Chile: Santiago - Spanish Language, Culture, International Studies

Video and Photos

sand dunes chile, students
sand dunes chile, students
students, camping, chile
students, camping, chile
beach, desert, friends
beach, desert, friends
Hiking in Cajón del Maipo, a valley outside the city of Santiago, Chile in the Andes Mountains.
Taking a quick tip on a long hike in the Andes.
Rock climbing on the coast of Chile in the city of Concón, near the major port city of Valparaíso.
Study in Santiago, Chile with USAC
Study in Santiago, Chile with USAC
Study in Santiago, Chile with USAC
Study in Santiago, Chile with USAC

About

USAC invites students to come study abroad in Santiago, Chile at the Universidad Andrés Bello! Santiago is an exciting destination, right in the center of a nearly endless coastline with a mountainous backdrop. Students will be able to explore the country to the north and south of the capital city, daring to head to the tip of the southernmost country in the world.

Programs are available for the summer (Sessions 1, 2, or 1 +2), semester (fall or spring), and academic year. Students can take from 12-18 credits in a variety of fields including Spanish language at all levels. Other courses include Spanish language and literature electives, and Latin American studies taught in both English and Spanish. Professional internship placements are also available for those wishing to gain some valuable international work experience.

Highlights
  • Join cultural excursions to the houses of Pablo Neruda in Santiago, Valparaíso, and Isla Negra
  • Visit the attractive Pre-Columbian Arts Museum, Museum of the Memory, and Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center
  • Experience Santiago’s diverse cultural blend of Native, Spanish, and international residents
  • Take advantage of great opportunities for skiing, surfing, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding
  • Enjoy the benefits of a large urban city that has preserved the hospitality and accessibility of a small community

New Program: Comparative Studies: Uruguay and Cuba Summer Session

Study abroad Summer 2020 for eight weeks, beginning in Montevideo, Uruguay and continuing to La Habana, Cuba, for a comparative Latin studies program ideal for any student and of particular interest to health, gender and Spanish language students.

Scholarships

USAC Scholarships
USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

Value
$500 - $1,000

Questions & Answers

The language immersion is great, especially in the host family households and if you spend time interacting with people other than other students in the program.

Reviews

95%
based on 22 reviews
  • Academics 8.3
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 15 of 22
Default avatar
Emily
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

USAC Santiago, Chile 2018

I would highly recommend studying abroad through USAC and if you are interested in Latin American politics, business or geography Chile is the place for you! Chile has so much to offer, you can visit the Pacific coast, the driest desert in the world, the Andes or Patagonia and the Chilean Antarctic. Spending time in Santiago, I was able to learn about Chile's history and also learn about the Latin American region as a whole. I loved being their during the Fall semester, because I was able to participate in the Fiestas Patrias which are the independence celebrations in September. During my time there, I was also able to intern at a local nonprofit with USAC's help and support in arranging it. One of my other favorite parts of my experience was living with a host family and being able to make connections with a local family.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do your research and don't waste time! There is a lot to see and do in Santiago and there are many cool places close by like the Atacama desert or even going into another country like taking a trip to Argentina.
Default avatar
Bridget
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I Peaked

I chose Chile because I wanted to discover and ultimately fall in love with a country I knew nothing about prior to my choosing to live and study there. The USAC Santiago program had all of the program aspects I was looking for: the ability to have all my classes in Spanish, the accessibility to traveling advice (and friends to travel with), and the option to live with a host family. I loved my professors (especially Señor Julián Gutiérrez); they made Spanish fun and surprisingly easier to learn. I loved my program director and advisors; they were so easy to talk to and always were down to talk and have fun. The friends I made are all super unique and amazing in their own ways (both local university students and the students sharing my foreign exchange experience in Santiago). But my host family was the best aspect of it all; they taught me to cook, corrected my Spanish, and accepted me as their own. That was definitely the best part of the entire thing - knowing that, even in a foreign country with zero familiarity, there is a family for you that accepts you and that you could always turn to.
As for some advice: definitely opt for a host family for the ultimate integration experience. Apartments are cool, and you definitely have some more freedom, but when it comes to living in your typical Santiago barrio with a cool family that cooks and cleans for you as well as gives you unlimited advice and guidance, you really can't go wrong. Practice your Spanish as much as you can, even if you're embarrassed! People will always appreciate your effort and you will definitely learn more than you ever thought possible. Finally, don't be afraid to travel! Chile is the most amazing place and country ever, and South America is an entirely different world (geographically, at least). Take advantage of your time in a big city, but also don't forget that the Andes and Torres del Paine are waiting for you!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Definitely for me I challenged myself immensely by backpacking and hiking at the Torres del Paine national park in the Patagonia region of Chile. I was super nervous (yet excited) before the trip, FULLY aware of my hiking abilities (I almost had none) and my willingness to be patient with sleeping, cooking, and eating outside for five days. During that trip, I became closer to my fellow program gringas, I did the hardest climb of my life, and I learned new things about myself, such as I hate sleeping in a sleeping bag and I love ramen noodles and mashed potatoes. Most importantly, though, I have a memory from my time in Chile that I will never forget, and that is accomplishing my first backpacking experience (and definitely the first of many).
Default avatar
Alexa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Why USAC: Santiago, Chile is Your Best Bet

