Names: Ashley Quintela and Kylee Askew
Ashley: Journalism major, Spanish minor
Kylee: Criminology and Criminal Justice major, Spanish minor
Program: ISEP Exchange at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso
Location: Valparaíso, Chile
Why did you choose the program?
A: I knew that ISEP was the cheapest for me and my scholarship paid for a good chunk of it.
K: I am a Goodrich student and I selected this program to be able to apply my scholarship toward the tuition abroad. With a criminal justice major I am required to have a minor. I did not hesitate with selecting Spanish. I have loved the language ever since I was first exposed to it in eighth grade. I took two years in high school but really wanted to learn the language.
What kind of classes did you take?
A: I was able to take major classes while abroad. Because of this program, I officially declared my minor in Spanish.
K: I took all Spanish classes and was able to take 12 credit hours toward my minor. I should have taken 15 credit hours in Chile to complete my entire minor, but I got the majority taken care of, so no worries!
How did you find out about the program?
A: I just went into the study abroad office and asked about it. I knew I wanted to do it, I just didn’t know which program or where.
K: I found out from Goodrich staff members and the study abroad office!
Did you know anyone in Chile before you went abroad?
A: Nope. Honestly, I didn’t even know much about the country!
K: No, but during the Education Abroad pre-departure orientation, I overheard some student say they were going to Chile to study Spanish so I quickly emailed the Education Abroad Advisor. Funny story – that student ended up being another Goodricher I had never met before. We ended up connecting to go get our visas together and now are best friends!
I’ve heard that Chilean Spanish is difficult! Did you find that to be the case?
A: Chileans are incredibly fast speakers. It is a undeniably one of the most difficult countries to lean Spanish in. Before I went, I had very limited Spanish anyway, and being thrown into a house where they only spoke fast Spanish, it was hard to adapt. I learned a lot though! It definitely provided me with a strong foundation in Spanish.
K: Yes, it is difficult, but it’s not impossible. I feel that since I can understand Chilean Spanish, I can do anything. When I arrived in Chile, I thought instantly, “I do not know Spanish at all.” It is simply their dialect of the language. I wish I could have stayed the academic year because by the time I left I was just getting comfortable with the language there.
Did you experience culture shock?
A: There were some things that I needed to get used to, but for the most part, I didn’t struggle too much. My previous trips abroad to Peru, Costa Rica and El Salvador prepared me a lot for what life is like in different countries. If anything, I experienced more of a culture shock when I was back!
K: I did suffer from homesickness roughly three months into my time abroad. But I got over it after my trip to Brasil and Argentina. What I would recommend to students studying abroad is to let go of your phone. The more you disconnect, the more you are able to fill your time abroad doing other things.
What was a highlight of the program for you?
A: My friends! I met some of the most incredible people. I would have never met Kylee Askew if it wasn’t for this program.
K: This is a hard question to pinpoint. It is more of a collection of highlights. I was able to really push myself beyond comfort zones and immerse myself into the full experience. What I was able to take away from the program was personal growth, a love to travel, and friendships. Ashley and Chelsea were the two friendships I really took away from the trip and we talk almost daily together still. Chelsea and I are actually bridesmaids in Ashley’s wedding this summer!
[If you're considering this program]: Do it. It’s scary and overwhelming but above all, it’s a beautiful experience. Also, don’t expect to come back completely fluent in Spanish, because odds are, you won’t, and that’s okay!
- Ashley Quintela
Any funny stories from studying abroad?
A: Oh gosh, there are so many to choose from. Well, my host mom was not a very good cook. On days where she would be gone and I was home alone, she would leave my lunch set out for me in the kitchen. I had to hide it before she got home, and I had so much spinach pie in my closet. Yeck!
K: Within 48 hours of being there with my host family I locked myself outside on the back porch while I was home alone. Before leaving I was Facetiming my grandparents my view from my back porch and my host dad had said goodbye. He did not speak English at all and I always think maybe he told me not to shut the door because it will lock – which is possible because at that point I could not really understand him. I “whatsapp” messaged my sister who was at church to let her know. All of a sudden I was flowed with texts from my host mom about how Hugo (my host dad) was on his way to rescue me. In the end we all laughed and I NEVER did that again. But I did feel so embarrassed about the situation.
What advice would you have for someone considering this program?
A: Do it. It’s scary and overwhelming but above all, it’s a beautiful experience. Also, don’t expect to come back completely fluent in Spanish, because odds are, you won’t, and that’s okay!
K: First, your host family is a crucial component to your time there. Mine became my best friends and really opened the doors to how many locals I new. Secondly, force yourself to only speak Spanish, including with your exchange friends, and be careful about how loudly you speak in English. Third, travel, travel, travel! There are many Catholic holidays there which means many days off of school or extended weekends. It is very affordable to travel within Chile and out of the country. Fourth, document daily. I filled an entire notebook with my time abroad and I love going back to remember those moments.
One point to mention is that Chile is a popular place for exchange students, but the locals are still very blunt when talking to you. I am an African American female with very curly hair. On the daily, I was called “negra,” which I took offense to at first, but I talked with my host family and they said the locals don’t mean for it to be mean or condescending. They are just very interested in who you are and where you came from and why you are there.
Lastly, make friends beyond the exchange students: you’ll thank me later.
Do you have any plans to go abroad again?
A: Absolutely. I have actually already talked to the Education Abroad Advisor about a trip next summer for a month to Nicaragua.
K: If I could do college over, I would spend each semester in a different country! But realistically I do want to go abroad at least one more time before I graduate. I am thinking more about a summer term and I want to go to another Spanish-speaking country.
Do you want to study abroad? Get in touch today to speak with our awesome peer advisors and learn more about education abroad options and funding opportunities!
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