In this series of interviews with current and former study abroad students, This is Chile has the word straight from the horse’s mouth: classes, friends, travel, language – it’s all here.
Each year, thousands of students wing their way to Chile for the chance to study at one of the region’s leading universities, polish their Spanish, and travel one of the world’s best natural playgrounds.
Today we talk to Robin Clutters, from Syracuse University in the United States.
Highlights from the classroom
The International Relations major spent four months in Chile, taking Spanish classes and a course on U.S.-Chilean relations during her studies at the Universidad Católica, Chile’s highest-ranking university.
“My favorite academic experience was probably in the political science course I took. Although it was really difficult, I enjoyed taking a class on U.S.-Chilean relations from the Chilean perspective. There’s no way I would ever be able to take a class like that in the United States.”
Learning Spanish, Chilean style
Every study abroad student travels his or her own bumpy road along the idiosyncrasies of the Chilean idiom. Chile’s former geographic isolation and the linguistic influences of the indigenous language Mapudungún have created a treasure trove of expressions, popular sayings, and a very distinctive accent.
So what was Robin’s favorite “chilenismo”? Fomingo.
A mix of the words for boring – fome – and Sunday – domingo -, fomingo is the ingenious Chilean expression to sum up all that weekend listlessness on the most relaxed day of the week, before kicking back into high gear on Monday morning.
“I remember being bored very frequently on my Sundays in Chile and so it seemed like the perfect word for that day of the week. Now if I ever find myself bored on a Sunday, I end up telling people it’s fomingo… of course, they don’t understand me!”
For a list of ways to spice up your Sundays and avoid a fomingo, check out some of the many cultural attractions in Santiago, or connect with people back home at one of these student-friendly spots with free wi-fi. Alternatively, kick back and enjoy your fomingo, Chilean-style, with one of these great Chilean reads.
The best of Chile, on a student’s budget
“I loved visiting Valparaíso!” Robin says. The bohemian port city is a quick bus ride from Santiago, and hosts its own burgeoning population of study abroad students at language institutes and top-ranked universities, like the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. And true to its port-city vibe, “Valpo” is famous for its wild and varied nightlife, while nearby Viña del Mar also boasts a string of seaside clubs and bars popular with students.
“My friends and I visited several times and had more fun every time we visited,” Robin continues. “I think the huge nightclub, El Huevo, is still the best club I’ve ever been to in the world.”
Little pearls of wisdom
For all the academic insight and the travel adventures, Robin still says her favorite take-away was much more personal: “The best thing that came out of my experience in Chile was the friendships I made with Chileans.”
Her advice for the newly-arrived? “Get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there! Don’t only hang out with your fellow study abroad students. It can be hard to meet Chileans at first, but once you do it’s well worth it.”
Looking to make some new friends? Try out for a sports team, join a hiking club, or start volunteering! See more study abroad tips, here.