Chile

United Planet

My short-term Quest to Santiago, Chile has undoubtedly changed the way I see not only myself, but the world in which we live in. From the moment my plane landed, I was surrounded by incredibly warm and welcoming people who taught me more than I thought I could possibly learn in 2 short weeks.

The host mom I lived with will always have a big place in my heart, she made every single day a dream for me. My volunteer experience was the most fulfilling work I have ever been a part of.

The children in the rehabilitation center were bursting with spirit and life, despite their disabilities. Each day I left my volunteer site, convinced that the children had made my day better than I could have possibly made theirs.

I would recommend and encourage anyone who shares global ideals with United Planet to sign up for a Quest, I have no doubt that my first Quest won't be my last.

I felt extremely safe during the entire trip. I had a phone in case of emergencies, and an extremely helpful country coordinator who was always in contact and just a phone call away.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Jul 26, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

I volunteered through A Broader View (ABV) from June 1 to July 12 of 2011. I did a lot of research before choosing this organization. The prices of the programs are incredibly fair and the value amazing. ABV gave me tremendous support throughout my volunteer placement. My in-country coordinator was always available for help, very energetic, and tremendously dedicated to her work. ABV found me the most kind and generous host family. I quickly felt like a member of the family, which made the integration to my new environment really easy. The accommodation was fantastic. I had my own room with my own bathroom - it was very cozy. I was fed a lot and learned how to cook some Chilean dishes too! In regards to volunteer placements... I worked at two different schools, and served as support for the English teachers. The staff at both schools really appreciated my help and I was treated with a lot of kindness, especially by the students. My personal feeling and opinion after volunteering with ABV is that, it is an organization that is genuinely striving to help people within each country it has programs. It is also and organization that takes great care in making sure volunteers are well-cared for and have a rewarding experience. My loving host family and volunteer placements are proof of that. I love to travel and meeting people, so I definitely want to volunteer with ABV in the near future and highly recommend it to others who would like their travels to make a difference. I met a few other volunteers along the way and they seemed equally as happy with ABV.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Jul 14, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

If you have an interest in volunteering, I 100% recommend A Broader View. The four weeks I spent in La Serena teaching English were four of the best weeks of my life. I made countless friends because I taught every class from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I think that the quality of my project was key to my satisfaction. A Broader View did an incredible job of selecting a school where I would be able to make a difference. I worked with all of the English teachers at the school, and they verbalized their appreciation for my help many times. The little kids told me that I was their "friend forever" and that they had never met someone from the US before; the older students (who were the same age as me) were eager to befriend me and invite me to hang out with them.

My host family was incredible. My mother began to call me "hija" by the third week of the trip. I felt like my host mother was my real mother and my host sister was my real sister. They included me in everything that they did, and my host mother even eagerly brought me to friends' houses and drove me to school, just like my mother at home would. In addition, she was an incredible cook. I miss them so much and I can't wait to visit them again; I plan to study abroad in Santiago my third year of college, and when my host sister found this out, she declared that we MUST share an apartment for the semester. I love my Chilean family so much!

Because I had such a wonderful time, leaving La Serena was so difficult for me. I made so many friends (both students and teachers) while volunteering. I fell in love with my host family. Upon returning home, I found myself wanting to make jokes that only my Chilean sister would understand. I especially missed the two-hour long “sobremesa” after dinner. Furthermore, I found myself sprinkling Spanish phrases into my English. I feel as though I can only express certain feelings about my trip in Spanish. I know I’m going to return to La Serena to visit all of my friends. I can't thank A Broader View enough for organizing this life-changing trip.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Jun 16, 2011
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

United Planet

I was referred by my classmate who had gone for a volunteer quest in April 2010. I arranged all funds and cut drown drastically on lot of my expenses to add up the program fee. I had to bear airfare, visa and couple other costs. Moreover, the fee was so much that, one would assume lot of things to be inclusive.

When in Chile, Paul was nice and he was really working hard. But host families weren\'t actually there, spent lot of days idling. I could have had saved funds but the united planet policy for nonrefund forced me to stay there.

Back in boston before leaving, confirming quest was not a walk in a park as i had assumed. coordinators had little knowledge and i believe there was 1 person representing a bunch of countries and i had to wait 3 days to get an answer since the specific country coordinator was out on vacation.

the organization is small, growing but for them we are just numbers to show that they have growing bunch of volunteer when fact is.. not all are happy.. but i dont think they care about it..

