Preparing to Go: Santiago

Syracuse Santiago Center

Universidad de Syracuse
Campus Oriente, Universidad Católica
Av. J. Guzmán 3300, Providencia
Santiago, Chile

Mail should always be sent to the center at the student’s attention (never to the host family address). Students will have a mail box at the Syracuse center and the staff will notify students when a package arrives.

Santiago Staff Contact Information:

Syracuse Santiago Program Dates

Page Contents

Santiago, Chile

Before You Travel

Do not make concrete in-country travel plans until you arrive in Chile, as some university and program dates are still tentative and subject to change. Also, you will spend much less on tickets, lodging, etc. if you make your plans in Chile rather than from the United States.

Remember that you will be arriving during the winter in the fall semester and you will leave Chile during the summer. Pack clothes for two seasons and think layers—ranging from a winter coat, hat and gloves, to summer t-shirts and a rain jacket, etc. While it does not get as cold as Syracuse, Chilean homes, the universities, and public buildings often do not have central heating, which can make it seem much colder. It will not snow directly in the city, but it will in the mountains. Always a good idea to look at the weather before departing.

Arrival and Orientation

All students are expected to arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Wednesday, June 26, 2024 for the Buenos Aries Immersion Program.

Please do not make flight arrangements until you are instructed to do so by your International Program Advisor. Arrival details will be sent to students about two weeks before your departure. Students should be very aware of their belongings throughout the arrival process, especially while luggage is being transferred from airport to sidewalk to van, and from van to sidewalk to hotel.

All students are required to attend the virtual pre-departure orientation hosted by your International Program Advisor from Syracuse Abroad several months before your departure.  Parents are also welcomed to attend.  An invitation will be sent out to students and families about two weeks before the event.

Once on-site, orientation will continue in person with in-depth information about Chile covering safety and security, academics, LGBTQIA+ culture, public transport, etc.

Living in Santiago

Housing and Facilities

Syracuse Santiago is a homestay program, where all students live with a host family.

Although we do everything we can to accommodate your individual requests, keep in mind that we cannot guarantee that every request will be met. Please remain flexible and keep an open mind. Many of you will not be placed with a “nuclear” family consisting of two parents and children. The traditional family structure is changing in Chile, and part of your cultural experience consists of learning about that reality (for example, host families might be single working mothers, divorced single adults, families with grown children in their 20s, etc.).

You will receive information about your host family shortly before your arrival. Our host families have been hosting our students for years and continue to do so because of the rewarding experience for both them and the student. Our staff is there to ensure that you will be living in a clean, safe environment in which you will have your own room with a bed, dresser, and desk.

To avoid conflicts, be courteous and respectful and ask questions early on. Make sure you know what is expected of you and communicate your needs clearly. During the on-site orientation we will talk more about the benefits and responsibilities of living with a Chilean host family.

Be aware that switching families is reserved for extreme situations only. If you have a problem or issue, contact the Housing Coordinator. Of course, if a switch is necessary to protect a student’s health or well-being, it is carried out as quickly as possible.

Although not required, it is a nice gesture of thanks if you bring your host family a small gift when you arrive in Santiago. Something small and inexpensive but demonstrative of who you are and where you come from—such as a calendar with pictures, maple syrup, chocolates, or any product from your home region (except fruits or vegetables)—will be greatly appreciated by your Chilean host.

Important note: You may not host overnight guests during your semester abroad. Visiting friends and family should make hotel reservations.

Also, please keep in mind  that not every family speaks English fluently, so it’s important be open minded and  let the on-site staff  if you need assistance handling anything.


Students will receive three meals per day provided by their host family. When students are at school for the day, their host family will provide them with a box lunch. Breakfast usually consists of bread, ham, cheese, and tea. Lunch in Chile is generally a hot meal. Teatime is around 6 p.m. and typically includes tea, cookies, pastries, bread, sandwiches, etc. Dinner is a hot meal between 8 and 9 p.m. Some families, however, are starting to change this, serving lunch in the mid-afternoon (around 3 p.m.) and then only “once” in the evening.

General Tips

  • Know that your Spanish language skills will be rocky at first. Use it regardless, and avoid English! One important safety tip is to keep a low profile, and that includes not speaking English in public spaces.
  • If you want to make local friends, try to separate yourself from your U.S. friends and acquaintances, even if this means stepping outside your comfort zone.
  • Take things one step at a time. In the end, things tend to work out. You will get used to “Chilean time” and other cultural differences and will come to appreciate them.