I studied in Santiago de Chile with USAC in spring 2019. My experience was incredible for a number of reasons.

First, the staff members were amazing; they had a connection with all of the students and went above and beyond to help us out with things like weekend travel, navigating the culture of Chile, and even job interviews and recommendations.

Second, the classes were great. I took a full-time course load all in Spanish as a Spanish language learner and I felt that I was challenged while still having the ability to enjoy my time abroad without stressing too much about my grades; I would definitely say that the courses were focused more on the learning process and content than on tests and assessments.

Finally, Chile is just an amazing place and USAC is an amazing program. I lived with a Chilean woman with whom I still keep in contact, and I am so grateful for that relationship that I wouldn't have gotten in other programs that don't have homestay options. I felt safe and comfortable while in Santiago, while still pushing the boundaries of my understanding of the world. It was an experience I will never forget and yeah, I love telling people I went to Chile because that's way cooler than the normal study abroad countries.

Here's what I think you should know if you're considering going to Santiago:
-the food can be bland and even when it's spiced, it's still never spicy... so bring your favorite hot sauce
-accept that public transportation is your best friend
-it literally has something for everybody: a recent military dictatorship for the politics and history buffs, incredible landscapes for those who love spending time in nature, lots of religious culture for those who like that, street food because nobody dislikes street food, etc.
-if you carry a purse, make sure it zips! pick-pockets are so talented
-a homestay is 100% a must, every student in the program who didn't do a homestay expressed regret at some point
-keep an open mind! Santiago was really similar to my home in some ways and worlds apart in others, but the most important thing for me was to keep an open mind and to love it as it was
-take a billion pictures, call your mom, and have tons of fun!!!

What was your funniest moment?
My funniest moment was when I sent my friend home to her apartment from a bar in an uber... and I accidentally chose the university address instead of her apartment address. Since she didn't have phone service at the time I felt horrible, but luckily the uber driver was really nice and when I changed the address and they realized what happened, he took her home. I could laugh about it because Santiago is a very safe city and I had no problems with uber drivers at all while I was there.
Default avatar
Araceli
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Experience

Studying abroad in Santiago, Chile really was a life-changing and eye-opening experience for me as well as many of my peers from the program. Studying in Santiago did more than expose us to a new culture. It changed us all for the better! During our time away from home, we all grew and become close to each other. We made new friends that over time become like family. We discovered sides of ourselves that we never knew and at times we also exposed ourselves to new adventures out of our comfort zone, that even in our wildest dreams seemed impossible.

Chile is not just a beautiful country because of its unique sceneries. Chile is a beautiful country because Chileans make it beautiful. All the people from the program welcomed us with a warmth that allowed us to feel comfortable in a country that was thousands of miles away from home. Leaving Chile at the end of the semester felt like the day I had left the states. It felt like I was leaving home.

Default avatar
Jessica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Time of My Life

During the (awfully short) four months I spent in Santiago, I met people who became some of my best friends, learned a lot from my professors and the international students I met, and probably had the best time of my life. I don’t know what it was, but the culture USAC and the students created was very homey and everyone got along even if we wouldn’t have hung out normally.

Everyone was super friendly, welcoming, and always up to create new friends and explore new places in the city. The advisors were more like friends, and they made the students feel welcomed right away with their jokes. I never got homesick and I always felt like I was growing as a person. I grew a lot while being abroad and if I have any regrets, it’s that I didn’t study abroad for a year.

