Name: Andrew S.
Program: UMSL exchange at Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso
Major: Economics w/ Spanish minor
Term Abroad: Fall of Senior year
My name is Andrew. I’m 22 years old, a Senior here at UMSL, and I just finished my Study Abroad experience in Valparaiso, Chile. To start off, I want to say that if you’re thinking about studying abroad, do it! Being in Chile is an experience that I will never forget because of the lessons that I learned and the friends that I made.
I attended the Pontificial Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso in Valparaiso, Chile. They offer courses in both English and Spanish in their quickly growing international program. As an economics major with a focus in Spanish and international business, PUCV was the perfect fit for me! I took 4 classes that ranged from History of Economics to Chilean Communication and Culture-all in Spanish. My economics class was an overview for me because the class was a basic class, but I did learn economics from a South American viewpoint. As a United States citizen, Im accustomed to the brands and businesses that interact with my life being American. In Chile, it's the opposite; We talked a lot about the Us in the class and how Chilean companies were actually American now because of acquisitions. In my History of Valparaiso class, I learned about the city that I called home for almost five months. We would discuss how the city began as a port community and grew to importance in the 19th century because of its unique position along South America; it would later lose significance because of the Panama Canal. I learned about the rejuvenated economy because of the growth of tourism and economic stability within South America. What I liked about that class was the tours we got of the city and explanations about specific periods of time at the location that they occurred
While down there, I was able to take a few trips around South America. I went to Argentina three times(Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Cordoba), La Serena in Chile, and Santiago, Chile. My favorite was my trip to Buenos Aires because the city is unlike any city I’ve been to. From the food, to the people in Argentina, I loved it! While there, I also had time to practice a different type of Spanish because every country has their own version of Spanish. A lot of people say that Chileans don’t speak Spanish, they speak Chileno and its similar in Argentina. Their Spanish has a strong Spanish influence and it is obvious with the conjugations and words they use.
For anyone studying abroad, I have three bits of advice. First, don’t choose the safe route. Studying abroad is about meeting new people and doing things you may never get to do again. Don’t stay quiet because you think you’re going to mess up what your saying. Don't say“ no” because you’ve never tried something. Say yes and go into the unknown! Second, don’t be close-minded. Being in another country is life changing, but its also a privilege. You are walking those streets as a guest and don’t understand what occurs there year-round. Be respectful and try to learn about the culture and problems that occur in the community. Last, have fun! Studying abroad is about the educational benefits, but it should still be fun. Travel, meet new people, and make the most of your time. Four months may seem like a long time, but it goes by quick!
I would like to thank UMSL, PUCV, and everybody that helped me take that journey. Because of the ample scholarship opportunities, I was able to learn about a country and culture I had never thought about. Chile has a strong national pride and amazing people. I cant tell you the amount of times that said sorry to people because my Spanish wasn't’t that good, but they would tell me that it comes with practice. I’m incredibly proud that I took the plunge and applied because I will never have an opportunity like that again. I highly recommend the experience to anyone because you won’t be the same afterwards—I'm not!
¡Nos vemos Chile!