Study abroad in Chile was the most unforgettable experience in my life! This winter study abroad (Chile: Doing Business in Emerging Markets) provided me with a lot of hands-on experiences in different business fields, in which I was much interested in learning. By taking classes with Chilean students, we, Binghamton students, were able to learn about the Chilean culture more holistically. Also, meeting with local business professionals allowed us to have various discussions with them in different subjects – from politics and economy to business in Chile.
Every Chilean person I met was very friendly and eager to help me navigate the city of Santiago. One day, I got lost in the middle of a street, and could not find the subway station that I was looking for. A Chilean woman came up to me and took me directly to the subway stop, and told me which direction I should go and how many stops I should take to my final destination. It took her 10 minutes (!) to explain all these things to me. The nightlife in Santiago was fantastic! It is no exaggeration to say that a day in Chile does not start until the sunset. Because Chilean people usually do not want to work until late, most shops close relatively early, around 4~6 PM.
I found this trip to be very meaningful to me. Firstly, this was a great opportunity for me to get to know other Binghamton students from different academic backgrounds. During the past semesters at Binghamton, I seldom had a chance to mingle with “American” students as I tended to only hang out with my own ethnic, Chinese, clique. However, during this program, I hung out and ate with both “American” students from Binghamton as as well as Chilean students, exchanging our different cultures with one another. We would exclaim whenever we found something totally different in what we do and think in our daily lives. For instance, when saying goodbye to a friend, Chileans would kiss each other’s cheeks, whereas Americans would often give a big hug and Chinese people would simply shake hands or give a soft hug.
Though the program only lasted about two weeks, I learned how to act independently in a country where I have never been, from exchanging money to local currency to becoming familiar with local transportation. I would definitely go back to Chile, especially Santiago, again as two weeks were actually too short for me to see every part of Chile – possibly spend two year in Chile? 🙂 It was really difficult for me to say goodbye to the Chilean friends I made during the program. I cannot forget the moments we spent together, especially when they invited us to their house and treated us as if we were their family. If I ever get a chance to revisit Chile, I would travel all parts of Chile, from south to north, with these friends. (But before I go there the second time, I will learn Spanish first!)
Xiaowei Xu, a graduate Accounting student who studied abroad in Santiago, Chile in winter 2016