What would you improve about this program?
The courses offered were a little limited. Also, the website looks super unofficial and if USAC wasn’t working directly with my university, I wouldn’t have trusted it, so update your website.
Default avatar
Cori
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I miss you, Santiago, Chile

Through this program Santiago, Chile, I truly felt like I was home. The most scared I ever was about the trip was getting on the plane to first head over there. The idea of being away from home for a length of time that I never had spent before, to go to a country which spoke a language I barely managed, all while still going to school and trying to pass with decent grades seemed like an insurmountable challenge that I feared I lacked the capability to complete.
But then I landed. As soon as I got off of the plane with the group of 40-something other students, probably feeling the same way as I did, there was a smiling face who worked with USAC. Immediately I felt like I was in the company those who would not let me get too overwhelmed, and would do all they could to make sure I came out of the other side of the semester.
The city is marvelous, and the Santiaguinos are such a wonderful people. There was never a shortage of things to do on weekends, from hiking trails through the mountains, or taking an hour bus ride to the beach, or play a soccer match in a park with friends... But for me, the main reason I fell in love with Santiago and loved doing it through USAC was the Santiago USAC staff and my Chilean family I lived with who worked with them. They were guides who first showed me so many of the great things there were to do, they were support when I couldn't reach my bank or use my money so they let me use their phones to contact the States or made sure I had food and money for transportation, they let me cry on their shoulder when I felt overwhelmed and they would motivate me to see inner-strength I didn't even know I had. And if I cried to them, they would call me the next day to make sure I am getting by. The USAC staff in Santiago and my Chilean family made me feel welcome in Santiago, and thinking back I consider them family.
I left feeling not 100% of a United States citizen, but some percentage of Chilean too, which was my goal all along: to broaden my horizons and experience a great challenge. I can't say enough good about the city and the program, and as I finish writing this and reflecting over my time there my heart aches, missing those wonderful people, missing seeing mountains out of my window, missing taking the metro all over a city that has such a rich culture, missing my Santiaguino life. I will go back. 100%.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One week we had a little bit extra time of for the weekend than usual, and some friends and I decided to just head down to Patagonia to do some camping, check out some glaciers, and hike some intense trails. No big deal, just one of the most beautiful places in the world which is the most south you can be without being in Antarctica. Yeah, sounds like a fun weekend!
Read my full story
Default avatar
Seth
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Hidden Pocket of Culture and Adventure

Santiago, Chile is an incredible location to study abroad. Full of history, beautiful architecture, and with its own unique culture, Santiago is perfect for immersing oneself in South America. As far as activities, there is next to nothing that Santiago--and especially Chile--cannot offer. Within the city, there are a plethora of museums, gorgeous parks, wonderful restaurants, scenic views, and other sources of entertainment. Outside the city, beautiful hikes, ocean views, and even skiing are but a weekend trip away.

Unfortunately, for most Americans, Chile is one of the more obscure countries that many people aren't familiar with, but this offers an exhilarating opportunity to broaden one's cultural horizons and global awareness. Personally, because of this, I felt Chile to be completely and intimately mine. It wasn't the typical study abroad trip to Italy or France where multitudes of students flock every summer to be more tourist than student, it was an opportunity to become engaged as an international scholar in.

If you're looking for an opportunity to travel to a beautiful country with views that rival any and all others around the world, choose Chile. If you're looking for a country that will allow you to deeply immerse yourself in the real life of the culture and not be just another tourist, choose Chile. I was challenged academically, I was absolutely challenged culturally, and met some incredibly wonderful people along the way--because I chose Chile.

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps work harder to really given US students a chance to integrate with Chilean students. Especially for those who haven't yet become sufficient in Spanish, it is very easy for them to fall by the wayside and feel like an outsider. Small, weekly, group events perhaps that way US students can continue to see familiar faces and their relationships can grow as their Spanish skill level does also.
Robert
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Semester of Progress

