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Chile is the longest north-south country in the world. It stretches over 4,630 kilometres north to south, but only 430 kilometres at its widest point east to west. This encompasses a remarkable variety of landscapes from the northern Atacama Desert to the southern labyrinth coast of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. The relatively small Central Valley, which includes Santiago, dominates the country in terms of population and agricultural resources. This area is also the historical center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century, when it integrated the northern and southern regions. Chile owns the famous Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island, more than 600 kilometres from the mainland, in the Juan Fernández Islands.
Chile is not only surprising in its landscapes and climates but also in its rich culture. Chileans call their country, país de poetas, country of poets. Gabriela Mistral was the first Latin American to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945. Chile's most famous poet, however, is Pablo Neruda, who also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 and is world-renowned for his extensive library of works on romance, nature, and politics. His three highly personalized homes, located in Isla Negra, Santiago and Valparaíso are popular tourist destinations.
Chileans are also very fond of sports. Chile's most popular sport is soccer but tennis is Chile's most successful sport winning many medals in diverse tournaments throughout times. A sport similar to hockey called chueca was already played by the Mapuche people during the Spanish conquest.
At last but not least, living in Chile is an invitation to new savors. Chilean cuisine is a reflection of the country's topographical variety, featuring an assortment of seafood, beef, fruits, and vegetables. Traditional recipes include asado, cazuela, empanadas, humitas, pastel de choclo, pastel de papas, curanto and sopaipillas. Crudos is an example of the mixture of culinary contributions from the various ethnic influences in Chile. The raw minced llama, heavy use of shellfish and rice bread were taken from native Quechua Andean cuisine, (although now beef brought to Chile by Europeans is also used in place of the llama meat), lemon and onions were brought by the Spanish colonists, and the use of mayonnaise and yogurt was introduced by German immigrants, as was beer. Enjoy your stay in Chile!
Family is one of the most important aspects for the Chilean. There is always a close contact between the family and the members of the larger families. Children generally get to know their cousins well, as much adult leisure time, generally on weekends and holidays, is spent in the company of relatives. The participant will be involved as close as their host brothers and sisters.
The host family will care of you like your natural parents and include you in all free time activities and day trips. You will have the opportunity to relish the Chilean cuisine and the typical Chilean “asados” (barbecues). Furthermore you will experience everything a Chilean does. Not only you will discover a new lifestyle but also a new family and become acquainted with another culture.
Chilean teenagers get up early in the morning and have breakfast (coffee, milk, toasts and butter). Then, they go to the school around 7:00 or 7:30. Lucky ones are dropped off by their parents, especially those whose parents work early in the morning. Others usually take the bus, and some others go on foot or by bike, which is not very usual in Chile.
Before starting the classes every day, there is a kind of ritual that is important to know: “El saludo de la Bandera”. This means that once all students are in the main hall remaining silent and in order, two students hoist the Chilean flag and in some schools, the national anthem is also sung. After hoisting the flag, the students go to their classrooms where classes are held according to the different subjects.
In some schools, working with projects is usual, that is to say, that the same topic is dealt in different subjects at the same time. A class generally lasts 45 minutes followed by a break. At mid-morning a longer break is taken. There are schools where classes are held from the morning until the afternoon, especially bilingual schools. In this case, the students have lunch at school. Otherwise, they come back home to have lunch. There is always a time, either lunch or dinner, when the family get together to share a meal. After having lunch, children usually do their own activities such as studying, resting or preparing themselves for some of the extra activities taken out of the school environment. Some of the most common activities are studying languages, doing theatre, going to the gym as well as practicing basketball, volleyball, soccer, hockey and rugby. Also dances are popular among young people, Hip Hop, Jazz and Ballet.
STS exchange students (5 and 10 months program) will have a Welcome Workshop immediately after their arrival. This workshop is very important to introduce them to Latin American culture and Spanish language. It is aimed to reduce the cultural shock when they meet their families. When the Welcome Workshop ends, the participants will meet their host families. Our office partner in Chile counts on experienced area reps that support the participants and host families in everyday life issues during the program to ensure a wonderful year for families and cultural exchange participants in Chile. Optional activities and trips are also offered throughout the year.