SIT Chile: Public Health & Traditional Medicine

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Gain unique insight and exposure to healthcare policies, politics, and delivery methods as well as traditional medicinal practices in Chilean communities.

Central to the program is an analysis of health reform intended primarily to improve health conditions of disadvantaged groups, particularly those in Chile, while also improving healthcare access for the population at large.

Students carefully examine intercultural health and alternative healthcare practices in the context of Chile as well as southern Peru. Students consider different conceptions of wellness and healing, including beliefs and health practices of the Aymara and Mapuche indigenous groups. The program gives students the opportunity to experience Chile's health system firsthand with guided, insightful visits to public and private health centers.

Questions & Answers


based on 6 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 8.8
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 8.5
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
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An Experience in Chilean Traditional Medicine

I enjoyed the variety of experiences I had doing this program. We took several trips so we got to see a good portion of the country. The host families were all nice and wanted to help their students and have them be involved with family activities. It was difficult to adjust to all of the sudden changes at first, but the staff were all helpful at in country orientation. The academics weren't very rigorous, most likely because you are encouraged to do a lot of investigating on your own time and experiencing the culture beyond books. I would have liked a more detailed methods course that gave more practical examples, but the traditional medicine and public health courses were interesting, with a fair number of guest speakers. I loved the ISP (independent study project) period, as it allowed for the most freedom and you can investigate a specific topic that really interests you.

How can this program be improved?
Improving the rigorousness of the academics
Yes, I recommend this program
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I had an amazing time studying abroad with this SIT program and it in many ways surpassed my expectations! The format of the the SIT programs provides for a unique learning experience in which the classes are integrated in your everyday life there with the homestays and with the excursions. It was nice that the difficulty of the courses was lower than was I was used to at school but they were also very engaging as what we learned in lecture was enhanced through the weekly visits to health clinics and with conversations with our host families and other locals.

The excursions are also a great component of the program. Not only did they help give us a comprehensive view of the public health system in Chile through studies of the main indigenous populations, but they also allowed us to explore different regions of the country. Along with a few other short trips that I managed to fit in on my own time, by the end I felt like I really had seen Chile.

The ISP was probably my favorite part of the trip! Although I was a bit worried about the whole process, it was an amazing learning experience and confirmed my passion to pursue a career in public health. For the ISP period, I lived in Valparaíso with another friend from the trip. It was a great opportunity to live independently and really immerse ourselves in the culture and explore a unique city. At the same time, I was able to gain hands-on experience with ethnographic research through my ISP project. I plan to continue my research during my senior year.

Overall, these few months were unforgettable! I loved the interactiveness of the public health and traditional medicine curriculum and the opportunity to conduct independent research. Above all, it was great exploring the beautiful country among such a friendly and lively population.

Yes, I recommend this program
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SIT Chile Public Health

My semester abroad was an incredible experience. What I loved about SIT was the format of the program. It's split into three parts. The first month, you spend with your host family in Arica taking classes and adapting to being abroad (Spanish, new place, Chile in general). The second month, you travel with the group to two different indigenous villages and Santiago. This is the time when the group really gets the closest and you get to experience and see more of the country. The third month, my favorite, is the ISP period. You get to choose wherever you want to be in Chile, and whatever you want to do, with regards to Public Health, and have a month to carry out a research project. As a whole, the format allows you to get different aspects of an abroad experience, and change to a new aspect of life when you start to feel a bit antsy.

The Arica team is so supportive and feels like family. Arica is a small beach town that is the perfect place to begin the Chilean experience because people are extremely friendly and you have the beach right there!

SIT also attracts a really great group of people interested in having an all around study abroad experience. People all have really cool passions and want to experience all parts of Chile.

How can this program be improved?
I would say just the structure of classes. I would love to see more readings by Chilean authors in Spanish class or more lectures that are structured when we travel.
Yes, I recommend this program
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A great experience!

My semester in Chile was a really unique time that I now look back on and still am able to laugh at and be in awe of. The program is organized in a way that allows you to see travel around Chile and really get a sense of the country as a whole. I stayed with 4 Chilean families over the course of the semester and was able to learn so much about Chilean culture (and by comparison my own culture) from sharing in their daily lives. My favorite part of the program was the ISP period, which I spent in Santiago volunteering full-time at a non-profit organization. The program director was very flexible with allowing me to conduct an ISP on a topic of particular interest to me, although it was not directly related to the themes of the program. I had an amazing time exploring a beautiful country with a group of fun and inspiring students who I still keep in touch with. My Spanish improved immensely over the course of the semester and I quickly became accustomed to approaching strangers for directions, help or simply making conversation. This is the perfect program for anyone who is interested in studying anthropology or indigenous rights, particularly around the topic of traditional medicine. The program is structured very well and I think that a selling point of the program is that you are exposed to the current controversies surrounding public health related to traditional medicine in a variety of contexts (urban/rural, North/South, etc.)

Yes, I recommend this program
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Definitely do it!

Living in Arica, Chile has been one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. Studying the public health system, the injustices and cosmovisions of the indigenous populations, meeting people from all walks of life, ad being able to converse with them in Spanish has inspired me in every aspect of my life.

Academically, I feel so much more educated about public health issues, history, and how policies directly affect the lives of individuals. The constant emersion into Chilean Spanish (which is distinct from classroom spanish) has made me fluent, more comfortable, and able to express myself in ways I never could before.

Socially, I fell in love with my host family and learned so much about Chilean food, culture, and history.

Here are some positives and negatives that I encountered during my time in Arica:


-The director of the program is SUPER knowledgable and you will really learn a lot from her. The program would not be the same without her.

-This program is CHALLENGING but in the most rewarding ways. At first, it is really difficult to communicate with people in Spanish. But after a few weeks, you really notice a change in your verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Plus, most people I met were very patient with language barriers.

-TRAVEL is an awesome part of this program. 3 trips are built in to various parts of Chile and one in Peru. It really gives you a sense of the culture and history more. It also allows you to talk to many people such as individuals that identify with the Mapuche and Aymara populations that you otherwise may never have met.

-ISP (Independent Study Project). This was probably my favorite part of the program. You have freedom to study what interests you and travel in your free time. It's amazing!



-The classes are all American students which is good because you get to go your own pace with learning Spanish... but it's also frustrating because it doesn't really integrate you into the University.

-Punctuality rarely exists in informal settings, but it's a different lifestyle and it's fun to adjust to it.

- You have to be open-minded to have a blast on this program, but that can be said for anything you ever do in life. Go with the flow!

How can this program be improved?
Refer to negatives/challenges
Yes, I recommend this program
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Viva Chile

I loved this program because it gave such a holistic view of life in Chile and, specifically, healthcare delivery. On a weekly basis we would visit health clinics of all sizes and specialties. Daily, we attended classes at the local university including Spanish Language, Public Health, and Research methods. Each day we had a break to go home to eat lunch with our host families, which was WONDERFUL. I spent nights and weekends with my host family and loved getting to know them and their friends. Every 3 or so weeks we took excursions to different parts of the region: the Altiplano in the Parinacota province, Temuco in Southern Chile and Bariloche, Argentina, and to Tacna in Peru. For the ISP period, I went to Santiago for research on the availability of services for people with intellectual disabilities. The program staff was fantastic and incredibly supportive, especially during the ISP period when we were essentially independent.

Yes, I recommend this program

About SIT Study Abroad

SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT offers more than 70 programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as comparative programs in...