Santiago, Chile is a wonderful place to study abroad especially with the USAC program. This was a very exciting and entertaining program from the culture to the lifestyle to the program directors and professors. At first it was hard for me because I did not know the language as well as I probably should have, but I progressed and learned a lot thanks to the directors, advisers and professors, they helped me to learn words and phrases and made it easy and fun for me to learn and not be discouraged. I would recommend for future students to learn basic words and phrases to get around and have small conversations so you don't always have to rely on others for knowledge. Learn quickly and talk to your peers and supervisors in Spanish and make a strong effort to learn the language and be willing to mess up, even if you don't want to look dumb, it is necessary to learn and talk because practice makes perfect. This helped me to progress and my host family was wonderful, I could talk to them and they helped me through my struggles in the language. I recommend making a budget and each time you spend money put it in to a chart and label them with food, trips, transportation..etc just so you know what is spent and so you can be on budget, this was important to my time as I was able to do everything I wanted to do and still stay within a budget. My favorite memory was traveling to the South of Chile with the program group and bonding more with the USAC family and having fun all together as a group. Overall it was a wonderful program and I progressed in my language, knowledge and personal goals, I highly recommend this program.

What would you improve about this program?
Help the students by placing students closer to each other or have a certain amount of students within a certain radius. This will help people to hang out more and not worry about always taking public transportation to go places or to meet with people.
Default avatar
Erica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Chile all day

Going to Chile was the best decision I've made as far as my education goes! First of all, there are so many options as far as where you can travel. You can go to the north to the Atacama desert (which is the driest, most arid place on earth and great for stargazing), Patagonia (which is basically where they take all computer background photos because it is so stunning), you can see many active volcanoes (even hike them if you want!), ski, hike, go to the beach, take wine tours, the list goes on and on. The greatest part about studying abroad in Chile is that you really feel like you get to know the country as a whole. You still have the option to travel to places like Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, etc. but you really could spend a year in Chile and not feel like you've seen everything yet. Santiago is beautiful, there are lots of places to hike, coffee shops to visit, and parks to enjoy. The houses of Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral center, and museums dedicated to the memorial of those lost during the dictatorship are all absolutely worth the trip! I would definitely consider the Santiago, Chile program if you want to go to Latin America!

Valerie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Year in Santiago

I had a wonderful experience with USAC in Santiago. The staff are super fun and willing to help at any moment, usually just a text or visit to their office away. Santiago has activities for everyone. I spent a lot of my time going to see live music and attending the many free festivals that are put on throughout the year. My favorite part about living in Santiago was how easy it is to take an inexpensive bus to any part of Chile at any moment, allowing you to experience the diversity of natural beauty the country has to offer, whether its the Atacama desert, glaciers in Patagonia, the Pacific, or the Andes right outside of the city. Another great part about Santiago is the metro system, which allows you to visit all of the different neighborhoods with ease, which all have very different vibes. Overall, my time in Santiago with USAC will be marked by both personal and academic growth, the extensive travel I was able to do throughout the country, and all of the incredibly kind Chileans and international friends that I made during my time there.

Default avatar
Tessa
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

USAC Santiago Review

I had a great experience! This program convinced me that I want to pursue a career in which I can use my Spanish language skills. I think future participants should know to plan ahead as well as be flexible when plans change. I would also advise participants to try new things and enjoy being outside of their comfort zone. I would recommend spending as much time in nature as possible, the natural beauty in Chile is phenomenal and beyond comparison!

What would you improve about this program?
The staff could offer more support and respond more quickly to student issues/complaints.
Default avatar
Gabriel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Jorge and the USAC team are awesome

The USAC team is very helpful and offers a ton of fun trips out side of the curriculum. Santiago can be dreary in the months may-august and in general is not a touristy city. this program is for people that are willing to reach out and get to know people around them in your community, if you're outgoing and can facilitate your own adventures both in an outside of Chile this program is for you. The best alpine skiing in the Southern Hemisphere is an hour outside of Santiago, the Atacama desert is unlike anywhere you will ever go on the planet and Patagonia is Patagonia. Nightlife very fun in Santiago, their bar districts are massive and karaoke is massively popular. People are shy but friendly if you make the effort to meet them. Overall, having a good time is not something that occurs just by being in Santiago, you have to immerse yourself and go out and seek it. USAC does the best they can to help you do this.

