Chile, ¿cachaí?

For all who were wondering, “¿cachaí?” is a Chilean slang term that usually means something along the lines of “Got it?” They use it all the time.

I am pre-med student working on the Spanish portion of my Kinesiology-Spanish double major this semester at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Valparaíso, Chile. I wanted to study abroad because this is one of the only chances I will have in my lifetime to live in a foreign country for half a year and receive financial help from outside organizations while still working towards my career goals. I have been studying Spanish for several years but have reached the point where I needed to be immersed in the language to fully understand it. My desire is to be fluent in both Spanish and English, and I am working on gaining that fluency in Chile.

A view of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar with the Andes in the background

I chose to study through ISA’s Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, Chile program because I wanted to study in a Spanish-speaking South American country, and Experiential Learning Abroad Programs (ELAP) has a Public Clinic volunteer program in Chile and not in some of the other countries. It is very hard to set up hospital volunteer programs in the States, and would be even more difficult in a country in which there are language and culture barriers. ELAP made it easy for me to start volunteering in the Consultorio Esperanza within two weeks of my arrival in Chile, and while I have only been working there for two weeks now, I have already learned so much about medicine, Spanish, and the Chilean culture.

I am excited to learn more at the Consultorio and in my everyday life here. I am also planning trips to visit different parts of Chile, Argentina, and Peru while I am here. I miss my family and friends in the States, but I can talk to them using the internet and have worked hard to maintain good communication with everyone. I hope that by the end of my program in late November I will be fluent in Spanish, be extremely well-travelled, have friends from all over the world, and understand more about different cultures. I already feel like Chile is my second home.

Katy Lichtsinn is a student at Arizona State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, Chile.

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