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UC Chile Study Abroad Programs:

When Learning Spanish Becomes an Immersive Experience in Chile

Intercultural Approaches, Apacheta, Spanish in Chile and Global Start Up are some of the programs that have gathered more than 132 international students, enhancing interculturality and the development of global competences in its participants.

Group of students participating in the Intercultural Approaches for Public Health.

photo_camera Photo: a group of students from the program Intercultural Approaches for Public Health.

Within the diverse activities and experiences offered by the Office of Global Mobility of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, the Study Abroad Programs are highlighted for its design with the aim of attracting students from other countries to learn about the richness of Chilean and Latin American culture, through activities such as, cultural and academic experiences, field observations, among others.

Cristián Bonilla, Head of Study Abroad and International Internships from the Office of Global Mobility, explains that through these programs, the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs seeks to:

“Provide all the necessary tools so students become global citizens, who can have a positive impact in their communities by acquiring knowledge of other contexts and culture, while having the opportunity to enjoy important places in Chile”.

Likewise, these experiences become an intercultural learning opportunity, where both sides can have an understanding of each other.

“The aim is for students to have a global view of what they are learning, and at the same time, for us to learn from them and their experiences at their home countries and universities”, added Cristián Bonilla.

The UC Chile Study Abroad Programs have had a positive impact in the international student community, along with the way in which UC Chile engages with its international partners. Only in 2023, 132 students had the opportunity to participate and explore Chile through different perspectives.

Among its participants, there are students coming from universities such as, The University of Auckland, University of Birmingham, Australian Catholic University, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The University of Nottingham, University of California, among others.

Cultural Immersion for international students at UC Chile

Group of students participating in Spanish in Chile 2023.
Photo: a group of students from the program “Spanish in Chile” 2023, visiting San Francisco Garden at the UC Chile San Joaquin Campus.

The program Spanish in Chile started with its first version in 2023 as result of the collaborative work between the Office of Global Mobility and the UC Chile Spanish Program from the UC Faculty of Literature. It is a project that invites international students to learn Spanish in a 3-week period, between the months of June and July, offering an immersive experience with the Chilean and Latin-American culture.

Throughout this experience, students attended intensive Spanish classes guided by faculty members of the UC Chile Spanish Program. Their learning experience was complemented with scheduled activities and trips to important places in Santiago, the capital city of Chile, and Valparaíso, one of the most turistic cities in the country that has also a beautiful beach.

The program is not only about learning Spanish, but it is also about engaging with Chilean Spanish, known for its unique idioms and fast paced speech, along with its culture.

“I had a bit of culture shock on my first days, but I have learnt a lot of Spanish, I didn’t think I would do it so fast. I met incredible people” mentioned Lucas Castelnuovo, Spanish in Chile student from Universiteit Van Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Students like Rini Delgadillo from Australian Catholic University and Charlotte Costers from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, also participated in the first version of the program, sharing their thoughts with us:


Intercultural Approaches for Public Health is a program that takes place each year during the  summer time in Chile, in the month of January, and it organized by the Office of Global Mobility in cooperation with the UC School of Nursing, and with participant professors from UC Chile’s School of Anthropology and School of Social Work.

Opened to any area of knowledge, it aims for participants to learn about the Chilean Health system through deeply engaging experiences in field observations, seminars, among others. At the same time, the Intercultural Approaches for Public Health offers tools to enhance communicative skills:

“It is a program that we offer together with the School of Nursing. The idea is that students can attend five seminars about Public Health and four seminars about Interculturality, along with participating in workshops that promote leadership and communicative skills, through which students can have personal growth and enhance their professional skills set”, explained Cristián Bonilla.

Also, this summer program integrates  Mapuche’s -the largest indigenous groups in Chile- and Aymara’s cosmovision and medicine, and the use of their language, complementing diversity and the cultural richness of its participants.

International Recognition of Study Abroad Programs

First group of IISMA students to welcome international students.
Photo: First group of IISMA students at the International Students Welcome Ceremony of the second semester 2022. Photo by Karina Fuenzalida, Office of the Vice President for Communication & Cultural Outreach.

UC Chile is the first and only university in Latin America that welcomes Indonesian students through the Scholarship Program “International Student Mobility Awards (IISMA)”, administered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia. 

This project offers high academic performance students the opportunity to participate in a student mobility program in the best universities around the world. Since 2022, UC Chile has been one of the selected universities to host students.

In collaboration with the UC Chile Spanish Program, the Faculty of Literature and other schools, the program provides unique experiences through English and Spanish taught courses, cultural activities and field trips, allowing students to broaden their knowledge of the Chilean and Latin-American culture.

Towards new opportunities

This year started with the second version of  Intercultural Approaches which took place in January, where 15 students participated, including two students from the UC Chile School of Nursing, who were selected to join for their outstanding academic performance.

An important milestone for the Special Mobility Programs is the implementation of a new program that runs from January to May, offering international students two English-taught and two Spanish-taught courses.

“We are analyzing it. At the moment, everything has worked smoothly, but adjustments and improvements are always needed, in order to create a unique experience for the participant students”, emphasized Cristián Bonilla, Head of Study Abroad and International Internships. 

These programs represent a cultural growth context for international students, as well as for the UC Chile community. These are experiences that contribute in strengthening cultural diversity, preparing people for a globalized world:

“Our society is global, thus, interculturality is paramount for our university to improve our ways of thinking and acting with different cultures, people and situations”, wrapped up Cristián Bonilla.

It is expected that international students are motivated to engage in these unique opportunities through the Special Programs, widening their knowledge, together with partners and the UC Chile community, with immersive experiences to learn Spanish and get involved in the Chilean culture.

If you want to know more about all the internationalization opportunities that UC Chile offers, please click here.

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