Jesse E.L., Chile- Pontifical Catholic Univ. of Chile, Global Studies Major and Spanish Minor


Magical Patagonia


1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB?

During my year abroad, I took Education, History, Political Science and Literature classes. These classes were entirely taught in Spanish and because this university is on the semester system, not the quarter system, the flow of the classes felt slower and a little more relaxed. However, the classes were often reading-heavy with only a few exams or essays throughout the semester. The classes felt very similar to classes at UCSB but I would say the main difference was that, my classes in Chile had less busy work and homework than classes at UCSB tend to have.

2. What was your favorite class abroad? 

I have two favorite classes! One of them was “Historia de genero en Chile/History of Gender in Chile,” and the other was “Teaching English to Speakers of Another Language.” The history class was extremely well taught and taught me so much about the history and culture of the place I was calling my home. The Teaching English class was one of my favorite classes I have ever taken in my academic career. As someone who is interested in doing the Peace Corps and teaching English around the world, this course was an amazing introduction and really taught me a lot about the globalized world and the role of English in that world. Additionally, I formed incredibly strong connections with my professor and made Chilean friends who I still am in contact with to this day.

3. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad?  If so, tell us about your experience.

Yes, I interned each semester of my study abroad year. The first semester, I interned with America Solidaria, a non-profit organization that works on the alleviation of poverty and educational and youth empowerment. I primarily worked on translations and planning for the annual youth summit in Santiago that brings youth from around the world. Second semester, I interned with Fundacion Pro Bono, a pro bono law firm that provides legal aid to vulnerable communities. I fell in love with this organization and the amazing work they were doing. I primarily worked on immigration and other human rights research for different panels they would hold. For both of these internships, it was an amazing opportunity to meet new people and I was blown away by the kindness I received from everyone. Additionally, the UCEAP Study Center was so helpful in obtaining internships for all interested students and made the process fun and exciting!


4. How would you describe your host institution?

My host institution, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, is the private university in Chile and it is ranked the #1 University in South America and it showed. The campuses were absolutely beautiful with extremely insightful professors and passionate students. The school worked hard at supporting exchange students and making you feel welcome. It is different than a lot of schools in the US in that it was not as social as schools here, as many Chileans live at home or commute long distances to school. However, during the scheduled lunch hour, you will see laughing, lounging students eating on the grass under the Andes mountains.

5. Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join? 

Yes, there are student clubs and organizations that UC students can join. I was a part of two clubs on campus. One was Animalia which was a club that was dedicated to taking care of the stray dogs on campus, feeding them, raising money for medical treatments and advocating for them to find loving homes. Another club was the CAUC club which is specifically dedicated to exchange students and integrating them into Chilean culture and life. They put on activities and excursions in an effort to give exchange students the chance to make Chilean friends.


6. Describe your housing situation.

My housing situation was amazing!! For this specific program, everyone lives with a host family for the first month during the intensive language program and then get the chance to stay with a host family or find a different housing situation. I loved my host mom, Lorena and it was a perfect introduction to Chile in a home where I felt comfortable and safe. However, I did choose to find my own housing to feel a bit more independent. I found an international house in the most amazing location and I ended up living there for the rest of my year in Chile. The house has 10 rooms and was filled with students from all around the world: Italy, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Chile, Argentina and more! This was such an amazing experience as I made friends from around the world and had a truly once of a lifetime opportunity.


7. Where did you eat most of your meals?

I ate most of my meals at home (breakfast and dinner) and on campus (lunch). The food on campus, especially the Peruvian food and empanadas they sell outside are cheap and absolutely delicious. For breakfast and dinner, I usually ate and cooked at home, often time doing big family style meals with my house-mates. However, the cafes and restaurants in Santiago are amazing and so I would love to splurge and go out for food with friends.

8. How much was an average meal?  Do you have any budgeting tips for future students?

An average meal for lunch was probably about 2.000 chilean pesos or 4 USD. However, at cafes and restaurants, meals were priced similarly to prices in the US, ranging from 10-20 USD. For future students, I would say that while rent will be cheaper, food is something that costs about the same as it does in the US and if you are planning on eating out a lot, you should plan on budgeting a good amount of money for that.

9. Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals?

