- What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB? The classes were fairly similar to those at UCSB. In Argentina, exams were in-class midterms and finals whereas in Chile, exams were take home essays and a final presentation. Since the program is split in two, the rigor of the work is similar to summer sessions at UCSB; you spend around 6 weeks in each country.
- What was your favorite class abroad? I enjoyed all of the classes. It’s difficult to pick just one since they were all interrelated.
- Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience. N/A
- How would you describe your host institution? In Argentina, the host institution is smaller and gives off a more private school vibe. Torcuato DiTella is located in the suburban area of Belgrano. In Chile, the host institution is larger and more diverse and Universidad Alberto Hurtado is located in the heart of Santiago.
- Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join? Yes.
- Describe your housing situation. In both Argentina and Chile, I lived with a host family. I had a roommate who was also on the same program, and we got along really well which made the experience less daunting and also super fun! Both of my hostmoms were incredibly sweet and made sure we were comfortable and happy! They also helped me improve my Spanish a ton!
- Where did you eat most of your meals? In Argentina, breakfast and dinner at home were provided. In Chile, breakfast, sack lunch, and dinner at home were provided. For both countries we were expected to attend family dinners, but were able to eat out if we wanted to. As a courtesy to our hostmoms, we usually told them in advance if we couldn’t make it.
- How much was an average meal? Do you have any budgeting tips for future students? In Argentina the food was cheaper than here in the US whereas in Chile food was roughly the same price it is here. Try to eat at home as often as you can, but don’t suppress yourself from enjoying the food abroad!
- Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals? No, you indicate that on your housing questionnaire so they can match you with a hostmom or roommate who is also vegetarian or vegan.
- Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad. Definitely going to an estancia in Argentina. We were able to ride horses, watch a tango show, and eat delicious food. We had chimichurri, asado (steak), chicken, and many other traditional Argentine dishes.
- What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back? I definitely miss the 20 cent empanadas in Buenos Aires. Oddly enough, my friends and I got into the habit of eating Nikkei in Santiago, which is a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese food. They had amazing chicken sushi that I’ve been struggling to find here in the US.
- Describe your host city. “Downtown” Buenos Aires is very metropolitan in the sense that it reminds me a lot of New York City and that same hustle and bustle lifestyle. This was where our Spanish language classes were. I lived in Belgrano, right next to Chinatown and really close to our university. However, it was also a bit further from Palermo which was where the bars and main restaurants were (about a 25 minute bus ride).
- Was it easy to get around? It was fairly easy to get around. Public transportation is very well integrated in both cities with buses as well as subway lines. Buenos Aires was a lot more affordable to move around than Santiago.
- Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students? I felt very safe. For both countries and traveling in general, it’s important to keep your belongings close to you and be vigilant especially with your cellphone and backpack. On public transportation and in public areas it’s normal to put your backpack in front of you to protect your things. Try to avoid using your phone in public or putting it in your pocket.
- What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city? I enjoyed finding cute cafes to study in, ferias (outdoor markets), taking day trips, and trying new food.
- Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad. One cultural difference was how race and ethnicity were portrayed, especially in Argentina.
- How did you handle culture shock? I didn’t really experience culture shock, it was mostly getting used to speaking Spanish everywhere. Sometimes I miss speaking Spanish as it improved a lot over that semester.
- What is your favorite aspect of your host culture? People in Chile were very kind and helpful if you asked for directions or stopped them on the streets. In my encounters, they were very friendly and approachable.
- Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad. My favorite story involved visiting San Pedro de Atacama desert in Chile. We went for a weekend, rented a car and drove around visiting beautiful landscapes and listening to good music. We saw lagunas, valle de la luna, geysers, and many more. It was in the midst of a very busy time so I almost didn’t go, but I’m so glad I did. It was absolutely stunning and unlike anything i’ve ever seen before.
Images from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.
- What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal? I was worried I wouldn’t make friends (which everyone is worried about), but it was easy to find people to connect with since this program attracts similarly-minded people who are passionate about the same things as you are.
- What was your biggest challenge abroad? Time management. It was difficult to balance school and travel, especially with how little time you have in both countries (6 weeks flies by!) It helps to plan out the trips as far in advance as possible (we made google docs with info for airbnbs, flights, sights, food. etc. to stay organized) as well as a weekly planner for schoolwork.
- How have you changed as a result of your time abroad? It definitely ignited my desire to travel more. I always knew I loved traveling but I never had the chance to do so, so going abroad through school was a great learning experience in terms of super basic things like what to do with your phone, how to navigate public transportation, where to find information, safety tips, etc. I think it also made me more outgoing as it pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to become more independent.
- What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students? Go for it!! I was nervous about studying abroad, but finally decided to sign up and I’m so glad I did. I wish I went earlier on during my time at UCSB so I could do another program!