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Mar 27, 2011
Overall:
3
Support:
5
Value:
3

CEA - Cultural Experiences Abroad

My daughter applied and paid a confirmation deposit to study in Chile next school year. She participated in a Rotary year abroad in Chile last year, so she is very familiar with the culture and area. My daughter arranged her own residence with out the help of CEA, and CEA was unable to tell us how much of a refund they would give us for not using their housing. Her total charge for her program was going to be approximately $20,000 and we found out the tuition is a total of $5600 for 2 semesters at the University of Vina Del Mar, and after numerous phone calls, I was finally told by CEA that they could not give me a break down of where the other $14,000 was going. They also pressured her to get the confirmation money in by a specific date to save her spot, but again, they could/would not confirm how many spots they had.
PLEASE/PLEASE do your research and consider studying abroad on your own. This is a for profit company who is more than happy to take your money, then not work with you once they have your money in hand. They promise support at the international university, but all schools have a international student office who will provide the support for free. They also told me that excursions were involved in the program price, but with further research, we found the trips were to Santiago, which involves a $10 bus ticket.
My daughter was on academic probation when her confirmation was due, but was advised to turn in her high school transcripts and pay the deposit because they wanted her money. Any reputable organization would have advised her to get off of probation and then re-apply once her grades were in order. We have lost our $500 confirmation, but will save $10,000 by going it alone without their support. You are paying for NOTHING other than CEA filling out your university application, which in our daughter's case was one page. This organization is a bunch of fluff with no substance.
BUYER BEWARE!!!!!!!

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Mar 21, 2011
Overall:
0
Support:
0
Value:
0

Comments

How did you pay your money to them? If you paid the money by your credit card,you can make a complain to your credit card company and your credit card company will help you to charge back the money. Also you can talk to a lawyer and get some useful points. You can tell your story to everyone through internet, some people will help you.

United Planet

I am an experienced traveler and this Quest through United Planet was the best trip I have ever taken. United Planet is extremely organized, helpful, always in touch, reassuring and mostly, has a great relationship with the countries it is involved with. People in Chile were aware of United Planet and thankful for my presence. I was able to get a hold of my country coordinator at any hour of the day or night if I needed him. United Planet included a trip to Valparaiso on one weekend which was beautiful and amazing. The host mom they gave me will now be a lifelong mother to me and I could not have asked for a better trip. I have been in contact with many other volunteers who all have similar feelings about United Planet. I would recommend this program to ANYONE. The people at United Planet are genuine, intelligent, worldly, thorough, prepared for anything and very appreciative of your volunteer time. There is nothing I would have changed about my volunteer quest to Chile.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Sep 14, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

United Planet

I would not recommend United Planet. First of all, you do not see any of the money you pay go back into the local organizations. I paid to volunteer at a women's shelter and ended up having to buy my own supplies after paying to be there in the first place. Also, a week into the women's shelter, all of the children left for the summer holiday, so I spent my last week in Chile with no volunteer work.
Secondly, in India, I did not see my country coordinator once. The organization in the office in Goa was very poor, and there multiple problems, especially with the wildlife programs. You will also find that the program in Goa is very international, and many of the Europeans there probably paid less than you for your experience.
Chile was a better program - Paul Fischer is the country coordinator there and he is a very nice man who will do what he can to help you in your placement. The support rating shown above only applies to India, I would give Paul a 9. That being said, I was just not fond of United Planet's way of handling my money, or the fact that both of my placements ended before they were supposed to because UP hadn't planned accordingly.
The other unsettling thing about UP is that it is very hard to get into contact with the staff, and you will find that the staff is very limited in their knowledge. There is roughly one staff member per country, and the other staff members were unable to help me find information when my country staff member was out of town.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India, Chile
Posted: Jul 21, 2010
Overall:
5
Support:
5
Value:
4

Comments

We are also disappointed with United Planet. The host family where my daughter is staying is amazing, however, United Planet has terrible communication and have only been able to address some of my concerns as "your daughter is 18". I will not speak of the issues at this moment as I am still waiting to see how they resolve the concerns in a manner that supports their "global mottos". To be continued...by a concerned mother
i just got back from a UP quest in a not super safe spot. they dont tell you because she is 18, she is legal and they dont really have the right to tell you things unless she oks it. you should get the number to (i assume)the icye in the host country. she is probab;y fine and having a good time, a little freaked about bc its the first couple months. if you didnt trust her you would have found a way to stop her, remember that. dont get scared just because she is scared by a new thing. she will end up loving it
WOuld you recommend any other programs? Interested in South America/Ecuador, thanks...

