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The Experience

Live and learn in Spanish, in the dynamic and friendly culture of Chile.

Chat in Spanish at local shops. Check out street art, navigate winding streets full of brightly colored houses, and visit local artisan markets. Hike, bike, or hit the beach on the weekends. Grab an empanada or ripe mango on the go. Five days a week, you’ll attend a local high school — with classes taught solely in Spanish — followed by your choice of fun extracurricular activities and clubs. During your free time, play pickup basketball, practice your folk dancing skills, catch a local football (soccer) match, or hang out with your host family “siblings.”

Two female students with valley behind them
Dramatic hills and valleys of Valparaiso.
Chilean female classmates
Join after-school teams and activities with Chilean classmates.


Upon arriving in Chile with your fellow participants, you will be met by CIEE staff in Santiago, and then you’ll head to Valparaíso, where you will begin your five-day orientation. During orientation, you will participate in a series of workshops focusing on a variety of themes — culture, language, academics, social norms, and current events — all designed to best prepare you for your experience in Chile. You will also take 10 hours of Spanish classes to help prepare you for your language immersion experience. In addition, you’ll see some of the best that Valparaíso and Santiago have to offer!

Participate in an exciting scavenger hunt, where you’ll explore the city and put your Spanish into practice. Take an organized tour of Valparaíso, and become familiar with the public transportation system. You will also visit neighboring Viña del Mar and Valparaíso’s Natural History Museum. Cap off orientation with a daytrip to Chile’s capital — Santiago!

“This city has given me a piece of myself that I was not aware was missing. To me, Valparaíso is the most beautiful and wonderful city in the world. The people here are some of the greatest people and the nicest I’ve ever met. There’s always a smile on their faces and a genuine greeting following close behind. Though, the people here aren’t the only great thing about this city; the food here is phenomenal — I’ve never tasted better food anywhere. Valparaíso has taught me important life lessons. It has taught me to be more independent, and to trust my instincts and the people around me, even with a language barrier. I am so thankful for this opportunity. This city has taught me more about myself than my small town in upstate New York ever could.”

-Kolby L., High School Abroad Programs Alumnus

The Destination

The beaches, the glaciers, the wilds of Patagonia — you’ll grow and learn in colorful Chile.

Picture yourself in Chile:

Meeting up with your Chilean classmates after school to kick around a football. Getting a feel for regional slang through your daily interactions with local shop owners, neighbors, and friends. Learning to dance the cueca, the national dance of Chile, during a school field trip.

Whether you’re in the center of Valparaíso or in a nearby suburb, spending a semester or year in Chile will help you advance your Spanish language skills. You’ll be immersed in the daily traditions and culture of the Chilean people, and build practical, real-world skills both in class and through your personal explorations.

Student with Chilean flag looking at mountains
Mighty mountains, and the tallest volcano on the planet.
Student walking down alley of graffiti
World-famous street art...
Student in front of waterfall
Here you’ll find lakes and rainforests...

The Take-Aways

Language Proficiency

Regardless of your level of proficiency upon entry, you’ll make dramatic strides in your Spanish language skills while immersed in the Chilean high school experience. Return home with remarkably improved skills, ready to ace (or skip) the next level of Spanish language classes in the United States.

Based on ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, CIEE High School Abroad participants improve, on average, two language levels during the course of the program.

The CIEE High School Abroad program provides students more language contact hours in just a few weeks than the average U.S. high school student receives through high school language classes in an entire academic year — 150 hours.*

*Alice Omaggio Hadley’s Teaching Language in Context
female student posing in front of city
Gain a unique global perspective in a country stretched over three continents (South America, Antarctica and Oceania).

“Studying abroad in a foreign country is an experience that will impact the way you think about the world and yourself. I went to Chile at the top of my Spanish class, but quickly found that there was so much more than raw grammar and vocabulary to learn. It was difficult and humbling at times, but by the end of the trip I felt comfortable with my classmates, was scoring well on tests, and had made a lifelong relationship with my host family. I came back to my hometown with fluency in Spanish, friends in faraway places, and quite a few recipes for my fellow gringos to try. I can’t say that studying abroad is a fun breeze — the point is, after all, to remove yourself from the comfort zone of your own language and culture — but I can say that through it, you will grow in ways that are difficult to explain, and come out with a confidence you never thought possible.”

–Madeline S., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna, current student at Stanford University

Local Transcript

You will receive an official record of classes and grades from your local school in Chile. Credit transfer will vary from school to school, country to country, so please consult with your U.S. school guidance counselor.

