Perhaps no other poem best describes the “Jewel of the Pacific” quite like Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Valparaíso: “Valparaíso, what an absurdity you are, how crazy…What a head of disheveled hills…and always you were surprised by life.” It’s hard to beat such a colorful description, but many have tried. It’s bohemian. Spontaneous. Quirky. Vibrant. The list goes on and on. Oh, and did we forget to mention Valparaíso is a World Heritage city?!? Get ready to take in some serious color—and adventure—while you study abroad in Valparaíso.
What you need to know more about Studying Abroad in Valparaíso, Chile
Long having drawn inspiration for poets, writers, and artists, Valparaíso breathes authenticity and encourages creativity. As a student, you too can revel in the arts and languages, or take courses in a wide range of subjects. Chile is known for having one of the best educational systems in Latin America, so be ready to challenge yourself and grow!
Popular subjects to study. Hola amigos! Are you ready to brush up on your Spanish? By taking classes and immersing yourself in the community, your fluency will develop so quickly that you’ll soon be dreaming in español. Valparaíso has more than just Spanish though; what about the sciences? As a coastal city, Valpo is the perfect place to take courses on ecology, the environment, marine biology, and much more.
Studying history while you study in Valparaíso is also popular, as students can explore Valparaíso’s intriguing past as a port city and major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. European immigrants flocked here during the 19th century, and your history lessons will come to life as you peel back the layers of the city.
Short term and summer programs vs. long term programs. It’s all about timing in Chile. Since Chile is located in the southern hemisphere, study abroad programs in Chile are on different schedules and begin in March and end in December. If you are looking to develop your language skills, consider a long term program. Semester and year-long programs are the perfect way to develop friendships and return home fluent and ready to communicate with Spanish speakers. Short term programs can also be beneficial for language learners who are short on time, but ready to engage in Spanish.
Attending universities vs. other program types. Does your home university already offer a study abroad option in Valparaíso? If not, consider the direct enrollment route—as a college town, Valparaíso boosts a wide range of options. Consider the Universidad de Valparaíso, Federico Santa Maria Technical University, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso, and the Universidad de Playa Ancha in your search. Third party programs are also a popular option, with many academic interests to choose from!
Life in Valparaíso, Chile for International Students
As you may have caught on to by now, Valparaíso is known for its colorful street art and graffiti. Paseo Gervasoni is a popular walking street full of beautiful street art, cobblestone lanes, and trendy cafes. The laid-back nature of Valpo is captured in more than just art though; writers, musicians and the Nobel prize winning poet, Pablo Neruda, have all made this city their home. Make sure to visit La Sebastiana, the four-story home of Pablo Neruda which offers visitors a 360 degree view of the city.
Students will enjoy exploring all that Valpo has to offer. Start by taking a ride back in time on an ascensor (elevator) in order to get a better understanding of Valparaíso’s history. Continue your tour of the city by taking in Plaza Sotomayor, a monument and memorial to Chilean naval hero’s. For students looking for souvenirs and fun food experiences, Valparaíso is known for its street vendors and markets. If you’re lucky enough to be in Valparaíso for the New Year, be sure to attend the famous “New Year’s Eve by the Sea” festival, where over a million people camp out along the bay to welcome in the New Year and celebrate.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for study abroad students in Valparaíso
For students looking to gain Spanish speaking fluency, consider a homestay option when you study in Valparaíso. Not only will a homestay help you to develop your Spanish skills, it is also an excellent way to become truly immersed in Chilean life. Understanding the everyday life of Chilean people is a major advantage to participating in a homestay. Become part of a family, discover what kind of leisure activities are popular, participate in holidays, and development close relationships.
Adventure outside of the classroom to learn how Valparaíso’s history earned it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage city. The colonial city has preserved 19th century urban and architectural development. Valparaíso’s natural hillsides presented characteristically unique architectural challenges and the people learned to adapt by developing ascensores to help locals get to the higher areas of town. So go ahead and be a bit lazy for learning's sake (we won’t judge); this is one form of transportation you won’t want to miss out on!
As Pablo Neruda would say, you will be “surprised by life” in Valparaíso. With so much to learn in and outside of the classroom, Valpo is truly your chance for study abroad immersion. If you have a bit of quirkiness or a spontaneous side, we are sure that Valparaíso will be an exciting experience and will only further your desire to study abroad in Chile.
Are you ready to chill out in Valparaíso? Read our comprehensive guide on studying in Chile.