Adelante Abroad

It's hard to evaluate Adelante Abroad, itself, as a company because most of the interaction/reviews I have are for the third party program I was involved with in Chile, The International Center.
Adelante Abroad fulfilled their initial responsibilites well and all in a timely fashion. Applying for the internship, working with correspondants in California in securing work placement and having a constant connection while I was stateside was great.
When I arrived in Chile, almost 2 hours late, I was releived that the airport transportation was still waiting for me. I got dropped off at my house with a set of keys,a map, an introduction to one staff member of The International Center and a 'see you on Monday.' This was fine with me because all I really wanted was to relax and unpack anyway. Luckily there was one other roommate in the house already and we ended up exploring a little together the first day. I have traveled before, am independent and had no real issues with the drop and go tactic...but I would have liked to have some information before I arrived as to who my roommates would be (if I would have any) at least.
I think because the overall experience is delivered by Adelante, a third party institution (Internatioanl Center) and finally your individual internship, it is hard to say where the blame/benefit can be placed. Not everything that was promised on the Adelante website was recieved.
CLASSES: The first 3 weeks of classes were fairly vague. Because there were so few students, the classes were divided into 'beginner' or 'advanced' groups but sitll, everyone had extremely different backgrounds/levels of Spanish. It was difficult to have had a class/coursework that would have focused on everyone's individual needs. Other than reviewing grammar and basic Spanish structure, we spent a lot of the classes focusing on Chilean culture, 'chilenismos' and other day to day things to expect while we were here. While this didn't satisfy some students expectations, I really benefited from learning what to expect from the Chilean culture/language structure since I had never been exposed to it before hand. It definitely helped me to feel more comfortable understanding and speaking in my new Chilean atmosphere. The professors at the Internatioanl Center are average, the coursework was average. Having arrived with an Intermediate Spanish level, the new material I learned was all conversational thorugh social connections and cultural through the courses.
INTERNSHIP: My internship was working at a winery in Casablanca. It is about 40 minutes outside of the city and unfortunately there is no direct transportation. Instead of taking 3+ different methods to arrive there, it was easier to take a bus direct to Santiago and jump out on the highway and walk a little. Definitely not the most convenient or comfortable, (nor the cheapest way to get there) but it worked out fine as my 20 hr a week schedule was completed in the first 3 days of the week. The transportation was the biggest downfall of my internship. I don't know how Adelante/The International Center secures internships for their students but all internships were very different, got different responses from the students and ultimately offered different things. For me, although it wasn't what I expected, it worked out and the personal benefits I recieved exceeded the downfalls.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Apr 14, 2010
Overall:
5
Support:
4
Value:
5

