I chose UAI, the partner institution, because I wanted to go to a country where I could learn Spanish in South America. It was out of Colombia or Chile but I felt that Chile might be safer, and also offers more as far as natural beauty. This definitely turned out to be true! Chile was an absolutely stunning country to travel. From the beautiful desert in the north, to the misty lakes region and mystic island of Chiloé, to majestic Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park in the south. As I was overseas from the start of July to the start of February, I also spent time in the States, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina.
I took a Spanish course one night a week for 6 months before going to Chile but it was NOT ENOUGH. Nothing can prepare you for Chilean Spanish – it is the worst of all Spanish. It is extremely quick, they don’t pronounce many consonants in words and they have a lot of slang. If I could do one thing different it would be not just to study Spanish before going but LISTEN and WATCH Chilean Spanish in movies, TV shows, youtube clips, podcasts. At least just Google some common Chilean phrases! You can know “textbook perfect Spanish” but this will not help you with the Chileans. However, once you get the hang of it you will love the Chileanismos and it’s fun using them everyday. Best to incorporate as many into your speech as possible so you don’t just sound like a clueless gringo, and trust me they appreciate it.