Global Citizenship

After immersing yourself in unfamiliar practices and customs, you’ll become better equipped to interact with people from other cultures — in school, on the job, or in your personal life. In today’s interconnected global economy, intercultural skills have never been more important.

94% of participants said their intercultural understanding and knowledge improved as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program, while 93% said their experience made them more aware of global issues.

Independence & Resilience

Come home better prepared to make transitions, take control of new situations, and appreciate challenging experiences for what they are: opportunities to learn and grow.

90% of participants said their level of independence increased as a result of their participation in the CIEE High School Abroad program.

“I learned things that aren’t taught in schools: what is really important to me, what I want out of life, and how to be more open-minded and confident.”

–Sophie R., CIEE High School Abroad Alumna

College Readiness

Studying abroad gives you the kinds of life skills that can’t be learned in a classroom — and shows college admissions reps that you’re already one step ahead in terms of initiative, maturity, and independence.

79% of participants said their experience with CIEE helped shape their college applications.

“Everyone is shocked to hear that I studied abroad when I was 15 years old. I’m shocked myself — yet, quite frankly, I’m shocked that it isn’t more common to study abroad in high school. CIEE gave me an opportunity that most people have never heard of. The program transformed me into the person I am today, with impeccable people skills and the ability to adapt to any environment. I owe a huge thanks to the CIEE program. I am proud to be a CIEE alumnus!”

-Alex A., CIEE High School Abroad Alumnus

Passion & Direction

Upon return, you’ll likely have a better sense of what you want to study in college or even pursue as a career.

86% of participants felt their experience with CIEE impacted their educational or career pursuits and goals, while 96% of participants said they regularly use the knowledge and skills they acquired while abroad with CIEE.

Sample Activities & Excursions

Get out and explore the cultural landmarks and natural beauty that will surround you.

Spanning verdant green valleys and dramatic desert landscapes, Chile offers countless opportunities for outdoor exploration. With nearly 4,000 miles of coastline, you’re never far from a beach or spectacular ocean view. From the Andes Mountains east of Santiago to the glaciers far to the south, natural beauty abounds. Each city in Chile has its own colorful personality, with myriad cultural attractions and landmarks well worth visiting. You’ll have a whole year or semester to discover the country with new CIEE friends, and with your host family.

Your program fee includes excursions hosted by CIEE staff, so you’ll get the chance to take in the diverse sights and sounds of several Chilean hot spots:

  • Santiago
    Join us for a daytrip to Chile’s capital and largest city. You’ll experience Santiago’s historical wonder in the shadow of the snow-capped Andes, while feeding on the energy of this cosmopolitan population center.
  • Pucón
    Get ready for an overnight excursion in Chile’s adventure tourism hub! Pucón offers everything from the rain forest to beaches to hot springs, with activities like hiking, whitewater rafting, snowboarding, and caving widely available.
students in front of lake
Friends ‘til the end.
lake with mountains in background
Explore the longest country on Earth.

Meet the Staff

Patricio Varas Guerrero

Study Center Director

Patricio Varas Guerrero, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in linguistics at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile. His Ph.D. focuses on models of discourse processing, based on corpus linguistics, to explain how different groups use language to reach their functional goals. He lived for 10 years in Bogotá, Colombia, where he earned his M.Sc. in development planning and administration from the Universidad de los Andes. His practical experience has been in the fields of international development projects and public policy at governmental organizations in Chile and Colombia, as well as teaching courses in public policy analysis at the Universidad de los Andes.

Natalia Castro

Student Services Coordinator

Natalia Castro joined CIEE Chile in 2013. Natalia is a translator and has a bachelor’s degree in languages and a minor in international business from the Universidad Tecnológica de Chile, INACAP. She began working at the Santiago de Chile Study Center, but in the spring 2015 semester she joined the Valparaíso staff. She loves biking, trekking, and cooking. Natalia, along with Gloria Tapia, will be the primary contact for students participating in the High School Abroad program.

Gloria Tapia

Volunteer and Administrative Assistant

Gloria Tapia has been a CIEE employee since 2008, fulfilling various tasks in the administrative area, focusing mainly on organization and coordinating volunteer work for students. Currently, Gloria is in her fourth year of studying social work through the DUOC Institute of the Catholic University of Valparaíso. Gloria also enjoys taking English classes in her spare time. She has extensive experience in the areas of communication and customer service. Gloria enjoys meeting and interacting with people. She is a sports fanatic and loves nature, animals, and everything outdoors. Gloria, along with Natalia Castro, will be the primary contact for students participating in the High School Abroad program.

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