Adelante Abroad

Where to start...
Well I've been down here in South America for the past 15 months now and at the time I didn't want to go back home just yet. So, I went online and did some researching about internships in spanish and places in South America. It so happened to be that I found the website of Adelante Abroad. Things went as smooth as butter as it seemed while I turned in my application along with the so called "interview"; paid the "economic" amount that they wanted and I was off.
Now things went fine when I got here but slowly the picturesque scene of what I imagined to be a great internship slowly started cracking.
1.) DEADTIME. Unfortunately, YOU don't get to pick where you intern at. They choose for you and you have no choice but to stick with it for atleast 10 business days. That doesn't sound horrible but if your program is only for the typical 3 months and you have to spend 2 weeks waiting for you to PETITION to place you in a new one then you've just wasted 2 weeks. Now finding another one is a gamble because it can take another week for them to search for a new one or it could take your whole program time. From other reviews I've read they said that they were often better off just looking for a new one by themselves during the meantime. They also fail to inform you that if you work at a winery, then you'll be placed outside of town and that you'll have to commute by charter bus for 2 hours there and back.
2.) IS THIS SPANISH OR CHILEAN? The spanish classes that they set you up on, in your first couple of weeks here aren't really classes of spanish. There more like classes of Chilean that you'll probably never end up using outside of this country. It's cool to learn the local colloquial but, I'd like to freshen up my spanish. If you're coming to Chile and you think you know spanish be prepared to be blown away. These Chileans talk fast, don't pronounce their "D" and "S" and use a lot of slang. Chile is the last place to reccommend for any novice spanish learner.
3.) SPANISH "IMMERSION". The only spanish "immersion" you're going to get is the fact that you'll be in Chile. You're stuck in home with a bunch of Gringos and since your new roomates become your core group of friends that speak english...you'll struggle speaking the language as much as you'd like. This will also hinders your abilities to sway in Chilean friends; since A. you're not improving your spanish much and B. your loud gringo group mentality shenanigans are only going to reinforce the negative Gringo stereotype which only scare off the locals.
4.) IS THE MONEY WORTH THE HOUSING? No. Definitely not. Now I can understand this is a business that plays the middle man, finds your housing, your intern and feeds off your nervousness with a quick solution to resolve all.You are an "extranjero" which means prices of things are gonna be more for you than they're going to be for the locals. But if you take a local newspaper and you read the housing/rent page you'll realize that you're probably paying atleast double for a "livable" apartment that you share with 5 people instead of a nice beach penthouse for two. There is also cleaning lady that comes in once a week but she too complains about how much the company pays here and that I'd be better if you paid her directly instead. She won't do the dishes (or you pay extra).
5.) LIVING WITH A FAMILY. This is by far the best way to improve your Spanish since your with a local Chilean family. But Adelante Abroad/International Center will ask you to sign a contract that states that you need to pay an additional $200-250/ month for laudry, food and etc. But you'll soon find out that the International Center is only paying $360/month. This doesn't equate since you've paid at least $800-1000/month for "package" of housing, service (very vague word and they'll take it to another level when you complain about how much you're paying). But if you take that $200 out of the $360, you're left with $160. So they're only paying $160 for housing out of your monthly $800-1000? Are you kidding??? You will not get your money back since you signed away blindly at more than 5 different contracts that are just as vague as the "services" they say to provide; which consists of pretending to care by asking for updates, trips which cost no more then $40/person once a month,
If you love aspirins and headaches. This program is for you!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Apr 11, 2010
Overall:
3
Support:
1
Value:
2

Comments

The newer comments are listed as the first by the way! :O Start reading from the last :) Sorry for the inconvenience!
Hello Ellie of Adelante who likes to comment on every negative comment because her business is suffering from people that went through her program FIRST HAND. To answer your question, just because you have good review from the Better Business Buerau doesn't defines that you have a good business outside of the nation. The problem is that they only have JURISTICTION INSIDE THEIR OWN NATION. Meaning that whatever happens outside from a "second-hand" business owner (which whom Adelente is passing business to) is not inside their jurisdiction, nor will the business that has a complaint be dealt with internationally by them. I can't comprehend how you guys automatically get so defensive without hearing the other side and I find it personally insulting that you must step so low to defend yourself on a website that's founded on the program alumni's review. Was Adelante Abroad personally there when I was interning abroad in Chile? No (You work with a second-hand company called the International Center). Was Adelante Abroad there to manage how the money was handled personally? No. Did Adelente fail to tell me that the only internships available for my major were two hours outside of the city? Yes. Was it possible to Change internships instead of working so far? Yes, but you'll be placed in an internship where you teach english or babysit ninos. The only one in my field being the winery (I'm a marketing and sociology major by the way. Very broad.). I'm not saying that they have a problem within themselves, but the problem lies with whom they pass their business off to in Chile. Meaning that the revered Adelante Abroad office can only do so much, but throw "strong words of discontent" when something goes wrong with the "International Center". The owner of the International Center is named Oscar, he likes to say one thing to the face of the interns and to Adelante. So they bicker in fight and he doesn't, while he shovels in the money from both sides. I also find it highly dissapointing that Adelante Abroad failed to show me a "reciept" of what I paid fully but not indivually. Ellie above likes to use the analogy of a restraunt to my payment. First of all my 6 month stay is not a one-time meal at a restraunt and doesn't cost $6,000. When money goes into the thousands; clarity is needed. I'm not asking the restraunt for salaries, tax-cut information, rent nor the price of the dishes. I'm only asking for what I PAID. Which I feel I AM ENTITLED TO SEE. Much like going to a restraurent and asking how much it was for extra mushrooms :). Adelente speaks of "Very Independent". What they really mean is "low manteniance". You're free to do as you wish and as you please but please don't ask us for help. They pay for the airport ride when you arrive but fail to tell you that YOU, yourself must find YOUR OWN way back which happens to be a good two hours away. Taxi fee = hundreds of dollars. I happened to be in Chile during the 8.8 earthquake and Adelante was the last person to verify if I was well and the situation with my internship. I don't mean one or two days, I mean two weeks later. Classes are also for only a week out of the 6 months I was there. Excursions meaning one, and not the monthly ones that are promised. Thanks Independance! Really, If you don't believe a peer that went and experienced it first-hand or the reviews of the other collegues. Go find out how much it's not worth the money yourself. Quoting Ellie "...maybe just best to do it all on your own instead of paying a program to arrange everything for you." Maybe if you arranged and managed like planned, then we customers wouldn't have a problem?
Seems as if what you paid for was what you received: the Adelatne programs read as very independent and they have been in business for 12 years and they have a pretty good rating on the Better Business Bureau. Trying to divide yup what you pay for rent, classes, etc is a pretty futile excercise (do you try and figure out how much a restaurant paid for the meat they are serving you? The dishes? what about salaries, rent, taxes, insurance, etc to run the business) Anyways, if you paid for airport pick up, classes, your internship some excursions and your housing was excellent, you got what you paid for. (By the way, any winery will be outside of town!! Have you ever visite da winery in a city? Impossible, they are acres and acres, of course, so the are logically located outside of urban areas - this too, is on the Adelante website) good luck in future travels, maybe just best to do it all on your own instead of paying a program to arrange everything for you.

