IES Abroad Santiago – Politics, Social Justice & Language

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Designed for students interested in Politics, Social Justice, and Language, this study abroad program in Santiago takes a closer look at the intricacies of the Chilean sociopolitical landscape: student activities, the arts as a form of resistance, human rights issues, and an impressive literary culture.

Your courses will be taught at the IES Abroad Center by distinguished professors from IES Abroad’s partner universities. They are taught in Spanish, and you are encouraged to practice your language skills your day to day life while you’re abroad. During your semester in Santiago, you can also enroll in an internship or service learning placement. Your classes and activities combined will help you understand the city’s politics, social issues, and language first-hand.


IES Abroad Scholarships and Financial Aid

As far as we're concerned, financial limitations shouldn't prevent you from studying abroad with us. That's why we offer more than $5 million in scholarships and aid.

$500 - $5,000

Questions & Answers


9.75 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
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  • Academics 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 8.8
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester to Remember!

Studying abroad in Santiago, Chile was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I feel extremely privileged and humbled to have been able to travel and live in another country for a full semester. I lived with an incredible host family that gave me cultural lessons every night during "Once" and reminded me of those universal family values that unite each and every one of us as human beings. I was able to explore the beautiful array of geographical wonders that Chile has to offer as well. I went sandboarding in the Atacama Desert, hiking in Patagonia, and surfing in Pichilemu. Those these sights were truly breathtaking, the thing I enjoyed most were the small moments with the various people I met in Chile. I met an amazing friend who worked in the IES building where I had my classes. Though I was still working on my Spanish, she was patient and so welcoming. We talked about our families, our pets, and our hopes and dreams. I also met my host-family's extended family who took me in like I was one of their own. We sat around all Saturday afternoon playing cards as I listened to old family memories and moments they had all shared together. Though I was in a country far from home, there was not much of a difference between the conversations at my dinner table in New Jersey and theirs that day in Val Paraíso. If anyone has the opportunity to study abroad in Santiago, I would 100% recommend it. I was challenged in the best way possible in daring to make relationships with different people from all walks of life and it made me realize how communication can really open up a whole new world.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to just be open to all the new places and people you encounter. No one's experience is going to be exactly the same and that's what's so beautiful about living and just plain being in another country. Don't compare your experience to someone else's because every moment, good or bad, is so valuable. Take pictures of all the beautiful things but don't forget to be present with the people around you. Lastly, relax as best you can and take it all in. It's a beautiful place filled with a lot of beautiful people!
2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Program as Great as its City

The location of Santiago is just incredible. It's a cosmopolitan city between mountains with so much to see and do- whether you want to hike or go to a museum, eat Peruvian, Thai, or traditional Chilean food, spend a day in the park or be a real Santiaguino and venture to the markets- everything is accessible through public transportation. Just an hour and a half from the Pacific coast where you can relax on the beach or explore the grungy and colorful Valparaíso, it feels as though whatever you could want is within reach. I loved Santiago as a city and Chile as a country. As long as the U.S. is wide, the varying landscapes were unlike anything I had ever seen. From glaciers to deserts, Chile has it all.

The IES program that I participated in gave me the opportunity to not just experience this beautiful place, but make the most out of my time there in each and every sphere of my life. I had the time and encouragement to travel and get to know not just the city, but the region. I was challenged in my academic courses, from understanding the political and social role of the arts in Latin America to the radical traditions that define the nation today. I went into my study abroad experience knowing next to nothing about Chile and Latin America, and leaving with a true connection to the region that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Besides the hard skills that I developed through my critical courses and hands-on internship experience, I also developed a higher social awareness, deepened my sense of empathy, and left with a level of confidence I didn't know I could have.

This program is great for people who are adventurous and curious, who want to learn and be challenged, and have a less traditional study abroad experience. I chose this program because I didn't want to go to Europe and I wanted to learn Spanish. I know a lot of people go to Europe because it's easy to travel around, but I was lucky to travel around a lot- around Chile, in Peru, and to Argentina twice- for comparable if not less expense. The things I saw were unlike any Roman cathedral or Grecian cave, but they put me in awe at the world we live in. Hiking through Valley de la Luna in the driest desert in the world made me feel like I was hiking through an episode of Planet Earth and the cities of Buenos Aires and Lima are equally as astonishing as Santiago. I can't stress enough how much I recommend this program and how badly I wish I was still a part of it every day.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Sea urchin right out of the water on the little island of Chiloé at a little seafood stand off the side of the highway. It tasted exactly how you think, but even saltier.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Mix of everything

Santiago has a mix of metropolitan and suburban life: you get the metro/bus and walk around the streets a lot, but you also get the quiet residential life. There are strong cultural roots (in their food, national dance, a lot of patriotism), yet also has a very western/European feel to it. In some ways it doesn't feel like the stereotypical South America. Locals are respectful and helpful, and in public places almost no English is spoken (so practicing Spanish is unavoidable!).

