Returning to her Roots: Columbia College Undergrad Tells of Study Abroad in Chile

Columbia undergrad Victoria Flowerree returns to Chile in a self-discovery study abroad program.

June 03, 2024

Victoria Flowerree is an undergraduate student at Columbia College, studying Political Science. She is now performing her study abroad program in Chile, where she was raised – an experience that is familiar but which has also provided her unique insights into the country. Below is her account of her experience.

When deciding where to go abroad, the array of options was overwhelming. I could go anywhere. However, after three years as an international student at Columbia, I decided that I wanted to return to the place I called home: Santiago, Chile. Although it might not sound like the most exciting city in the world, the coziness and warmth of Chileans are the keys to unlocking the most amazing region in the world.

Living in Santiago has allowed me to visit breathtaking places. I've been to Cerro Castillo, a pristine, untouched mountain range in Patagonia, where I hiked 60km. I've also visited ranches in the Andes, embarking on seven-day horseback riding trips and feeling like a true "Huaso" [Chilean cowboy]. I've taken advantage of the vineyards and the fabulous Chilean wines. And finally, I've frequented my favorite place in the world: the beach. Though the water in Chile is not the warmest, sunny days in Topocalma or Cachagua (my favorite beaches) have offered a chance to relax and enjoy nature. The Isla de los Pingüinos in Cachagua has even given me the opportunity to surf with penguins while basking in 28°C sunny weather.

Aside from the magnificent natural scenes that Santiago offers, I've been fortunate to study at one of the most prestigious universities in Latin America. At the Universidad Católica, I've had the opportunity to take a Public Policy class taught by Andrea Repetto, a prominent Chilean economist, as well as classes on indigenous politics and Chilean history. These courses have allowed me to learn about Chilean politics from a firsthand perspective. Discussing how the Chilean systems differ from those in the U.S. and how Chileans are building a more developed country has inspired me to pursue a career in public policy.

This experience has been a true break from noisy New York. Being 30 minutes away from a ski resort in Santiago or 10 minutes away from the amazing Manquehue hike has allowed me to explore nature in a much-needed way. Overall, this experience has provided an opportunity to explore one of the most southern regions in the world and learn not only about life here but also about myself.