Kelley Wormmeester - 2015 Program Participant

Hiking in the Chilean Patagonia

Hiking the Chilean Patagonia

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

There are a few reasons I decided to apply for an international program. First, I am majoring in Spanish and decided that in order to really learn Spanish was to immerse myself in a culture in which I had to speak and use Spanish as my primary language. Second, I wanted to see the world. Studying abroad is a great way to not only learn and continue your college career, but you also get to travel the world while learning.

Lastly, it seemed like the right time to take advantage of an opportunity to go live somewhere else. I'm not sure if there will be another time in my life where I will just be able to pick up and move to another country for five months and I decided I should take advantage of the opportunity while I still had it.

Why did you choose IES Abroad?

I had heard good things about IES Abroad and I am interested in medicine. While in Santiago, I was able to participate in a clinical observation class in which I had the opportunity to observe different doctors in different healthcare settings and learn about the health care system in Chile. Also, I took a medical Spanish class, which I think will be very useful when I have a career in medicine.

Copa America supporters in Chile

Supporting Chile in the Copa America

What was your favorite part about Chile?

Chile as a country blew my mind every time I travelled. I didn't know there were so many incredible places to experience in Chile. In Santiago, my favorite part was that there was always somewhere new to go and something going on. Although Santiago is not the biggest city in the world, during my last weeks there I was still visiting neighborhoods that I had never been to before.

What component of your program made it unique?

I think the different internship opportunities my program offered made it unique. Those of us who were interested in medicine were able to participate in the clinical observation and those who were interested in business were able to work with companies around Santiago.

Chile is not a place a lot people generally think to study abroad in, but I would highly recommend it and I think I got a very unique experience as a whole.

Atacama desert in Chile

Exploring the driest desert in the world

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local staff were there to help us with anything we needed! From restaurant recommendations, help editing our essays (for non-Spanish grammar classes), planning travel, if we were having problems in our home stays, whatever we needed, they were there.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I would have started exploring the different parts of Santiago earlier. I tended to stay in the neighborhoods where I and all of my friends lived, but towards the middle to end of my program I started really exploring and I wish I would have started earlier.

What was a typical day like for you in Santiago?

Every day was different and brought a new adventure, but typically I would wake up and eat breakfast at my host family's house. Then I’d take the bus to our study abroad center, and do homework and hang out with the other people in my program there. The majority of us would eat lunch at the center together and then we would go to class.

After a couple of classes, I would go and try a new cafe or go to a place I had not been to before with my friends, and then we would take the bus home to eat dinner with our host families. After dinner, I would do some homework and then either just hang out at my house or go out to a bar or restaurant to hang out with my friends.

Students in Valle de Elqui, Chile

Weekend trip to the Valle de Elqui with some of my friends from my program

What did you enjoy doing on your free time most?

I really liked going out with my friends. It was always fun to go to new places and just get to know each other. During these times, we also got to talk with Chileans, which helped us with our Spanish.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I stayed with a Chilean family in their house and it was one of the best parts of my program. My family was wonderful and welcomed me into their family. They were really patient and helped me when I couldn't quite communicate what I needed to communicate. My favorite part was that I had to speak Spanish with them. With my friends I could speak English, but my host family did not speak english and I think being at home talking with them really had an impact in my Spanish-speaking ability.

Now that you're home, how has your program experience impacted your life?

My program has taught me how to slow down and just enjoy the moment. Life moved at a much slower pace in Santiago and I have come to love to just be able to take everything in as I go. It also taught me to appreciate the things I typically take for granted, like long showers and being able to throw toilet paper in the toilet.