My Homestay Experience in Chile

During my study abroad here in Chile, I’ve been lucky enough to find a great homestay. Before my departure to Santiago, I thought I had reserved a homestay but later found out that it never actually booked. Soon after, I quickly booked my current situation, and I have found it to be a blessing.

“I had to wake her up at 3 a.m. to open up for me, since I had no keys. When she opened the gates and door to get inside, she comforted me and told me to get some rest.”

I would like to start by saying that the location is very convenient to my university. It is only a 12-minute walk to stop for the bus that gets me to school. Also, it is about a 15-minute walk to the grocery store as well as the Metro, which allows me to move quickly around the city with connections to other transit lines.

My homestay itself is a small two-story house with three bedrooms, one bathroom and a small kitchen. It has a small side patio with chairs, a pool, a small garden and hang out space. The only person I live with is my house-mom, Ceci, who also rents out a studio in the back. She owns a small dog named Tito and a cat named Ca-lota.

My house-mom is the best. She always shares her homemade traditional Chilean dishes and desserts. During the hotter days in February and April she would serve me ice cream to beat the heat.

But it goes beyond that. Another reason she is the best is that she was there for me when I needed it. During my first two weeks in Chile, I was mugged. Despite being assaulted and left with empty pockets, I managed to make it home. I had to wake Ceci up at 3 a.m. to open up for me, since I had no keys. When she opened the gates and door to get inside, she comforted me and told me to get some rest.

Later that morning, Ceci took me to the Carabineros (police) to file a report. I believe that was the nicest thing anyone could do; she stayed by my side during most of the filing. Being that I am in Santiago, Chile, the process was very slow. She has a condition where she cannot sit for long periods of time because her body starts to ache, so she left with me her phone number and told me to call her to pick me up from the station.

Afterwards, she drove me to a Metro station to get a new transit card, since my old one had been stolen, so I can be able to use the transit system and get to school the next day.

Ceci was even nice enough to share her Netflix account with me. After some time, she noticed that I would watch Netflix on my laptop and decided to buy a 32’ Smart-TV so I could watch Netflix more comfortably in my room.

There are a few things about my homestay that I am a bit displeased with. For one, I am used to a washer and dryer. We do have a washer, but we use a clothesline to dry laundry. I’m all for this eco-friendly way of drying clothes, but now that we are in the winter season, it makes it a bit difficult to dry because of the cloud coverage. I also always have to make sure there is room on the clothes-line.

Since it’s winter, it is cold around the house. Ceci recently brought out some heaters to help (most homes in Chile do not have central heat). There have also been several times that we have been without power. Just this week it was windy and rainy and the power went out on two separate days. The second time, I was at home and I had to sit close to the window so I could read. My house mom noticed, invited me upstairs to use her desk and turned on her gas heater so we could stay warm.

After several hours the power went back on. I had already finished my reading, so I went on to work on a presentation for class. Then power then went out again for over an hour.

Rodrigo Polanco is a fourth year international business major with an emphasis in Spanish and Latin America. He is studying spring semester at Universidad Adolfo Ibanez in Santiago, Chile.

One thought on “My Homestay Experience in Chile

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  1. I think your experience was very interesting. I too had issues on my experience however it is nice to hear you be able to overcome the negatives with a positive. This is the best part of the immersion experience. Overall my program was awesome as well and I am glad you were able to find joy in even the small things.

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