Preparing for a Spectacular Summer in Santiago!

Headshot of Leah Henevald on a mountain
Leah Heneveld
June 6, 2023
A tall, light yellow Catholic Church with white pillars and accents stands out against a blue sky.

As I was finishing out my spring semester in Indiana, I was steadily ramping up my preparations for my summer abroad in Santiago!  The spring semester was so exciting, but looking at everything that needs to happen before going abroad can be super overwhelming.  With that in mind, here are some of the things I did to prepare myself for a fun & successful study abroad experience this summer:

  1. Reading all (yes, I mean all) of the preparation materials I’ve been provided with

A really helpful step for me in determining what tasks I would need to complete to prepare for studying abroad was reading through the preparation materials provided by both my home university and IES Abroad.  IES Abroad's predeparture guide clarified so many things about going abroad and answered more specific questions about my program as well, such as whether I needed a visa and what to do with my phone while in Chile.  My home school’s study abroad office also provided a handbook designed to better prepare students and share pertinent information about topics like culture shock and mental health while abroad.  Reviewing these materials made it much easier to write out a list of tasks and things to look into before I depart for the summer!

  1. Lots of lists!

In preparing to study abroad I made lists upon lists upon lists, and it definitely paid off.  Like I mentioned above, one of the most important lists I made was my list of tasks to complete before departure—including things like making my deposit, completing my health form, buying plane tickets, and more.  I also made lists of internship fields I was interested in, places I wanted to see, things I needed to research, and items I should pack. In my experience this was a great way to keep myself organized, and also get excited about all the things I could do while abroad!

  1. Learning about the city

In the semester leading up to my summer abroad, I made sure to set some time aside to research Santiago, as well as any other areas I might be interested in visiting while in Chile.  This helped me get a better idea of the culture I’d be transitioning into and what locals might be like.  A couple resources I found to be especially useful for this research were Lonely Planet and the IES Abroad blogs from other students that had done programs in Santiago.  I am a person who likes to be prepared, so I found that having some idea of what to expect and practical details like how to get around made me feel much more ready to depart and get the most out of my experience!

  1. Getting acquainted with Chilean Spanish

One major tip that I got from IES Abroad staff on preparing to study abroad was getting used to the dialect before arriving on-site.  In my case, this meant starting to listen to Chilean Spanish and pick up some of the unique vocabulary or different pronunciations that are more common in the region.  Especially since I will be completing an internship in Spanish during my time in Santiago, starting to develop an ear for the Chilean dialect has helped me feel much more prepared to handle myself abroad, especially upon arrival when so many things will be new to me.

While preparing to study abroad can certainly be overwhelming, I hope these tips have been a helpful breakdown and a reminder of how exciting going abroad can be!  Remember to take a deep breath, and keep in mind how much support you have behind you.  Your study abroad has the potential to be such an incredible experience if you come in with a positive outlook and an enthusiasm to learn :)

Headshot of Leah Henevald on a mountain

Leah Heneveld

I speak four languages (English, Spanish, Arabic, and Pashto), and I LOVE holidays, especially Christmas. I also love watching new shows, specifically fun reality shows like the Great British Bake-Off and Queer Eye.

2023 Summer 1
Home University:
Indiana University
Zeeland, MI
International Studies
Middle Eastern Studies
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