Middlebury School in Chile

Video and Photos

About

The Middlebury School in Chile offers cultural and linguistic immersion through a rigorous curriculum and adherence to the Middlebury Language Pledge. By pledging to speak only the target language while abroad, students will have the best chance of acquiring fluency and actively engaging in the local environment. Participants take their courses directly in a local university, and all students are encouraged to get involved in the community through internships or interactions within the clubs and activities available.

Study alongside Chilean students at a host university in Concepción, Santiago, Temuco, Valdivia, Valparaíso, or Vina del Mar in a wide range of academic disciplines. The School in Chile also offers several distinct tracks of study: Food Studies in Santiago or Valdivia, Human Rights and Memory in Santiago, Applied Studies in Health in Viña del Mar, or Sustainability and Society in Valdivia or Temuco.

Highlights
  • All course work is conducted entirely in Spanish
  • Students adhere to the Middlebury College Language Pledge
  • Direct enrollment in local universities alongside Chilean students
  • Courses in most liberal arts disciplines
  • Housing with Chilean families

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9 Rating
based on 2 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 8.5
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 8.5
Showing 1 - 2 of 2
Default avatar
Mike
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

UACH and Way of Life as an Exchange Student in Valdivia

After having spent a semester studying in the bustling Chilean capital of Santiago, I was eager to experience a different part of the country for my second semester abroad. I ended up choosing to study at the Universidad Austral de Chile (UACH), located in the small southern city of Valdivia. I spent my time taking humanities courses at the university's Isla Teja campus, one of two campuses in the city. I was challenged academically by my professors and felt welcomed by peers. We were mutually curious to get to know each other and learn about our respective backgrounds.

If you're not a fan of the rain, Valdivia might not be the place for you. This is important to address in the beginning, because it rains a ton here. Rainy months are from about April to September, with the hardest and most constant rainfall typically taking place from May-July. Definitely show up to Valdivia with a quality rain jacket!

However, the rain may only prevent you from having a worthwhile experience if you let it. Because of the consistent rain, the city is surrounded by lush forests and nature reserves. Rivers run right through the middle of the city and out to the Pacific Ocean, which can be inexpensively accessed by bus in less than 40 minutes. Fans of the outdoors would love the abundance of greenery, coastline and hiking trails in surrounding parts of the area. The UACH, which has a strong emphasis in programs in the natural sciences, has its own arboretum and botanical garden located right on the Isla Teja campus. When the weather permitted, I spent meaningful time taking walks in between classes and enjoying the trees and scenery. It really is a beautiful place to study.

In my experience, the people of Valdivia tended to be welcoming, friendly, and loved to spend time conversing and sharing stories. Because of the rainfall, people have grown accustomed to spending long stretches of time talking. There is a downtown area with restaurants, shops, a few clubs, and a beautiful fish open market with sea lions that jump right up onto the sidewalk. There is a stretch of bars on the Isla Teja, within minutes walking from the university, that are frequented by students and locals alike with excellent brews of local craft beer.

Valdivia is a wonderful place to live and study if one is interested in a more relaxed pace of living. The culture, because of the size of and weather in Valdivia, is more open and easygoing than that of Santiago. The university is one of the best in Chile, though the students tend to be quite politically and socially active and are notorious for striking and therefore halting university courses. My department's students occupied our building for four weeks. In situations like these, however, Middlebury's Chilean program directors organize private classes for students enrolled in the program.

I highly recommend Valdivia for students who are interested in getting to know the south of Chile! It's a truly unique part of South America!

What would you improve about this program?
As I mentioned before, students should be aware of the turbulent political nature of students at the UACH. Strikes are common, and can sometimes last weeks or up to months. The Chilean program directors have measures in place for when situations like these occur, but they still can affect a student's learning/living experience.

I also should mention that Valdivia tends to be a city with lighter-skinned people, and friends of mine of color have experienced racist comments in various forms. Though Haitian migrants are increasingly populating the city, they are sometimes met with discrimination by some local people. This, of course, is not an issue unique to Valdivia - it happens all over Chile and all over the world. However, I do feel that it is important for potential students to be aware of these tensions that may come up while studying in this program.
Did you find this review helpful?
Default avatar
Mike
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Human Rights Track: Universidad Alberto Hurtado & Middlebury College

I spent from July - December of 2017 participating in the Human Rights Track, a collaborative program between Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad and the Universidad Alberto Hurtado in Santiago. The track, designed to offer students the opportunity to gain a holistic and multidimensional understanding of the history of human rights in Chile, includes two Chilean university courses, one Middlebury College Spanish writing and grammar course, an independent research project, and an internship.

The beauty of this program is in the flexibility that it gives to students to craft their academic and cultural experience. I chose to approach learning about human rights through the focus of music and social movements and was able to use Santiago as my classroom, traveling to different parts of the city to conduct interviews with musicologists and historians for my research project. I got to work directly with children in some of Santiago’s most marginalized communities through my internship, which I was paired with by Middlebury's Chilean program directors.

I am very satisfied with the balance the program struck by giving me the independence to tailor my own learning experience while also providing the structure and resources to keep me in the right direction. The Chilean program team inspired unwavering confidence in me as they made themselves available in every way to support me throughout my semester. Whether for academic, personal, or logistical reasons, I knew that I could always count on them to be responsive and empathetic.

Santiago, like any huge city, is what you make of it. Though parts of the city may seem gray and commercial, I adapted to the bustle of the big metropolis and appreciated wholeheartedly all of the culture and growing diversity. Not only was I surrounded by tons of live music events, festivals, theaters and cultural centers, and different restaurants, I was a short bus ride from breath-taking nature reserves, state parks, and other culturally-rich cities like Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. The airport is 40-minute drive from downtown Santiago, making other parts of the country accessible by plane.

I mentioned the city's growing diversity above. Santiago, over the past couple of decades, has been experiencing a significant influx in immigration from countries like Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Haiti. Much of my internship work followed organizations that are helping integrate native-born Chileans with their migrant neighbors and building healthy and inclusive communities. While many Chileans are eager to welcome this growing diversity, there are also many who choose to meet migrants with discrimination. This is an evolving phenomenon in Chile, and is especially visible in Santiago.

For those students looking to improve their Spanish, this is an incredibly worthwhile program. Like all Middlebury College abroad programs, one must abide by a language pledge and commit them self to only speaking Spanish for the entirety of the semester. Though challenging at points, I found the pledge to be extremely effective. I began my semester fairly confident in my Spanish-speaking abilities, but felt like the language flowed naturally after five months of being immersed in the program.

Chileans’ form of speaking is quite unique as it is very quick and full of phrases that are only used in Chile, but with a positive and easygoing attitude one can adapt to this mode of speaking and make many friends with Chileans in the process (many people I met loved to teach me new phrases and were very patient).

I invite those undergraduate students excited by the idea of having a fully immersive cultural and academic experience in a vibrant and bustling city to consider this program. Overall, I had a extremely enriching and enjoyable semester and remain grateful for the support by the Chilean program directors.

What would you improve about this program?
While I cannot relate to this personally as I had a non-traditional living situation compared to the program's host-family system, some of my peers had difficult experiences with their respective host families. However, the Chilean program directors were quick to listen to the issues that students were having and act quickly to accommodate their needs.
Did you find this review helpful?