Semester — Spring 2019
Application deadline: July 25, 2018
In Chile you can explore the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago, the majestic Andes Mountains, the world's driest desert in the North, or the untamed wilderness of Patagonia in the South. But it’s also a haven for thinking and learning—as Nobel-prize Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said, the country is “made for poets.” This is your chance to discover beautiful natural landscapes in a place that’s also bound to educate and inspire. Experience all that Chile has to offer by living with a host family and attending a local high school for a year or semester. You’ll get to immerse yourself in everyday culture while enjoying the adventure of a lifetime!
Chileans tend to be proud of their country’s achievements. They come from a culture that celebrates customs like La Minga in the island of Chiloé, when friends and neighbors help move wooden houses or churches from one location to another, and then celebrate afterward with food and drink. Since many Chileans like to linger with family and friends, punctuality isn’t especially important. In fact, it’s common to be around 30 minutes late to a social event. You can expect to be greeted with an abrazo; this includes a handshake and a hug, followed by a kiss on the right cheek for women and family.
Your journey will begin in New York City or Miami where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation and get a crash course on Chilean language and culture. Then you’ll travel as a group to Santiago where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers.
Soon you’ll be ready to head to your new community. Along the way you’re bound to see brightly colored houses and a variety of landscapes, from rugged mountains to deserts, swamps, and beaches. You might even pass by Mapuche men (the indigenous people of Chile) playing chueca, an ancient game similar to hockey.
AFSers have lived all throughout Chile, but most host families are located in or near urban areas. Your host family will likely be friendly and warm, even if they’re a bit reserved when you first meet them – that’s pretty typical in Chilean culture.
Chilean families are some of the smallest in Latin America, with most parents having one or two children. Even so, family time is very important, and Sunday is usually set aside as a day for families to gather together and share a meal. Many families have nanas or empleadas who work aslive-in nannies or maids, but you can still expect to help your host parents around the house.See where past AFSers have lived
Teenagers in Chile generally have plenty of time for friends and extracurricular activities. They like to hang out in the town square, go to parties, and drink coffee or maté in the local café. Your Chilean friends will probably follow the national soccer team closely, since futból is the country’s favorite sport. When La Roja (“the red one”) wins, often the entire town goes out into the streets to celebrate. Besides soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, and cycling are also popular. Many teenagers like to watch TV as well, especially Mexican, Argentine, Brazilian, and Chilean soap operas. You and your friends may have the opportunity to attend one of Chile’s famous fondas (fairs), where you can taste traditional food and dance to live music late into the night.
You’ll find that most Chilean food involves fish, chicken, beef, corn, potatoes, beans, and eggs. Some popular dishes are empanadas de horno (turnovers with beef, hard-boiled eggs, onions, olives, and raisins), pastel de choclo (a baked meal of beef, chicken, onions, corn, eggs, and spices), cazuela de ave (chicken soup), ensalada chilena (cold tomato-and-onion salad), and porotos granados (butter-bean soup). Manjar, which is made by boiling a can of sweet condensed milk for hours, is a favorite spread that’s often used for baking. For a special treat on a rainy day, you can try sopaipillas, which are made with deep-fried pumpkin dough and sugar. Along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, another important Chilean meal is called onces, when you snack on tea and small sandwiches around 5 or 6 pm.
You'll most likely attend a private high school. The academic year starts in early March and lasts until mid-December, with a two-week winter vacation in June or July. Most schools have classes Monday through Friday, though you may have some on Saturday morning as well. Your typical school day will begin around 8 am and end between 4 and 6 pm. Extracurricular activities are available in schools, and you are encouraged to participate in sports, art, and volunteer projects with your classmates.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.