Looking Back on Studying Abroad

Today’s blog post comes to us from Texas A&M student & API alumni Jane Turchi! She studied abroad with API in Valparaíso, Chile earlier this summer and took part in our Student Blogger Program.

What I’ll remember from study abroad

Cachai, bacán and palta. These are just three of the many words I have learned during my time here. Before a trip it can be fun to add a few of these words to your vocabulary. While so many new words and accents can be difficult to understand (especially when you first arrive) I believe it improves your experience, allowing you to better experience the culture and how it differs from any other country in South America.

I can’t talk about Chile without mentioning its breathtaking landscape.

Whether gazing at the Andes or watching a sunset on the beach, you are in constant awe of nature and the grandness of every geographic formation here in Chile. Adorning this landscape is a wide variety of diverse and colorful architecture. In Valparaíso alone, historical architecture from England, Germany and France adorn the streets. A port city built on rolling hills by the ocean, these colorful buildings decorate the hills of Valparaíso and (sometimes) even seem to defy gravity like this house here!

House in Valparaiso Chile

 After the first few temblors (small earthquakes) I no longer thought it was out of the ordinary to feel small shakes and better appreciate the architecture around me even more — knowing most of it had withstood a magnitude 8.8 earthquake in 2010!

Every trip to the hills is sure to end with a new discovery and some colorful pics!

Cerro Alegre, Concepcion and Mariposa are some of the most famous, although interesting sights can be seen all over the hills. Local artists sell paintings of the ocean and houses that can make great souvenirs as well. When adventuring around the city, be prepared to walk, but if you’re feeling like taking a short cut, pay a small fee to ride an ascensor up to your hill.

For more souvenirs venture to one of the many ferias (local street vendors) in Valparaíso’s Plaza Sotomayor. Jewelry, books, antiques and sweets sold by locals these ferias can make some fun trips after class.

Chile’s history is also intriguing.

Hearing my friends, host parents and professors’ outlook on the Chilean identity taught me things about the country that I could never learn from a textbook. From the nation’s native past, to its complicated colonization, all the way to Chile’s vote to end a dictatorship in the 80s, the nation is made up of strong and resilient people. Even today the country continues to adapt as the nation experiences continued growth and development. 

Chile is an excellent option for students in search of a culturally rich experience with some challenges and great rewards.

Chile offers an opportunity to learn about ancient native history, witness the artistic diversity of Valparaíso street art and learn the cultural slang.

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