Noemi Salas-Rivera '21
Program: Chile Fall Semester
Major: Political Science, Hispanic Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to challenge myself to look at the world differently and to get out of my comfort zone. Chile is one of the few programs that pairs you with a host family which I knew would give me the most authentic experience. Truly it was because I knew the least about the country and I wanted to learn A LOT!
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
There were many, but my personal favorite was during Fiestas Patrias week. We learned how to dance La Cueca (their national dance) which is not as easy as I thought. One of my class projects that week was to prepare a Chilean dessert to share with the class. My group and I made 'mote con huesillo' and filmed the process. My host mom showed me how to make empanadas which we then shared with her son and his family. Our group also went to the 'ramadas' which is like a big carnival/festival with food stands, live music, games, and other entertainment!
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I absolutely loved everything about studying abroad. Living with a host family allowed me to fully integrate into the lifestyle of Chileans and try new foods. I learned a lot from my host mom, the friends I made through my volunteer site and at school.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
There are many benefits to studying abroad whether it is for five weeks or five months. I believe that it changes your outlook on the world because you see it through a new lens. The Spanish in Chile is different and somewhat difficult to understand at first, but it is a great program if you want to improve your skills.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do not be afraid to apply, start saving money early, and challenge yourself!
I applied during the second round of applications and I think one of the biggest things that held me back was fear. I was afraid to leave my family, scared of living in a new country, and scared of not knowing anyone in the program. The truth is everyone is scared of something, but what made it better is that we had a very supportive group. Not knowing most of the group also gave us a lot to talk about and by the end, we all became a small Chile family!