going in, you share a lot of common ground especially compared to everyone else around you, so you will probably spend a lot of time with these people despite your expectations.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Estado y Estatalidad en la política comparada

Course Department: Instituto de Ciencias Politicas - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Instructor: Juan Pablo Luna
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: The class was very challenging. It was a small seminar that met for three hours once a week. There was, on average, 100-150 pages of reading per week and you were held accountable for the reading. Although about 50% of the readings were in English, class was always conducted in Spanish. There were three pop quizzes throughout the semester, one short reaction paper on specific readings, a book report, a final 15 page research paper and every student was responsible for leading class discussion with a partner at least once. I found that I did not participate in discussion as much as at home but I definitely benefited from listening to my classmates and professor and trying to keep up. I liked this class especially because there was no special treatment because I was an exchange student, my professor and TA held me to the same standards as my Chilean classmates. It was one of the few places where I felt fully integrated into society. All that being said this is not a class to take if you intend to travel every other weekend and/or go out on weeknights regularly.
Credit Transfer Issues: I did not have any issues getting transfer credit because I am a Tufts student and it is a Tufts program. The Tufts International Relations department also accepted it as a social science credit for the Latin America regional concentration.