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Study Abroad vs. Teach Abroad

Just like every study abroad experience is different, as are Teach abroad experiences. Even within the same country. It depends on your host city as much as your host Teach site.

I’ll make the following comparison between two particular elements of the abroad programs.

Duoc Sites* are like host families; you're told whom you have soon before arriving but you really don't know what it will be like until you get there. There are a lot of first impressions, misunderstandings and occasional mess-ups, but co-habitation grows and tests you. Quirks become individual charm (ex: host dad's odd Malbec and soda water before each afternoon siesta; or the choral "Chau, buenas" from the teacher's lounge every time someone leaves work). And awkward moments become routine (never understanding how to use the bidet and it’s too late to ask, or wondering how to get the loads of mayonnaise off of everything they feed you; or a tardy student who knocks musically on the door and then makes a big scene upon entering). Like I said, they test you.

Each situation involves sacrifices and integrative steps from both parties. Starting is turning the glitter globe -your world, or your beliefs about the world- upside-down. Adjusting is letting gravity settle the pieces and integrating is accepting and acknowledging where the pieces ultimately fall. It is a long-term process; one that I’m happy to participate in here in Chile as well as pick-up every time I return to Mendoza for a visit.

Host families and Duoc Sites can be a defining part of the abroad experience, or they can be just a small factor of it all. They can be your friends and family, or they can be your shelter and your rent. It depends on goals and vibes. However, they do require commitment and responsibility on your part. They are not only there to give you an experience or opportunity, but you are also there to do your part. Ultimately, the journey is figuring out what “your part” will be.

*DUOC UC is a technical and professional institution (comparable to a community college) founded by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. There are 14 sites with varying technical and professional degrees. There is one site in each Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, and Melipilla, while the rest are located in Santiago. Degrees include tourism, health, design, construction, communication and more. For more information go to http://www.duoc.cl/nosotros.

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