Studying abroad in two locations has its pros and cons. Of course you’ll meet new incredible people and places along the way, but you’ll eventually have to say bye to them too. When I first signed up for this program I knew I wanted to have a unique experience – and I certainly have – but I didn’t really take into consideration the hassles of moving around so often. So now that I’ve reached my final destination in Santiago and had some time to really get a feel for my total experience so far, I’ve decided to come up with yet another list explaining (and venting…) about how I feel about what it’s like to study abroad in two locations:
The people – At the centers you will meet your IES Abroad support, teachers, and peers from other programs. These people have made me feel the most at home. I love my homestay families, they’ve had their quirks, but when I needed help I always turned to the people at IES Abroad. Since our group doesn’t have adequate time to join local university classes, all our teachers are from IES Abroad and everyone knows us as the emerging economy group – we’re a notorious bunch only because our program is new and we’re testing the waters.
The classes – You didn’t pay tuition for a vacation, you’ll definitely be studying. Since this was the first time the program was running we had a lot of interesting courses taught by some very interesting teachers. English will probably not be your teacher’s native tongue, which is fine – you can usually get passed the language barrier. The classes will be taught like a semester class, except you’ll pack everything in 6 weeks twice. So be ready to put yourself through 2 sets of midterms and finals. You’ll hate it some days when you have 3 different presentations, websites, videos, group projects and papers due in a few weeks – and you usually don’t get to see your grades along the way because the teachers probably haven’t had the time to grade things. But you’ll enjoy it other days when you’re with your teachers on field studies; you grow close to your teachers since there will probably be less than 5 of you in a class. For all the fun there’s an equal amount of stress.
The locations – I’m so sad to hear Rio will no longer be part of the Emerging Economies experience. We all fell deeply in love with Rio. The smells, the people, the foods (ok mostly just the brigadeiros). Brazil was so easy to love, even with Zika and political scandals. The summer in Rio was absolutely life changing, and I cannot wait to revisit Rio one day when I have the money for it. Peru holds a significant amount of Andean and Incan culture. Everything is not beautiful and pristine, but everyone has such incredible history. The views in Lima and Cusco are quite breathtaking– the high altitude will be a contributing factor. Santiago is so modern and urban, you’ll forget you’re in South America – until it gets cold and you find your house freezing. Pack lightly for Peru, bring sweaters and pants for Santiago, shorts and tank tops for Rio!! (Just pack light. 1 suitcase 2 carry-ons – you’ll thank me later.)
The Economies – Because we’re the emerging economies crew! At this point I should be able to talk about this at length and I really could, but let’s keep it really simple. In Brazil the economy was bad – which was great for us, everything in Rio was so cheap! The exchange rate was higher than ever, four Reais to every US dollar! Once we got to Chile, whose economy is much better than Rio’s, we noticed our dollar did not go quite as far. One US dollar was about 700 Chilean Pesos, so the math was not always easy and I definitely found myself spending way more than I meant to on a couple occasions.
The Pioneers – We were a small group, 8 of us will depart from Santiago having traveled to 4 different countries together and it’s pretty easy to say we’ve all grown incredibly close to one other, whether we wanted to or whether we even like each other – but I like to think we do. We have conquered Brazilian classes of Social Inequalities, waking up at 3am for flights out of Peru, braved the Chilean homes without central heating and still decided to plan a trip to Buenos Aires together! In short, on this wild ride across South America you’re going to bond with the small group of kids that have experienced it with you. So remember genteliza gera genteliza and buena suerte kiddos!
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<p>My name is Angie, I'm a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I'm majoring in Sociology and minoring in Linguistics. I love learning about people and cultures around the world through music, art and literature.</p>