Adelante Abroad

Evaluation
At the end of your internship Adelante will ask you to complete a program evaluation like the one below. I thought it would be helpful to post my responses for other perspective students looking to go to Chile.
For those of you that don’t know, Adelante works with a partner organization in Chile that is called the International Center. In addition to the work they do with Adelante they also run an English language school.
In short, I believe the program is fair IF the Spanish classes were greatly improved. I expand on the problems below more, but basically they lacked structure, rules and guidelines for speaking the language. Another thing to keep in mind is the Spanish in Chile is a lot different from any other Latin American country. They do not pronounce their “D” and “S”, drop endings off of words and use lots of slang. I lived with a girl who had spoken Spanish everyday for the last 3 years with people from Ecuador and she said she could barley understand what Chileans were saying. Native Spanish speakers I talked with from Argentina also had this problem. If you’re a beginner to intermediate level speaker I would recommend studying elsewhere where the Spanish is cleaner. I have studied in Peru and Guatemala before and it was much easier to learn and speak, not to mention cheaper. So if your main goal is to learn Spanish I would go somewhere else.
However, if you’re looking for a descent internship to gain career experience then that might be difficult to find in another Latin American country. In Guatemala I volunteered and was very frustrated because I wanted to help, but there wasn’t always work available and my supervisor wouldn’t show up to work half of the time. It seems many organizations lack organization and many charge to volunteer in Latin America like Adelante. In Chile though my supervisors were always there. We didn’t always have work to do, but at least I could sit and practice my Spanish with someone. With that said too, you may be not always feel needed in your internship, but I think this is understandable. Many people only come for 2-3 months and then leave. It would be difficult for a business to operate purely on interns, not knowing when another is coming, what level of Spanish they have and how long they’ll stay. So many times you will probably be an extra hand. I found this to be true for myself and others I met down there. The one exception being English teachers, they were in high demand and many people got to teach their own classes after a week or two of training. I was okay not feeling needed since I was an environment to practice Spanish and focused on that instead.
Vina del Mar, Chile felt very safe and was an easy place to live. Public transportation was readily available and cheap. It’s more expensive to live in Chile than other Latin countries, especially Vina del Mar since it’s a large tourist destination.
If you live in the shared apartment with other students you're going to speak English. It's better in my opinion to live with a host family (at least part of the time) to increase your Spanish skills. It sucks though because the host family costs $200-250 bucks more per month. I was told it's more because the host family provides you with meals. That's true, but I think rent would cost less than an apartment because you're taking up a free room in a house and they don't have to rent some place for you. Something to consider.
If you decide to come, remember to take time to travel! There are many beautiful places to see and visit in Chile, Argentina and beyond. Some highlights for me were Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires, El Chalten, El Calafate and Bariloche in Argentina and Torres del Paine in Chile.
Here is the evaluation:
INTERN’S WORK & EXPERIENCE EVALUATION
Name:
Andy
City / Country:
Vina del Mar, Chile
Organization Name:
Adelanate/International Center – and the Catholic University of Valparaiso
Supervisor:
Javier - International Center Fernando – Catholic University of Valparaiso
Evaluation Period:
Start Date: 1/11
End Date: 2/26
Year: 2010
Total number of hours worked during this evaluation period: 140
Directions: Please evaluate your experience objectively using the scale shown here:
E - Excellent
S - Satisfactory
U - Unsatisfactory
A – Above Average
N – Needs improvement
N/A – Not applicable
Arrival / Language Coursework RATING
COMMENTS, EXAMPLES
Pre-departure Counseling and Orientation: S to E
Kimberly always seemed busy and rushed on the phone, but I felt she was thorough and direct.
Airport (or train or bus station) pick – up service: E
The driver was there at the airport and very polite, even gave us a Chile history course on the way to Vina from the airport.
In-country Orientation or Orientation at Language School: N
Oscar gave us a brief overview of some rules about the host families, apartments, classes and internships. Seemed to assume we would all be hung over for our internships and said it’s not good if we don’t show up.
I think giving more information about everything would be more helpful. For instance: where’s a good place to get money, to exchange money, this is how taxis/buses/subway work and how much they cost, here’s a good medical clinic to go to if you have problems, this is how you light the oven in the house, call me or call this person if there’s a problem or an emergency. Things like that.
