Thursday, October 4, 2012

Valparaíso, Chile

Valparaíso, Chile
Rachel Wolf '12

What is your major?
 International Affairs and Hispanic Studies
Why did you decide to study abroad? 
 I have always been fascinated by Latin America, and there is no better way to become fluent than live abroad. 

Why did you choose Valparaíso, Chile? 
 I wanted a language-intensive program where I wouldn't be with all LC students and professors, just in another country. I wanted to be independent and have the freedom to take any classes I wanted. Valparaíso is also much smaller than Santiago, and on the ocean - two deciding factors for me.

What was your living situation like? 
 I lived with the most amazing host family in a house in Valparaíso.

Mil Tambores Festival, Playa Ancha
Highlights/challenges of the program. 
 Sometimes it felt like I would never understand Chileans, but after a few months it all just clicked. I had complete freedom to travel as I chose, and the travel we did with the CIEE program was great as well. All of the CIEE classes were fascinating, and the staff were incredibly helpful with everything from living to traveling to food to classes to finding volunteer opportunities. The semester was so much more than I could ever have hoped, largely because of the incredible support given by the CIEE staff and the freedom and independence we were given during our study abroad. Joining the university swim team was an incredible experience as well.

Advice you wish you had been given before going on your program. 
 I was told that Chile is somewhat dangerous, and I agree to an extent. I am glad we were told to bring bags that zip closed and have a flap or a strap so you don't get robbed, because that was definitely an issue. Practically, for girls it is a good idea to bring a hair dryer and as many feminine products as you need for the semester. They aren't that easy to find, and are pretty expensive. I wish I had been told that peanut butter is not a thing in Chile, nor are chocolate chips. I would have brought a huge jar of peanut butter and a huge bag of chocolate chips.

Additional comments? 
San Alfonso del Mar, Algorrobo, Chile The largest pool in the world
 It is hard to make Chilean friends in class because all of them have been in the same courses together for years, and the exchange students are mostly ignored. Although it is hard, it is essential to put yourself out there and walk up to people and make friends. Chileans are friendly and interested in Americans, but you have to make the first move.
Travel as much as you possibly can. Chile is an incredible country with every possible climate, so take advantage of it while you are there. 

If you have questions for Rachel, you can find her on the Ask An Alum Moodle page by clicking this link. 

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