Last weekend I skyped my parents (and grandparents!) for the first time since arriving in Chile. We’ve been chatting via Snapchat and WhatsApp, but of course there’s no substitute for a face-to-face interaction! I’m notoriously bad with communication, so it was really nice to be able to debrief and talk about the last month and a half at length, telling them about what I’ve been up to while feeling bad for not skyping them sooner. Reflecting on this experience, I thought I’d also post a blog entry that has similar content so that you can see what I’ve been up to. Anyone considering studying abroad in Santiago can also hopefully get an idea of the flexibility IFSA gives you to really make your study abroad experience unique.
I ended up enrolling in both la Católica and la Universidad de Chile, and am taking one class at each: Literatura Española II and Introducción a la evaluación psicológica, respectively. I’m also taking two classes with IFSA: one on the history and culture of Chile and another on Spanish grammar. Once I have a few more class sessions at la Universidad de Chile under my belt I’m hoping to post on the differences between the two universities, but for now it’s worth noting that due to the numerous paros, or student strikes, at la Universidad de Chile the starting date of the second semester of classes was pushed back. Classes for everyone at la Católica started at the end of July; classes for psychology students at la Universidad de Chile started two weeks ago. The law school at la Universidad de Chile isn’t starting classes until the end of September! I’ll go into further detail about the paros in a later post, but essentially some majors strike more often and/or for longer periods of time than others, so each major has a different academic calendar at la Universidad de Chile. Strikes at la Católica aren’t unheard of, but occur much less frequently and don’t last as long as those at la Universidad de Chile.
Besides going to class and doing homework, I’ve gone skiing in the Andes, gone up Cerro San Cristobal and Cerro Santa Lucia, hiked to a waterfall, met people from all over the world also studying in Chile, gone to a birthday party that didn’t end until 4AM (an “early night” according to those in attendance), enjoyed a food truck festival, talked about Grey’s Anatomy in Spanish with a med student, gone to a soccer game, and visited the tallest building in South America, among other things. At this point, I’d encourage anyone looking into studying abroad in Santiago with IFSA Butler to go for it; I already feel like I’ve started to develop a life here in Chile thanks to the support system I’ve been provided, while still having the ability to have my own adventures. Essentially everyone else on the program wanted to go a less traditional route for study abroad, electing to avoid Spain and Argentina, and we’ve all found that Santiago (and Chile) have a lot to offer.
While I’ve already been in Chile for a month and a half, there’s still so much to explore. Tomorrow (September 3rd) IFSA is taking us to Pomaire, a town just outside of Santiago known for its pottery industry, where we’ll get to learn about the culture and make our own empanadas! I’ve also started planning, with a few other people on my program, to take a trip to Easter Island, which is actually a part of Chilean and a 5-hour flight from Santiago. For now, though, I have almost 200 pages of reading and a test to study for, so the fun will have to wait…but not for long!