Computer Information

There is WiFi available at the Syracuse Santiago Center, as well as throughout the various Chilean universities and university libraries.

Regarding your own laptop, please note:

  • Ensure that your computer will work on 220/240-volt, 50-cycle current. Many computers will work on 100/240-volt, 50/60-cycle current, in which case there is no problem. If not, you will need a small converter to use it overseas. These are available from most electronics stores. We recommend purchasing one in the United States.

There are computer labs on the campus where the Syracuse Santiago Center is located. There are also several cyber cafés near the center and throughout Santiago, where students can access the Internet for a small fee.


All university communications will be sent to your email, so it is imperative you check this daily. We expect you to read and respond to emails promptly- it is our first mode of contact in an emergency.

Note that Syracuse University uses a two-factor authentication system for email and other electronic access. You should configure this with a smartphone app before travel, so you do not have issues accessing your email. Visit Answers for more information.

Failure to receive and read communications sent to your university email address does not absolve you from knowing and complying with the content of them.

Cell Phones

Please ensure that before you leave the U.S. you have installed and set up the Microsoft Authenticator app as your primary mode of two-factor authentication on your smartphone. This will ensure that you will not be blocked from accessing email, MySlice, Blackboard, etc.  View Answers for more information.

You will have the opportunity to purchase a cell phone once you are in Santiago. If you choose to purchase a phone, it is recommended that you choose an inexpensive phone and pay for minutes as you need them throughout the semester. Phones can be purchased with Visa, MasterCard, or in cash (Chilean Pesos), in various locations throughout Santiago. You should not buy cell phones with a monthly plan (most require signing for at least one year), nor should you buy cell phones with a roaming system (it is activated several months after the purchase of the phone to avoid misuse of stolen phones).

While the use of a Chilean cell phone is strongly recommended for the duration of the program, we recommend that you also bring your U.S. cell phone for travel to and from the United States. In the event of a travel delay or flight change, it is helpful to have your cell phone in the airport so you can contact your family and Syracuse Abroad.

Financial Information

Syracuse Santiago Program Cost


Only Chilean citizens can open a checking account in Chile. The best way to access money is by withdrawing cash from an ATM or using a debit/credit card. Most local “Redbanc” ATMs work well for students in Chile. Be sure to notify your bank to authorize your cards for international usage.

Certain transactions in Chile still require cash, so you may want to bring some U.S. dollars to exchange upon arrival. We recommend doing so at a casa de cambio within the city rather than at the airport, as the exchange rate will be better. Also, the exchange rate within Chile will be more favorable than at a U.S. bank.

Credit cards can also be used, although it is common for stores and restaurants to accept only one type of card (i.e. MasterCard or Visa), so if at all possible, bring more than one credit card.

Credit cards

It is a good idea to have a credit card in your name. It is not essential, but can come in handy in an emergency. Prior to coming to Argentina and Chile, contact your credit card provider to make sure your card can be used in foreign countries and that you have a 4 or 5-digit PIN. Again, you should inquire about any international service fees they may charge and let them know how long you will be overseas.

GooglePay is not applicable in Chile.

Academic Information

Enrollment Policies

In Chile, all students are required to register for 1.) a Spanish language course (Beginning Spanish SPA 180 or Intermediate Spanish SPA 280 and 2.) the Contemporary Issues in Chile and Argentina Signature Seminar. The Signature Seminar may not be dropped.

Undergraduate students are required to enroll on a full-time basis and register for at least 12 credits. Undergraduates may register for up to 19 total credits  at no additional charge. Some courses may not be audited. These include the Signature Seminar, required SPA language course, and affiliated Chilean university courses.

Chilean university grades: Most students will take courses at two or more institutions: the Syracuse Santiago Center, Pontificia Universidad Católica, and Universidad Diego Portales. Note that grades for courses taken at any of the affiliated local universities may not be received and posted to the Syracuse system until early July for spring semester.

Grades at the Chilean universities are calculated on a scale of 1 to 7 and converted to letter grades in accordance with a conversion chart you will receive during orientation in Santiago. You will find that the general attitude toward grades differs significantly from the United States: 7s are almost never awarded. In other words, don’t expect perfect grades. It is also typical for professors to read everyone’s grades out loud in class or to post grades on the department bulletin board. They are considered public information.


You will be administratively registered for your fall 2024 Santiago courses sometime in June.  The courses you are registered for will be determined by the courses you pre-selected on your Student Advising Form.


Internships and volunteer work are available in Santiago with advance submission of the internship request form and your résumé, plus an on-site interview.