Shenice Morris - 2015 Program Participant
Enjoying the view of the Pacific Ocean in the city of Viña del Mar - Don't be fooled, there are signs prohibiting people from swimming at this beach for safety reasons, so people more so just enjoy the view.
Why did you choose to study abroad in Chile, and why did you decide on going with IES Abroad?
I am a double major in Spanish and public health. When choosing a study abroad location I picked the program that allowed me to best explore my two concentrations both in and out of the classroom. The IES Abroad Santiago, Chile experience allowed me to be completely immersed in speaking Spanish while providing the academic coursework to fulfill major requirements in both concentrations. One of my courses even allowed me to learn about the Chilean health care system by visiting different healthcare institutions. I was able to see firsthand emergency room departments, intensive care units for newborns, physical therapy facilities, and so much more.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
I lived with a host family and I loved that I was forced to speak Spanish with them!
Describe a day in the life of your program.
I would get up, make myself breakfast (whatever was available in my host mom’s kitchen), grab the lunch that my host mom prepared for me, and take the bus (20 minutes to the IES Abroad Center) or walked (40 minutes to the IES Abroad Center).
My classes at the IES Abroad Center were two hours long. At lunchtime I would eat the food my host mom prepared for me. At the end of the day, I went home and usually had dinner alone, since everyone ate at their own times. I might have been the only one eating, but my host mom or the housekeeper might have been in the kitchen, which was nice to be able to talk with them.
What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?
My favorite moments were interacting with Chileans. Whether I went out exploring my neighborhood or was talking to street vendors, speaking with the locals helped me learn more about Chile and helped me practice my Spanish.
Hiking through the Andes Mountains
What was your favorite part about Santiago?
The location more than anything was convenient. There was access to transportation throughout the city, such as buses and trains, that ran pretty regularly. However, after 9 p.m. the city buses stopped running so regularly.
Something I absolutely loved was that there were buses for really cheap that would take you up and down Chile. Those were different from the city buses and ran regularly. It was a great way to escape the city. I also really liked that where I lived in Santiago was not too far from where I attended classes. I was able to walk to class and save on transportation. However, that was not the case for all the students.
What makes the IES Abroad Public Health program unique?
I’m not entirely sure about the other programs, but my friend participated in an IES Abroad program in Spain and she said there was close to 100 people in that program. Furthermore, people in the Spain program came in knowing each other. My program however had 22 students and none of us came in knowing each other. It was really nice since we were a small group, we were able to all become friends and no cliques formed.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The local staff was always there to answer any questions that we had, from inquiries about classes, to making a medical visit. Also, when I was feeling down one time because of a family issue, I tried hard to hide it. However, one of my program coordinators picked up on my change in demeanor and did what she could to cheer me up. I really appreciated her efforts to make me feel better.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I had a homestay, and I wish I spent less time in my room and more time with the family when I heard, for instance, my host mom in the kitchen. It would have been better if I came out of my room just to spend more time with her. That probably would have helped me not feel so lonely as I often felt, and that would have been great for practicing my Spanish.
Shenice did a tour of Valle de Elqui, located five hours away from Santiago, and the views were absolutely breathtaking.