Students from Chile visit CSB/SJU

"We love this place, but it's hard to get used to the weather and the mosquitoes."

August 2, 2011

By Hannah Hylla '13 and Alivia Tison '13

When winter hits campus, many College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University students flee south for warmer climates - think Mexico, Florida and Texas. For a group of 20 students from Chile, however, escaping winter weather means travelling to St. Joseph, Minn.  

Students from Universidad de Adolfo Ibañez (UAI), located at two campuses in Santiago and Viña del Mar, Chile, participate in a month-long study abroad program at CSB and SJU which ended Friday, Aug. 5. Not only are they adjusting to a new climate, but also to new foods, the "ocean-less beaches" of Minnesota and the customs of a Minnesotan life.

 "In Chile we drink a cup of milk for breakfast, eat lunch at 2 p.m. and dinner around 10 p.m.," said Mauricio Salinas, a Chilean student from Santiago. "We love this place, but it's hard to get used to the weather and the mosquitoes."

Since their arrival on July 10, students have taken a course called United States History and Society taught by CSB and SJU professors. Although mornings are spent in the classroom, students still find time to have experiences outside of CSB and SJU.

From Minnesota Twins games, weekend excursions to Minnesota cities such as Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul, to homestays with local families, the students experience Minnesota firsthand.

 "I really like Minnesota," said Maite Sofía, a Chilean student from Viña del Mar. "It's a very good experience and is very satisfying. Everyone deserves to go, and I hope to come back."

For three years, a group of Chilean students have been selected to study abroad at CSB and SJU during their winter term. This year, the newly formed Center for Global Education (CGE) took over the administration of this program at CSB and SJU.

The CGE promotes an active engagement in global and international experiences through its support for education abroad, area studies and modern language programs, international students, student and faculty exchanges, and strategic partnerships with international universities, non-governmental organizations and business.

"The program is a partnership between UAI and CSB and SJU. It connects students for cultural reasons," said Kalleah Morseth, a CSB senior communication major. Morseth is working this summer as a joint student employee for Office for Education Abroad (OEA) and CGE.  

Morseth has been working directly with the Chilean students and plans their co-curricular program itinerary.  She has organized on-campus events such as barbecues, karaoke nights in O'Connell's and soccer games to promote interaction between CSB and SJU students and the Chilean students. 

"I learn not only about a culture, but also the faces, jokes and personalities behind it," Morseth said. "It's so beautiful."

Much like CSB and SJU students preparing to go abroad, the Chilean students experienced many of the same feelings before their departure.

"I was excited before coming here," Salinas said. "My advice for students studying abroad is to enjoy it from the very first day. Plan a routine for each day and meet all of the people. I hope to meet many people, learn how they live and improve my English."

Taking his own advice, Salinas has done everything from attending a World Wrestling Entertainment event in Minneapolis to enjoying the simplest things on the CSB campus including sand volleyball and the food at Gorecki Dining and Conference Center.