For instance when living at the apartment we ran out of gas for the stove and hot water. No one knew it ran off of a propane tank or how to change it. This happened on a Friday afternoon so we couldn’t cook or take hot showers until the following week after I told someone at the school about it.
Intensive Language Coursework: U & N
I was very disappointed with the Spanish courses at the International Center to the say the least. I have studied Spanish in Peru and Guatemala previously and this was the worst. My teacher was Christian.
We watched a lot of movies (some included pornography), we learned countless ways to describe how drunk you are, we learned a lot of Chilenismos, read a bit and did exercise after exercise. We didn’t study or learn the rules of the language. If the class didn’t understand something right away the teacher would get frustrated and move on to something else saying we would learn about it tomorrow. Then the following day he would give us a worksheet on it and tell us to do it at home. At times each student had to give an example, but if they didn’t understand the exercise he would just skip them instead of helping them make sense of what we were doing. One time he tried to teach us pronombres, which was different then we had all studied previously. We spent maybe half the class on it, but then the next day Jennifer came in to the class and told us to forget what we learned because it was not correct and then proceeded to teach us the right way, which we all understood within about 30 minutes.
The bad thing about the Spanish program is they only have two teachers, Christian and Francesca. Thus, every month they split the students in to two groups; those who can speak some Spanish and those who can’t or very little. Unfortunately, Spanish levels cannot be divided up so easily. This made for a wide range of student abilities in each class. And maybe since I was placed in the upper class the teacher assumed we all knew things like the subjunctive or pronombres and so on. This was not the case though for me or others. I would have liked to learn the rules of the language and have been given some guidance on how to use each tense and when to use them.
Movies in the classroom are a waste of time to me. I can understand a short clip or something to reinforce a subject, but to watch a two hour movie and be told to write down phrases or words you don’t know is pointless. This is something I can do at home or anywhere. Movies could be available to students for after school activities if elected to do so, but not shown in the classroom. I paid a lot of money, I shouldn’t be watching movies.
I thought classes were half the day, meaning 4 hours. However they were from 1:00pm until 4:15pm everyday with a half hour break, so we were only in the classroom for 2:45 minutes every day. I think this should be stated up front in the program so you know what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.
During the Spanish classes Ellie from Adelante checked in with me to see how things were going. I told her my frustrations with the classes and received no response to my complaints. I also talked with Jennifer at the International Center and she tried to get us private classes with her, but Oscar wouldn’t allow it to happen without additional money being paid.
Also, I heard Jennifer at the International Center has a degree in Spanish, but she does not teach regularly. She taught us briefly one day and was very effective and clear. I know she’s busy with internships and taking care of student needs, but more teachers with her ability would help greatly. Plus having more than two teachers would be great. I believe the International Center has this for their English programs.
Excursions: S
We went on an excursion every week for the first three weeks. We took a tour of Valparaiso, went to a winery and went on a zipline tour outside of Vina. These programs were enjoyable to me, clearly lined up and organized. They did not cost any additional money outside of what we paid for the program fee to Adelante.
Intern Advisor / Internship Work Assignment
Training & Company Orientation: S
Both of my internships started with a brief interview with the main person I would be working with through the program.
Plus, I was able to start one of my internships early. I started working the second week I was in Chile while still attending Spanish classes. I felt this was great and helped start the immersion process quicker and it was nice to have a fuller day. I know most interns don’t start until week four, but I would recommend starting earlier if possible.
Gained career/professional knowledge: S
I was able to work in a couple different areas and with programs I had not worked with previously. Fortunately, some of the programs were new to the company as well so I felt I was able to contribute and help out in some capacity. The best thing was being able to work with native, Spanish speakers and being able to practice and listen. Both my ‘bosses’ were very helpful and patient.
