Do you want to study in one of South America’s most progressive capital cities? Home to approximately seven million inhabitants, Santiago is a dynamic sprawling metropolis located in the heart of Chile’s fertile central valley at the base of the massive Andes Mountains. With some of the best and prestigious universities in Latin America located in the capital, many Chilean and foreign students alike flock to study in Santiago. Chosen by the New York Times Travel Section in 2011 as the #1 destination in the world to visit, Santiago offers a plethora of opportunities for experiential learning abroad. Here’s a taste of what it’s like to study abroad in Santiago.
Food & Culture
Santiago has a long history as the historical, cultural, and political hub of Chile. As the capital of a country that was torn by a 17-year dictatorship (which returned to democracy in 1990), the city of Santiago has flourished as an intellectual center. Most recently, Santiago has been the focal point of students seeking education reform in 2006 and the student movement of 2011. This is an ever-changing city and threre is a historical moment to study abroad in Santiago. There is much that can be learned, observed, and gathered from the progressive ideas that have been developed and expressed here, along with the political changes of the country!
Studying in Chile
Prepare yourself for a new adventure not only outside of the classroom, but inside the classroom as well. It may take time to adjust to an unfamiliar educational style, and Chilean students and professors might not be the same as they were in the United States. Depending on your professors, specific program, and duration, you may find that the structure of the class is completely different and may be even slightly disorganized by your standards. Although it may feel like a disadvantage at first being in an unfamiliar environment, you will reap the benefits from being challenged and gaining a different way of learning; and even have a new perspective to take with you back home.
A fascinating concept about international education is that each individual’s study-abroad experience is unique to that person, and no two are exactly the same. In Chile, time is more relaxed compared to the United States (This is not to say that it is acceptable to be late to class — it’s not). Some people who are studying abroad in Chile love this casual attitude, while others find it frustrating at first. Professors may or may not have office hours. Here, professors might not be as disposed to give you individual attention, or the complete opposite could also be true.
Usually, students from the U.S. find that Chilean professors have more of a lecture style, are less hands on and interactive, and might not be as likely to encourage students to vocally participate in class. Of course, there are always exceptions due to each professor’s preferred style.
Chile has a unique grading scale. Instead of using a scale based out of 100 total possible points, with letter grades (A, B, C, D, F), the Chilean grading scale is based out of seven total possible points. Therefore, a seven is considered the highest score a student can earn and one is the lowest.
Generally speaking, students in the United States are given a lot of homework. However, Chile is much like Europe in that students are expected to study on their own throughout the semester and prepare for individual course exams. That could be midterms, projects, and final exams. Of course this will vary if you are studying abroad in Santiago for a short while (under a semester) or a longer-term program such as a semester or a year. It will also vary depending on if you are in a classroom with other Chilean students, or in a program designed for foreigners. Be patient and remember that even though this might be strange to you, to others it’s a way of life, and you will adapt.