I had a lot of friends who were vegetarian/vegan while they were in Chile. It was not difficult for them to find meals and Santiago actually has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. There was one metro stop in particular, “Universidad Catolica” that always had at least 20 people selling vegan and vegetarian food outside, such as delicious veggie burgers and vegan empanadas.

10. Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad.

My most memorable dining experience abroad was my last night in Chile. My friends and I went out to dinner at Lorenza Bistro and had the most amazing meal. This restaurant is half restaurant, half disco with a crazy fun atmosphere and music. My friends and I went all out and ordered the chef’s special dessert that took up the entire table and was made in front of us. They brought out an American flag, making us dance and directing all attention to our table. It was a bittersweet night filled with laughter and yumminess before I was going to have to leave the place I had grown to call home.

11. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

Oh gosh, this is a loaded question. I miss empanadas pretty much everyday and there was a Chilean chocolate called Rolls that I absolutely LOVED! Chile had incredible cafes with fresh juices and I really miss being able to get juice everywhere I went.


12. Describe your host city.

Santiago, Chile is easily my favorite city in the world. It is big and beautiful, surrounded by the Andes on all sides. The city is clean and safe, full of parks, cafes, hikes, and restaurants. It is fast paced but also relaxed. There is no limit of places to explore and new experiences to have.

13. Was it easy to get around?

The public transportation in Santiago was incredible! I loved riding the metro and it was so easy to get around (google maps was my best friend). I also loved walking everywhere, 40 minute public transport or an hour walk, I would always choose walking.

14. Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students?

I felt very very safe in Santiago. I was never concerned walking by myself during the day or taking public transportation. That being said, like anywhere, it is always important to be cautious and walk in pairs or in a group at night.

15. What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city?

One of my favorite things that I did in my host city was yoga in the park every Saturday and Zumba in the park on Sundays. These were free activities put on by the city of Santiago and they were so much fun. Another fun thing was that every Sunday, the major streets in Santiago would be closed from 8am-2pm for biking, running and roller skating. My favorite hike was hiking up to Cerro San Cristobal, a view that overlooks all of Santiago.


16. Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad.

For the most part, I did not experience that many cultural differences while abroad. Chile, especially Santiago is incredibly liberal and has many of the same features as a big metropolitan US city. Some differences would be the protests that took place in the city and specifically the strikes that sometimes would happen in the universities. The strikes in school were shocking at first but then I really grew to feel inspired by the way students took their education seriously and used their voices in a political and social way.

17. How did you handle culture shock?

The way I handled culture shock was just trying to come into my experience with as little expectations as possible. I was ready and excited for every new thing that came my way so when things would strike me as different, I was more just excited to learn and roll with it.

18. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

My favorite aspect of Chilean culture was the openness and kindness of the people. Everyone I met was incredibly kind and excited to share their culture. I loved spending the independence day celebrations in Chile learning about the local dance and dress.


19. Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad.

Traveling was one my favorite parts of studying abroad. From backpacking in Patagonia and Machu Picchu, river rafting in Southern Chile, visiting Easter Island and more, it is hard to pick just one favorite travel story. However, I will say that taking the jeep tour through Bolivia to see the salt flats was a dream come true to me. Driving under the stars, rock climbing in the middle of Bolivia, running into Alpaca everywhere we went and staying in villages that I couldn’t even find on a map was one of the most magical experiences of my life. I had just finished my first semester in Chile and this trip just really solidified my love and gratitude for this whole experience and was very motivating for the next semester to come.


20. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

My biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no deal was about making friends. I was really nervous about making friends and feeling lonely. That turned out to be no big deal and one of my favorite parts of study abroad. I made so many incredible friends that I know I will be friends with forever. The UC program is great because you get built in friends that make the process less scary and then throughout the program and especially the year, I was able to make really strong connections outside of the program too.

21. What was your biggest challenge abroad?

My biggest challenge abroad was having to leave Chile at the end.

22. How have you changed as a result of your time abroad?

As a result of my time abroad, I have definitely become more independent, confident and excited about life. There is so much out there to learn and see and I am so grateful for my experience. I feel much more capable and self-sufficient than ever before.

23. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?

My advice to prospective UCSB EAP students is to go into every experience with an open mind. Be outgoing, be yourself and embrace the experience. It goes by so fast and I am a firm believer that every experience is what you make of it and participating in EAP has the chance to be the most formative, exciting experience of your life.

Biking around the vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina
Backpacking in Patagonia!

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