Sarah Maloney: Language, culture and volunteering in Chile
Sarah Malone traveled to Peru while studying in Chile
'I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life... I have many more options'
Interview by Kiné Camara, University Communications Intern
Location: Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile
Academics: I took the following classes with other American and international students:
Meet more globe-trotting students:
- Traditional Dances of Chile
- Advanced Grammar
- Advanced Written Spanish
- Art and Society of Pre-Columbian Chile
- History and Cinema
Home away from home: I lived in a homestay with a mother, grandmother, two kids, and dog, Danka.
Meeting people: I met people volunteering with Un Techo para Chile to build a water system in a neighborhood. Un Techo para Chile is a Chilean nonprofit serving low-income communities through social services. They build homes for families living in poverty. I also met locals through parties, social events, my host family, and wandering the streets of Valparaiso.
Favorite place: Las dunas (the dunes) were beautiful! You could watch the sunset or see stars from the top, and on the weekend you could go sand boarding!
Favorite new-learned word: Poh is a part of the Chilean dialect of Spanish and is short for pues. In general poh can be added to any word to add emphasis, though its meaning depends on the context. No pues or No poh ("no indeed") is commonly used.
New-learned cultural norm: The Chilean approach to time was to arrive when you can!
Most memorable experience: I enjoyed traveling to Peru and seeing Machu Picchu, the Inca Ruins. We traveled for over 20 hours by air, taxi and bus. It was so worth it!
Paying for study abroad: I paid using personal savings from high school/college work and savings from my parents. Since I studied with a program (Academic Programs International), it was more expensive than a regular Western quarter.
Greatest challenges while studying abroad:
- Understanding the Chilean dialect.
- Meeting Chilean students: All the public universities were on strike.
- Practicing Spanish: I did not have classes with Chilean students.
Advice to students looking to study abroad:
- Bring a lock and key: you may need it to secure your belongings while staying at a hostel.
- When you find yourself saying no, ask yourself why. Feeling uncomfortable or shy (given there is no danger) should not be the reason to say no to a new experience!
- Think about what you want to accomplish through your study abroad and plan for it.
- Make time to communicate with your family.
Advice for families:
- Study abroad programs are expensive; create a financial strategy ahead of time.
- If you can visit your child abroad, do so!
- Learn about a country before worrying about it being dangerous.
How did your study abroad experience change your future plans? I decided I want to teach English abroad for a year, after graduation. Also, I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life, but after studying abroad I feel I have many more options! The experience was extremely humbling.