IES offers strong staff members that were my support system when things were going downhill; they were encouraging and have had so much experience with students that they always have a viable solution at hand. They're ready for any problem you may have, whether with housing, emotional adjustment, or academic.

Lots of traveling opportunities and beautiful landscapes! Take full advantage of travelling that is so unique to Chile.

Everyone in the program did a home stay. No home stay is 100% perfect, but it makes your experience so much more integrated and you feel like you're really part of a family. IES does a wonderful job coordinating with the host families and making sure you're comfortable with your placement.

What would you improve about this program?
I was looking for more academic rigor in the classes. Some of them were really easy, mainly gave busy work and I feel like I didn't learn much. Taking thought-provoking classes while living in that culture abroad is one of the most rewarding things one can do. A wonderful alternative is taking several courses at a local university, which are a lot harder and more work, yet you can meet locals and experience the university life abroad (something you don't get if you stick with other Americans in IES classes).
2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Santiago... the place you have been looking for

If you really want to practice your Spanish, come to know a Spanish speaking culture that many don’t hear much about but is so rich in history and fabulous people, then I would recommend this program to you. Santiago de Chile is a fabulous place to be whether you are an outdoorsy kind of person or more of the city life, Santiago has it all. IES does a fabulous job of thinking through everything and are prepared for the good the back and the ugly. Being a part of their program, the onsite administration and teachers make you feel like you are their number one priority. They genuinely care about every person and want to make sure they have the greatest experience abroad. They will help you with anything and everything; if you are struggling with your host home, trying to find a class to take at the local university, maybe you want some travel suggestions (literally one woman on staff helped everyone call hostels/buses/you name it if we needed help). They go above and beyond and love welcoming you into their home. For me, I have danced ballet professionally in the states and wanted to make sure I could find a good company while I was abroad to keep up my dancing. One of the staff introduced me to a company and I actually had the opportunity to perform on a well known stage for a paying audience in CHILE! (That was a dream come true).
Looking at the academics, the courses are wonderful and they offer a nice variety. It was slightly hard to find specific courses for some people at the university, though this may have been due to the strikes at one of their partner universities making it unavailable for us to take classes there. I was able to take a ballroom class filled with 50+ Chileans and 3 “gringas” including myself (to Chileans anyone not from Chile can be considered a gringo/a). This was a great way for me to get to know many friends, I would highly recommend trying to find a dance class even if you don’t go to Chile because there is something about learning basic dance moves that is fun and breaks barriers allowing friendships to flourish. I got the opportunity to also be in an observations program which was honestly one of the main reasons I chose this entire program in the first place. It is just that, observations. This is very helpful for really any pre-health professional because you really get to dive into seeing how other health care systems work and actually see different facilities in another country. I will let you know, this is strictly observations, you are not allowed to take vitals or anything. But most health professional schools want you to have some type of observation hours so it is a win win.
I got the chance to study with fabulous people. I loved that IES was a program that pulled students from all over. I got the chance to go out on a limb, go to a country that I had never been to, with no one I knew, and had the time of my life. We had 19 people in our program and I loved the opportunity of getting to know every single one of them. There were a few from the same schools but otherwise we all were in the same boat and that to me was an experience I was looking for.
One last plug, specifically for the Fall semester in Chile. Though it is our (the US) “Fall” it is their Spring. EVERYTHING happens in Chile at this time, you get a “spring break”, there are Fondas which are basically Chile’s State Fair, and a few other holidays. The weather though cold in the beginning is lovely towards the middle and end. If all of this doesn’t convince you... then consider all of the amazing locations you can travel to while you are in Chile (Easter Island, Patagonia, San Pedro de Atacama to name a few). Or just take a look at the attached photos!

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly... I feel like the only thing I would change would be what types of courses I would be permitted to take abroad, but that is something related to the home universities. I felt as though IES Abroad offered everything they could have on their end of the abroad spectrum.
2 people found this review helpful.