IES Santiago study abroad program (including an internship with Livinn Santiago
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Jonathan Hayes

Major: Economics (BS) and Spanish (BS)
Hometown: York, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I researched study abroad opportunities on the PSU global office website. I knew I wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country to practice my Spanish, and quickly learned that studying in Central or South America would be cheaper than studying in Spain. I discussed my options with the study abroad advisers (in person) and also attended the study abroad fair to learn more about the IES programs in Chile and Argentina. I chatted with former students that went to Argentina and Chile to study abroad, and ultimately based my decision on their experiences and recommendations, the program description on IES's website and my personal interests (nature, learning a specific Spanish dialect, etc.).

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, from July-August 2016. There were 19 students who studied through the IES program during the semester, and a number took classes at the local Catholic university (a highly ranked and well-renowned university). I took five classes at the IES abroad center, including courses in Spanish grammar, trade theory, human rights and native cultures, and an internship seminar class. I was also an operations and marketing intern at an international real estate company, Livinn Santiago, during my time in Chile. I worked there about 10 hours a week and had coworkers from Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Puerto Rico and the US. I lived with a home stay family and commuted to the IES center and work via bus and metro (30-45 minutes each way). I frequently traveled throughout the country, including to the Atacama Desert in the North, to Chiloé in the south and to Pichilemu for 3 weeks at the end of the semester. I also had the privilege of going to an event at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago during the U.S. presidential election. Finally, I befriended many Chileans and other foreigners through an exchange student program at the local university, my travels across the country and my attendance at a local church in the city.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience opened my eyes to a different culture and way of looking at the world, from that of a global perspective. Academically, the courses were reading-intensive and challenging, but as the semester progressed and my Spanish skills improved, the classes became easier. Learning about Chile’s culture, Latin America's politics, and the development and treatment of native cultures was quite fascinating. My classes gave me an opportunity to learn about topics I would never have learned about otherwise in a class setting, and the numerous field trips we went on helped to reinforce the curriculum and learning. Most of my classes had 4 or 5 students in them, which increased my confidence and made the learning experience a lot more interactive. Thus, I feel that my experience in Chile truly taught me how to learn—in the sense that it taught me the importance of interaction and active learning in the classroom.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I desire to be an economic analyst or a consultant for an international company upon graduation from Penn State. My internship abroad showed me the challenges of working in a multicultural environment and communicating with coworkers across the globe, but only solidified my interest in traveling for a job in the future. I learned about proper communication, various Spanish dialects and efficient business strategies for international firms. I increased my confidence and communication skills from my time in Chile, which will only help me find a job in the future. My experience also confirmed I want to speak Spanish as part of whatever career I pursue. Thus, my study abroad experience clarified my career interests and goals while bettering me as a person.

"My study abroad experience clarified my career interests and goals while bettering me as a person."

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students because it guarantees personal growth, improves Spanish-communication abilities, increases confidence and gives a global perspective on life. Chile was an awesome place to study abroad because the Chilean dialect is incredibly unique and challenging to understand, and forces one to have a good grasp on the Spanish language. The courses are rigorous but quite doable, and the mountains and nature in Chile is truly awe-inspiring! I hiked, mountain biked and surfed in various parts of Chile and truly had a blast. The experience with host families is memorable and the food is delicious! Santiago's also a very safe city in general. Overall, it was a great experience that I highly recommend.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website. 
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