Back to SummaryChristie Brydon - Student Advisor Profile
Deciding to study abroad in Santiago was not difficult for me. I knew I had to study abroad in order to be fully satisfied with my Stanford experience and escaping the harsh Stanford winter in favor of a hot summer quarter in Santiago seemed like a no-brainer. Little did I know, that quarter would not only improve my Spanish and push me out of my comfort zone, but it would also introduce me to some of my new best friends and make me appreciate Stanford even more than I already did.
My most pressing concerns about spending three months in Chile revolved around my host family and my vegetarianism. My host mother ended up being one of my favorite and most valuable parts of the program, and she cooked me excellent vegetarian food. Although I slowly realized that she is nearly fluent in English, I never heard her speak a single sentence of it. She listened with incredible patience when I stumbled through Spanish and helped me with vocabulary and grammar whenever I needed it. Knowing that she had faith in me and was dedicated to my improvement helped boost my own motivation to become fluent. When I first arrived at Bernadita’s doorstep and got a tour of the house, she took me out to see a live orchestra perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at an outdoor amphitheater outside of Museo de la Memoria. Truly, a night I will never forget. Her desire to introduce me to the sights and sounds of Santiago made me feel taken care of and at home. Needless to say, there were a lot of tears when I had to say good-bye three months later.
When I applied to the BOSP Santiago program, I applied by myself and had no idea who else would be going. During our orientation weekend at a hotel in Santiago, we quickly became acquainted with one another and started planning weekend trips and explorations around the city. The time that we spent together in classes, eating lunch in the locker room of the Stanford center, and on field trips brought us together within a matter of days. Classes were small enough that we all felt comfortable speaking up in discussion, even when we were struggling to climb over the language barrier. I also got to know my professors well—one of them even gave us a tour of Barrio Yungay, one of Santiago’s oldest neighborhoods! The city looked so much more interesting and familiar through a local’s eyes. Classes really helped me understand Chile better than I would have on my own, with insight on history, politics, food, and attitudes towards issues such as class, same-sex marriage, education, abortion, and family.
Outside of class, I spent a lot of time walking around the city, discovering new pockets of Santiago, testing restaurants, taking pictures of sculptures, and reading in parks. With the subway, buses, and bike rental stations, getting around was incredibly easy. Although I preferred to walk as much as I could, I rarely had trouble getting anywhere on my own. This made it easy to visit all the museums and neighborhoods that I wanted to see, and I quickly started checking off all of the must-see sights of the city. We even found buses that took us to the beach and to Argentina! Chile certainly has an excellent public transportation system to make traveling possible. My host mother also helped a lot in highlighting the most interesting places and the fastest ways to get there, so I knew I was getting better advice than a travel guidebook.
I miss the excitement of living in a new city, the challenge of speaking Spanish, the taste of fresh empanadas, and the conversations with my host mother—my quarter in Santiago will stay with me forever. Although everyone inevitably faces some difficulties with adjusting to Chile or any new environment, I spent my last day walking around my neighborhood with tears in my eyes. Santiago is truly a special place with a bright future ahead, and I hope that many Stanford students will get the opportunity to see that!