What would you improve about this program?
Just add more interactions with chilenos built into the program.
Default avatar
Natalie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cuando dejé mi corazón en Santiago de Chile

I had the incredible blessing of living with the sweetest host family on the planet, who adopted me as their own and made me to forget what missing home felt like. I set out on this study abroad semester with the goal of improving my Spanish language skills as a part of my Spanish major; I came home from this semester with a wealth of wisdom that I could never have anticipated. I loved to travel before this semester, but now I know the beauty of living in a place that was not your own, as a resident and not a tourist. I came home with a head full of knowledge about the culture and history and politics of Chile, with a heart full of awe at the beauty of diverse peoples and geographies, with a spirit full of new understanding about Who created me and what else He made when He spun Creation. I could never have fully anticipated the depths to which I would be moved and the angles in which I would be pulled during my five months in Chile. Yet sometimes I fall asleep with the simple, happy image of a still lake that is home to a small town called Frutillar, whose only landmark is a dock on the lake -- I have so many little sweet snapshots of memories stored in my mind that remind me of beauty all around the world, near and far.
My perspective has been greatly widened since my time abroad, and it seems that the ripples of that experience have yet to stop unfurling and teaching me new things about how to look at this life. Not to mention the fact that I can converse with a chileno now, which was an impossible goal when I first landed in Santiago, being that "Chilean Spanish" seems to be an entirely separate language upon first contact (and even after months of immersion, if we're honest, sometimes).
I wouldn't trade my time in Santiago for anything in the world. And USAC was a wonderful facilitator of this experience; I highly recommend the program offered in Santiago.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be nice if there were more flexibility in the language Tracks, as I had to retake a course that didn't count for me as a part of the Track that best suited my credit needs.
Default avatar
Kevin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

4 Months, But a Lifetime of Adventures

If there is any doubt in your mind about studying abroad in South America, I'd like to start off this review by telling you, GO DO IT!!! South America was an amazing place to study abroad, and Chile is perfect as a home base. Each weekend, I traveled to the mountains or the ocean or the deserts or the huge metropolitan hub of Santiago and experienced a new/vibrant/wildly different cultural immersion in the many communities and landscapes Chile has to offer. Although I did thoroughly enjoy studying with USAC, most of my cultural immersion experiences were of my own volition. USAC is an amazing stepping stone into the Chilean culture, but they also won't hold your hand (which I appreciated). USAC was, for me, the perfect balance of provided opportunities and freedom. I had amazing peers around me who were ready to travel at the drop of a hat, a program supervisor (shout-out to Jorge, Brenda, and Isabel!!) who was eager to act as a cultural liaison, and a homestay I was excited to get back to after a long trip.

If I can offer any advice for a student getting ready to go on this trip, it is to say "yes" as much as you possibly can. Say yes to a 12-hour overnight bus ride to a small surf town, say yes to going out with locals you may meet, say yes to taking part in as much "ordinary" life as you can while you are there. Explore markets with the same curiosity as museums, make friends with the Chileans you meet in hostels, and maybe deprive yourself of a little sleep if there is an asado (Chilean bbq) the night before you have a test.
Studying abroad is about so much more than what you experience in the classroom, and although USAC will give you incredible teachers for that portion of your experience, it's up to you to take the extra step in stepping out of the extranjero bubble.

Default avatar
Jenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Most Beautiful Country I Have Ever Seen

I spent four months living in Santiago with USAC in the spring semester, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Santiago is a marvelous, huge city that at times seemed a little overwhelming, but always offered a new experience and so many opportunities to learn.

I would recommend USAC Santiago to anyone who wants the best of both worlds. You have the opportunity to live in a city of 6 million, but be only a half hour from the most gorgeous nature and mountains you could ever see. You don't have to choose between mountains and the beach because you can get to either within two hours! Chile offers so many incredible travel opportunities. From the Lake District, the breathtaking scenery of Patagonia, and the out-of-this-world Atacama Desert, it truly does have something for everyone.

Academia wise, the program is based on Spanish language tracks, so you have the opportunity to earn four semesters of college Spanish classes in just one semester. I thought the classes were challenging enough that I felt like I was learning, but were not so demanding that I could not immerse myself in my host family/local culture. The campus is very urban (i.e. no central campus area), but there were many parks and places to hang out and eat nearby.

Overall, the four months I spent in Chile were probably the best of my life and I will always remember my experience here thanks to the incredible people I met and the exciting city I called my home.

What would you improve about this program?
Many host families were located like a 30-60 minute commute on the bus/metro system, but that is kind of expected when living in a huge city. It is nice that USAC Santiago ensures that the host families live in the nice neighborhoods, even though it is a longer commute.

Paying for public transit every day got really expensive; it would have been nice to be able to have the student discount even as an international student!