Sam Garcia


Stanford in Santiago, Autumn 2016-17
Major: International Relations
College year while abroad: Junior
About the photo: Patagonia is beautiful and windy.


Why did you choose to study abroad in Santiago?

I chose to study abroad in Santiago program because I am deeply interested in Latin American history and culture. As such, I was eager for the opportunity to live in Chile and to take classes largely focusing on the region's history, political development, and literature.

What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Santiago?

I entered Santiago unsure of the extent to which there would be opportunities to easily get to know Chilean students given that the independent Stanford center (as opposed to Stanford students taking classes at a Chilean university. I was glad that this was not a problem. BOSP provided opportunities for us to get to know Chilean students, I was able to get to know my homestay brothers well, and my friends and I became close with a group of Chileans that we met independently.

What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Santiago?

I found the professors in the program to be impressive and impactful. Perhaps the most academically significant experience of my time in Santiago was the opportunity to study the political and economic development of Latin America under Professor Germán Correa. Professor Correa has an abundance of experience in the Chilean government, having served as Minister of Transportation and Telecommunication, Minister of the Interior, and President of the Socialist Party, and was a giant in the resistance against the Pinochet regime. His expertise and perspective was particularly fascinating given the historic political events that unfolded while I was in Santiago – the death of Fidel Castro and the election of President Donald Trump, for example.

What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?

Leaving the United States to question and consider the merits of the American worldview us a valuable opportunity. I was grateful for the opportunity to step back and assess what is great about the United States and what needs more work.

What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?

The most challenging experience was watching the 2016 election from Chile. The result was unexpected and confusing, and it was strange to field Chileans' questions about the election and its implications.

What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?

It was important to remember to be sensitive in discussing the dictatorship given the vastly different experiences Chileans had during the period.

What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Santiago?

I enjoyed walking to the Stanford center from my apartment every morning. Santiago is a busting city but there are wonderful pockets of quiet and green, and the looming Andes are a beautiful sight. I also enjoyed spending time with the other Stanford students both in the center and elsewhere in Chile.

What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Santiago?

Visiting the Termas Geometricas hot springs in Pucon, Chile. Sitting in volcanic hot springs in the midst of a snow storm was a surreally beautiful experience.

What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?

Que no pare la fiesta

Fun Questions:

What was your favorite food you had in Santiago?

Curanto, a traditional southern Chilean dish with meat, seafood, vegetables.

What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?


What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Santiago?

Los Jaivas