I had an incredible experience abroad through SIT Chile: Comparative Education and Social Change. The staff and all our professors were knowledgeable, caring, and enthusiastic about the program and helping us learn and grow. I found that most of our academic and personal learning happened outside the classroom—SIT’s emphasis on field experience was one of the main reasons I chose to go abroad through their program. Through the vast range of school visits, tours of museums and human rights sites, and political and social marches and demonstrations, I was able to immerse myself in the culture, history, and current events of the country and learn in a way that would have been impossible to do in a university classroom in the U.S.
One of the most important parts of my abroad experience was living with a homestay family. I had the most amazing family who truly made me feel welcome, loved, and cared for during my entire time there. It was also the best way for me to practice and improve my Spanish in a low-pressure environment where I constantly felt supported and encouraged. I really felt like a part of my family, and we still have a group text where we write and send each other pictures regularly!
Some of the most unique and valuable parts of the SIT program were our group excursions to Valparaiso, Temuco, and Buenos Aires. Not only were we able to compare education systems and key social movements first-hand among the different regions, but we also got to connect with incredibly thoughtful, brave, and dedicated students, teachers, and activists. Our homestay experiences in Temuco and Buenos Aires allowed us to have closely personal relationships and intimate insights into the unique cultures and current challenges facing different communities we had learned about in a classroom context. I feel extremely grateful that I was able to travel to these different places and learn from so many amazing people—opportunities I probably would never have had outside of this program.
The ISP period at the end of our program was one of the most intense, challenging, and valuable academic, social, and personal experiences I have ever had. I had to make huge leaps in my confidence in my Spanish language skills and social capabilities in order to conduct effective research that I felt was truly beneficial to the communities I was so generously welcomed into. Ultimately, I built strong connections with members of the educational community in Santiago, and felt a sense of pride for what I had accomplished through my ISP. This project is something I hope to continue on in the future, and hopefully I have the chance to return to Chile and re-connect with some of the amazing educators, students, and administrators I worked with!
Overall, this program facilitated an amazing study abroad experience for me. Chile is a beautiful country with so much to explore, and I met so many wonderful people who shaped my experience and influenced the person I am today. I had to acknowledge that I was just scraping the tip of the iceberg with how much I had to learn (and still have left to learn) about the country’s past and present, but this program helped me learn and grow in countless ways and I am very grateful for that!