Siempre Chilena: The Best Semester of My Life

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My study abroad experience was the most incredible semester of my life. My journey certainly had its emotional ups and downs, but with help of my amazing friends, host family and IES Abroad staff at the Santiago center, I was able to navigate any troubles that came my way and truly enjoy every opportunity and experience I was given. My courses had a decent amount of homework but far less than my courses in the US. To be fair though, this study abroad semester was a bit of a break for me; I only took courses that helped towards my Spanish minor and my pre-health concentration (versus focusing on my biology major). I gained confidence in my Spanish speaking and learned how to connect with anyone, anywhere. The IES Abroad program helped structure my academic learning and allowed me to take a course at a local university, an amazing experience that I will forever be proud of completing. There is so much I could talk about ranging from the amazing empanadas, cooking disasters with my host family, hiking up snowy mountains, and getting to meet family I have (through marriage) in Chile. This first world country is relatively safe, spare for a few skilled pickpocketers in Santiago and other major cities. The varied climates and environments, ranging from the northern desert of Atacama to the southernmost glaciers of Patagonia, allow students to explore a wide variety of local cultures and charm. Every amazing experience was only possible through IES Abroad, and I would go back and relive the entire experience, moments good and bad, twenty times over.

What would you improve about this program?
This program could improve by providing to the students as pre-departure information the cell phone numbers of all the students in the program. The arrival portion of my experience was probably the worst part of my study abroad experience. My plane was delayed overnight and I arrived in Santiago late when no IES staff was able to pick me up at the airport. I was very scared and would have wanted the opportunity to travel with the two other people who happened to be on my same flight. But I did not have their mobile phone contact information, severely limiting my ability to reach out and ask for assistance. Ergo, having cell phone numbers of the students would at least have helped me contact others who were in the same location I was.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
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