I just got back from a site visit to a few of our ASA locations in South America. Part of my trip led me to Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, sister cities located about an hour and a half from Santiago, Chile. I had never been to Chile, but “Viña/Valpo”, as they call it, was a nice place to start. I never really understood why the cities were referred to in the same breath, but now I do – they sit right next to each other, and they really complement each other well. They are kind of like fraternal twins. Let me explain:
“Viña” is modern. She reads up on the latest trends – is very into fashion and always is trying new restaurants that open up. She studies Nutrition and has begun writing her thesis, which may turn into a book. After studying all week at her favorite spot in the park, she spends weekends at the beach catching rays with her friends. She stays in shape by surfing early mornings before class, and running along the boardwalk as the sunsets.
“Valpo” is vintage. She’s artistic – she’s into photography and she paints and has recently gotten into street art, which is a more respectful and well-intentioned version of graffiti. She studies Social Work and volunteers at a homeless shelter. She gets her studying done in local cafes, and on the weekends she and her friends gather for jam sessions in their favorite local square. She likes to ski in the winter months, and walking up the hills of her neighborhood keeps her in shape during the summer.
However, since they are sisters, they still have a lot in common. They get together a couple nights each week to enjoy some vino tinto or a pisco sour and catch up on the latest news. They cruise artisan markets and catch concerts when there’s a good show in town. They both work hard at their studies but know when it’s time to relax and enjoy good company and good scenery.
Viña del Mar and Valparaiso has something for everyone, no matter where your interests lie. ASA’s program at Universidad Viña del Mar is a great option for any student who wants to learn Spanish, likes medium sized cities, and is interested in dynamic culture. With opportunities to volunteer in the community, there are even more ways to get to know this city and its people, who are as warm and welcoming as they come. Don’t miss out on the chance to study in Chile’s preferred destination for college students – you won’t regret your semester abroad with ASA!