Learning Spanish in Chile
Study Abroad Student Prepares for Career as Bilingual Therapist
“You only live once, so why not make it an all-around experience? Try something new, learn and grow from it!”
Inspired by her goal of becoming a bilingual therapist and by her twin brother, who had studied in Chile, University of Colorado Denver student Hannah Jeanicke took a bold step in perfecting her Spanish language skills through studies in a Latin American country.
Jeanicke, a psychology major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, found a comfortable living arrangement with a host family in Valparaiso, Chile, while she took classes at The Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso. From Tuesday through Thursday each week, she attended classes with American students as well as extranjeros (foreign students).
A full day of Spanish immersion was made possible throughout her busy day. Classes filled much of the morning and afternoon, and at night she conversed with her host family in Spanish. Her language skills also came into play as she navigated public transportation and shopped at local stores. When extra help was needed, Jeanicke explained that many younger Chileans have a solid understanding of English, which facilitated language exchanges.
On weekends, Jeanicke had plenty of opportunities to travel and explore throughout the country. She enjoyed many cultural events, including the Fiestas Patrias festival, a week-long event in September that permits the population to take time off from school and from work to celebrate Chile’s independence. Traditional foods, celebratory dances and carnival games ran throughout the week.
When Jeanicke’s fall semester is completed, she plans on traveling abroad for an entire month before returning to Colorado for her spring semester at CU Denver. After graduation, Jeanicke’s goal is focused on a career path as a bilingual therapist, with Spanish as her second language.
“My favorite part of this whole experience was getting out of my comfort zone. I’ve made friends that I will continue to have for the rest of my life, and I’ve gotten to travel and experience life, which, in turn, has allowed for a lot of self-growth, “ said Jeanicke. She summed it up by saying, “This has been both a beautiful and a challenging experience.”