I am a Spanish major in school, and as part of my major I get to study abroad (score!) for a semester to a year. My dilemma is that I don't want to go to Spain, as I've already visited there and really would like to travel to South America. Right now Chile is my top choice, but I need some help. Is Chile a safe place to travel to, let alone live in for 6 months to a year? How safe is it compared to other Latin American countries? Does anyone have any other recommendations? Thanks so much for your help!
I think Chile is about the safest country in S.A., but I'm not sure cause I haven't been yet... Have done a lot of research though since I'm going pretty soon!! They have this really stable economy, they don't have all those tropical diseases you might find elsewhere, etc. My cousin was studying Spanish in Santiago a couple of years ago and he enjoyed it a lot!
I know a lot of people go on exchange programs to Venezuela too, but I'm not sure whether Caracas is actually a safe city.
On my required study abroad trip I went to Ecuador with a group from my college. Becuase I loved it so much I am going back alone for 5-6 months. I really liked the Academia that I studied at and I felt safe there. You have to be careful but no more careful than you would be if you moved to New York alone for 6 months.
That was pretty helpful, thanks a ton.
Chile is a very nice country and a great place to live in, but more expensive than let´s say Argentina or Bolivia. I suppose youre interested in a place with University careers, but beware that Santiago is a very polluted city, and not extremely nice (to say the least).
I could recommend you Bariloche, Argentina... Also no bugs, hardly any crime, and beautiful scenery. -snip-
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Excellent question. I DID study Spanish for my bachelors in Spain. But wanting to get a grasp on South American Spanish, I've spent the last 10 months in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.
After living in each of these countries for two to three months each, hands down, in my opinion, Bolivia is the place to study. Bolivia is a cheap place to live, it IS safe (the political disruptions have largely calmed down) and the Spanish is georgous. The language there is clean, pure and easy to understand. I HIGHLY disagree with any suggestions to study in Chile, unless you only want to speak with Chileans ever again. They have a Spanish that is very localized, with slang words no one else uses, and they talk with marbles in their mouths. I had a hard time understanding them with a significant Spanish background.
I back my words with action, I'm planning to return to Sucre, Cochabamba or Santa Cruz to do my masters in Spanish. I'm not planning to study in La Paz simply because it is so high and cold, I'm a warmer climate person. If you want any more info about Bolivia, reply and I'll add what more I can. I've become Bolivia's biggest spokesperson, Bolivia is awesome.
After rereading your first entry, I realize you have your heart set on Chile. Yes, it's very safe, it's the most developed country in South America. Thus, you will spend twice as much money in Chile as in Bolivia, this is no exaggeration. And you can't imagine the Santiago pollution that SINFRONTER mentioned, it's that bad. I'm not a Chile-phobe, I loved it. But these are my opinions after spending 2.5 months there.
Thank you so much for that information on Bolivia and Argentina, I will definitely look more into both of those countries! I didn't realize Santiago was such a polluted and unpleasant place to be, so I will probably change my destination now. Thanks again
Ok, ok, as a Chilean i have to say something.. if you do want to learn spanish... as hard as it is to me to say.. dont come to Chile...
You will probably wont understand us in the beginning, and the accent is.. different, by far, if you do want to learn spanish, the good and nice spanish, try Bolivia, Peru or the north of SA (yeah, a Chilean saying to go to study in Bolivia, dont tell other Chileans..).
Its also, by far, the safest country of all, and the economy is the best of all, but again, are you studying economics? ITs very expensive compare to other countries in SA (Still cheap to EU though), but you will probably spend half or even less in other places.
We also do have very good schools in here, and the pollution is not very nice, is not as bad as in Mexico city, but still, compared to other places is bad.
Still, its a very nice city where i live, a lot, and i mean a lot of things to do and to go, but Chile.. is not really Southamerica, is totally different than the other countries.
the Unrest in Bolivia is now over, for now, you never know if it might happen again, and they have elections soon (end of year), so maybe try Venezuela. I dont know how things are over there, but a friend from Norway that studied there 2 times in the last 5 years told me that the situation about crime and stuff has been getting worse (he said its totally different as 5 years ago, and pretty dangerouse).
Maybe you should also look Argentina, they also have a different accent and slang, but its beautiful, really, and probably half the price than in Chile.
Hope it was useful, any more help, drop me a line.
(yeah, a Chilean saying to go to study in Bolivia, dont tell other Chileans..).
I heard you...
But I must agree, the bolivian accent is beautyful and clean, versus the way we talk.
In the other hand, I've heard turist saying Santiago is beautyful... and after some years living in here I still don't know why. My country is very very beautyful, but santiago is not a place to live, not to choose to live at least. Count with me leaving here the same second I could.
Something I forgot to say...
Chile is more than Santiago, if you really want to come, Concepción and Temuco are, by example, large and nice cities where you probably could find good schools.
About money, I recently come back from Peru, and the prices were almost the same. Don't know about other countries. If you use Euros will be fine but the dollar has devaluated the last year.
About safety, yes, is probably one of the most safer places of the zone... an earthquake or two, but that happens, jejeje. Seriusly talking, very little things are still frontpage in the newspapers, 'cause nothing really important happens.