Why every “almost” college graduate should study in Chile

Maggie Lowenberg is a student at the University of Colorado, Boulder and an ISA Featured Blogger. Maggie is currently studying abroad in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Fall 1 program.

Attention world travelers: I am here to inform you that Chile is by far the most unique and glorious place I have ever visited or lived. While I’ve only traveled a hand full of places globally, Chile’s landscape, culture, and history has been keeping me on my toes for the past two months. Everyday I learn something new and feel dumbfounded I have the opportunity to spend my last semester of my undergraduate career in Chile. Before I begin blogging about specific adventures, I’d like to begin by telling you how I arrived in Valparaiso, Chile and what I have been learning:

Why did I choose Chile?

I chose to study abroad in Chile because I am fascinated by Chile’s political history, diverse landscape, and to advance my Spanish. After spending four incredible years studying at the University of Colorado in Boulder, I decided to spend my “victory-lap” abroad. Knowledge is not just built inside a classroom, but also, cultivated through our experiences and interactions abroad.

The mountains of Portillo, how beautiful!

What is so unique about the landscape in Chile?

Chile stretches over 2,500 miles along the Pacific coast of South America. Since Chile is situated along a convergent boundary (where an oceanic plate and land plate collide), the landscape that has formed in Chile is diverse everywhere you turn. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Northern Chile in the Atacama region where volcanic activity millions of years ago left the land dry, rocky, and quite unique. While biking at Valle de Luna, I thought I was venturing into a different world because the crystallized rocks were unlike anything I ever witnessed.

Valle de Luna bike riding along the picture perfect rock formations.

Why is Chile’s political history so important for Americans?

It’s not just the landscape that makes Chile so unique. If your a social science nerd like myself, you’d appreciate learning about Chile’s recent political history. I have learned so much about Chile’s former military regime by visiting Santiago’s Presidential Palace, speaking with congressmen at the Congreso Nacional in Valparaiso, and watching recent political movies with my Chilean host family. Every person I meet provides a personal anecdote that demonstrates how the recent political history has shaped current Chilean culture.

ISA group with Diputado Tucapel Jiménez Fuentes at Congreso Nacional.

What has been my favorite experience so far?

This is a question a lot of my friends and family have asked me since my arrival two months ago. I must honestly answer, I’m not sure! Maybe it was my experience skiing alongside members of the U.S. ski team at Portillo. Or maybe my experience sandboarding at the sand dunes of Con Con. However, I think it is the  simplistic events such as having conversations in Spanish with my new Chilean friends or laughing hysterically at my attempts to learn salsa that truly make me appreciate my experiences in Chile.

Sunset with friends at San Pedro, Atacama.

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