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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Alison in Chile

Alison Cooperrider ’20, a double major in Business and Spanish, is studying at la Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta, Chile.

Hola! My name is Alison Cooperrider and I am a senior studying Spanish at la Universidad Católica del Norte in Antofagasta, Chile through the ISEP program. While last semester I studied abroad in Seville, Spain, this has been a completely different and eye-opening experience! Although I arrived here only two weeks ago, I have adapted rather fast. I am living with a host family that also has six other Chilean students living in their house, and it has been nice to live with both family and friends. We also live a block away from the beach, so I go as often as I can. Before leaving for Chile, I was told to prepare myself for very fast Spanish and a completely different vocabulary to that I am accustomed. It’s true! Chileans talk very fast and say “po” and “cachai” almost every other word. This can make the classroom experience a little difficult. I am still adapting to the speed and accent of my professors, but I’m sure that it will be easier after a couple more weeks. Something that has been very difficult to adjust to is the “go with the flow” attitude of the education system here. Often times professors will not show up to classes or classes will be canceled, which is not what I am used to at Lake Forest College. Usually, a canceled class means going to my favorite café or to the beach-not a bad way to live life! Another situation that I’ve had to work through has to do with my visa. Although I had begun the visa process months in advance, I ran into problems which prevented me from getting a student visa while in the US. After arriving in Chile, the program coordinator and I worked with a lawyer, and now I have to wait two months for my application to be approved for a visa. It has been frustrating and stressful, but needless to say, I have gained a lot of experience working with both the government and the university. I am grateful that there is an international student exchange group on campus that I am able to share my experiences with. From going to beaches to hiking in the desert hills, we have already started exploring Antofagasta. Plans are also being made to fly to Santiago, the capital, for a music festival and to take a bus to La Serena, wine country, for my 21st birthday. Recently, I even signed up to do NGO volunteering in neighborhoods here in Antofagasta since I am interested in working with NGOs after graduating from LFC. I look forward to even more opportunities that may come my way. Ps. Thanks to the off-campus programs for making it possible for me to fly to Chile (which isn’t cheap!) with the airfare award! Gracias y chao!