Before traveling to Santiago, Chile I was quite nervous about living in a foreign country for 5 months, but from the moment I stepped into my host family’s apartment, I knew it was going to be a great experience. The classes I took, the places I travelled, and the Chilean culture all made a truly unforgettable experience, but the people I met along the way helped Chile steal my heart. My host family, the IES staff, Chilean students at the university, and especially my fellow IES students helped me to learn, to grow, and most importantly, enjoy every moment of my time abroad.
The staff at IES made it clear from day one that they wanted our experience in Chile to be as fun, productive, and safe as possible. During the first week, they taught us everything we needed to know about Chilean culture, how to navigate the seemingly enormous city, and how to decode the very fast paced Chilean Spanish. The academic coordinator met with each student and helped us select the best classes for us, and the student coordinator had an answer for literally every question or problem we may have had. The staff and professors were always very supportive and helped guide us through every aspect of our journey abroad. I enjoyed all four of the classes I took abroad, my favorite being the Health Studies Clinical Observation program. In this program, we not only studied how the Chilean healthcare system works, but we also got to observe in a different healthcare setting each week!
My host mom could not have been more excited to welcome me, and all my friends, into her home. My host family very kindly included me in all their family activities: birthday parties, cookouts, holiday traditions, etc., and that truly made my experience one of a kind. I got to experience Chilean culture through a fun, loving, and hilarious family that made way too much delicious food. I knew I had formed meaningful relationships with all the members of my host family when they were all very sad to see me leave and my host grandmother begged me to come back to Chile soon. I keep in contact with my host aunts and cousins through Facebook, and my host mom and I still message each other quite frequently.
Santiago, Chile is a wonderful city with endless activities of all types. Within the city there are museums of all types, beautiful parks, cute cafes on every corner, lots of shopping, bars and dance clubs, etc. The Andes mountains lie just outside the city and the parks in the foothills of the Andes provide easy access opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, etc. An hour bus ride west of Santiago gets you to beautiful coastal towns like Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. Chile is unique in that it offers literally every type of landscape and I highly recommend trying to see as many as possible. From desert, to beaches, to the frozen icebergs of southern Patagonia, and all the way out to Easter Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Chile has everything you could wish for. Some of my fondest memories abroad are traveling and exploring with other IES students!
If you still have a doubt about studying abroad in Chile after reading these reviews, know that you should go – immerse yourself in the Chilean culture, travel to all the different regions, and meet some truly incredible people. ¡Viva Chile!