Learned cultural information / International experience: S
I felt like I learned a lot during my second internship at the International Center because we didn’t always have work to do, but this gave me time to talk with my supervisor Javier and learn more about him, his family and a little about the Chilean culture in general. It was especially interesting since Javier was originally from Argentina and really seemed to renounce his roots and claim to be 110% Chilean.
A few things I learned were that the youth of Chile had no interest in politics including the Presidential Election going on around us, there seemed to be a lot of animosity between Chile and Argentina from a long history over land disputes and so forth, and that Chile would like to be the top Chilean country in Latin America if not the world. They definitely have a stronger work ethic than any other Latin country I’ve visited and appear to be more developed and better off for it. The police are not corrupt, Chile is generally safe and there is very little poverty.
Intern Advisor personal interview & assistance: S
I think this question is referring to Jennifer at the International Center.
Jennifer was always very helpful and responsive. I personally did not have any problems with my internships, but I saw her act quickly with others when they had a problem or need.
Accommodations
Housing – neighborhood, public transport, etc: S
My girlfriend and I lived in with a host family for the first month and in a shared house the second month.
The host family was very welcoming, had a pretty big house and was willing to talk with us and help us with our Spanish. They weren’t always around, but meals were always there and we had the opportunity to try some authentic Chilean cuisine. This option definitely helped with our Spanish. I would encourage others to take this route because if you live with other native English speakers in the shared house you will speak English.
The shared house was basic and had enough to get by. It kind of reminded me of a frat house. It was comfortable and centrally located to everything such as the beach, buses, main plaza, the metro and so forth.
All of Vina del Mar felt safe. We were out late at night on occasion and never felt threatened or anything like that.
Public transportation was easy and cheap to use.
Housing – cleanliness, roommates / owner, amenities: S
The shared house was clean enough. Once a week a person would come and check on things, clean the kitchen floor, take garbage out and change bed linens. Anything else like the living room or bathrooms were left to us.
We were lucky and had really good roommates. Everyone respected one another, cleaned up after themselves and liked hanging out together. We’ve kept in touch with our roommates since then and it sounds like this didn’t continue. So I feel fortunate to have had such a good experience while there.
Amenities were basic.
How did this experience affect your educational or professional plans? (check one)
q Confirmed Plans q Changed plans þ Other (explain) I did this to help improve my Spanish skills. At my current job we have many international employees. At times we have even had interns from Colombia or other Latin countries. I hope this helps improve communication with them and get a better understanding of what they go through while abroad in the States.
What would you consider the best aspects of this international experience?
The best aspects were living with a host family and working with Chileans. This provided the best opportunity to learn about their customs and ways of life. Even though it seemed to be discouraged during the interview process, I would recommend that everyone live with a host family for the above reason and to gain more exposure to Spanish. When I studied Spanish in Peru and Guatemala the school always encouraged a host family, I don’t even think an apartment was possible unless you set it up on your own.
What would you consider the worst aspects of this international experience?
The worst aspect was by far the Spanish classes. I talked about this earlier in the review, but the teacher (Christian) was awful and simply could not teach. I really wonder what qualifications you need to teach at the International Center. The classes lacked structure and didn’t teach any of the rules of the language or anything for that matter. I really feel it was a large waste of time and that’s really too bad because Spanish is one of the main reason for going. My girlfriend and I ended up paying for lessons with another instructor from Valparaiso, not part of the International Center, and had a much better experience.
Overall I feel the package would have been fair if the Spanish classes would have been up to par.

Program: Study Abroad
Location: Chile
Posted: Apr 11, 2010
Overall:
6
Support:
5
Value:
5

Comments

I love this review becuase it is so even handed: there are some bad things (the Spansih classes, which are so easily "fixed") and then of course all of the good things! Learning Spanish, living abroad, having a "boss" instead of just sitting in classes, and all of the extra travel you did sounds like you made the most of your time in Chile.

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