SIT Chile: Public Health & Traditional Medicine

Video and Photos

view of Arica from the marro (hill)
view of Arica from the marro (hill)
My host family for the Chilean independence holiday "dieciocho"
My host family for the Chilean independence holiday "dieciocho"
From our travels to Putre
From our travels to Putre
Study with SIT in Chile
Study with SIT in Chile

About

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

Reviews

8.22 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • Academics 6.4
  • Support 8.8
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 8.8
  • Safety 8.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 9
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Maya
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unique time in Chile

My experience was unique because there were political protests for over a month during my time in Chile. However, I found most staff members to be supportive of our wellbeing and receptive to any issues that came up. The trips to Temuco and Putre were very fun, as we were able to visit local health facilities, learn about traditional medicine practices, and have fun outings to hot springs and natural areas nearby. The homestay was a great experience as well, and I feel like I improved my Spanish the most by talking to my host parents at meal times and around the house. The academics were interesting, but not quite as hard as a traditional college semester in my experience. I had a good experience with my final project at the end of the semester as well, with a great advisor.

What would you improve about this program?
I would improve some of the academic resources and sites. I studied during a time of transition, when the readings and assignments were sometimes hard to keep track of and not all in one place.
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Anna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Focus on Experiential Learning

The most valuable aspect of my three months in Chile was the plethora of opportunities, both spontaneous and built into the program, to engage with the community surrounding us and learn eperientially. Through this program, I was able to attend innumerable community events and get to know the heart of the city and its people as part of our curriculum. I found this focus on experiential learning to be incredibly informative and it rounded out what we were learning in the classroom. This community focused learning model was capped off by an internship with a major global nonprofit that allowed for experiential learning every day for a month.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Completos - a hotdog in a thick bun topped with avocado and chopped tomatoes and absolutely smothered in mayo.
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Katie
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

A great experience but no thanks to the program

I certainly enjoyed my time in Chile and am grateful that I had to opportunity to go, but the program left a lot to be desired. My main complaint is that that the academics were very poor. The academic director changed a year ago so any reviews from before then don't accurately represent the current program. While the academics weren't hard, we were usually stuck in class until dark so we didn't have any time for anything else. Most days we passively listened to lectures all day with no opportunity to discuss, analyze, or synthesize what we were being told. Especially because everything was in Spanish, it would have been very helpful for comprehension to discuss the material. We voiced this to our academic director several times but nothing changed. I honestly don't think he has any idea what a discussion-based class looks like, let alone how to lead one. The "intensive medical Spanish" course usually consisted of playing games or walking around town, which was fun but didn't teach me any Spanish, especially medical Spanish. I honestly had more rigorous Spanish classes in high school. Finally, it was also hard to become part of the community, get any exercise, or explore the city because we were in class from about 9:00-1:00 and 3:00-7:00 every day and the schedules were always changing last minute. I had to go out of my way to make friends with some Chileans, and this proved to be the most rewarding/fun part of my whole experience. Again, I really did enjoy my time in Chile, but feel like SIT did not deliver the program that it promised and would encourage you to sign up for a different SIT trip.

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Sarah
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Improving the rigorousness of the academics
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Allison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable!

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.

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Ava
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
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Kelsey
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.)

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Donna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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:

HIGHLIGHTS:

-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!

-ARICA IS BEAUTIFUL!

CHALLENGES/NEGATIVES:

-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!

What would you improve about this program?
Refer to negatives/challenges