Back to SummaryWill Troppe - Student Advisor Profile
When I look back at my study abroad adventure, my thoughts focus on several key facets of my time in Santiago: the classes I took, my experience with my host family, my internship, interactions with new friends, and traveling around South America. Together, these facets shaped my study abroad and created one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
I’m not BOSP’s typical study abroad student. For one, I’m majoring in Atmosphere/Energy Engineering. Many Stanford students majoring in engineering immediately dismiss the idea of studying abroad, believing there’s no room in their schedules to take a quarter of mainly humanities classes. This is terribly unfortunate, as I firmly believe studying abroad benefits all those who fully embrace it. With enough planning, it’s almost always possible to fit studying abroad within a four-year Stanford undergraduate experience. Additionally, my classes were flexible enough that I was permitted to focus on my choice topic of study, renewable energy and climate change, in an international context while in Chile. Climate change is an international issue; why limit my scope to a national scale? My internship gave me a firsthand view of Chile’s efforts to promote renewable energy development.
Classes in Chile were incredible and accepting to students of all academic backgrounds. I took an International Relations course, Latin America in the International System, taught by Alberto van Klavaren, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Chile’s State Department. That class permitted me to research the state of renewable energy development and different countries’ policies to encourage further development in Latin America compared with the United States. In my Topics in Chilean History class, taught by Stanford in Santiago Director and Historian Ivan Jaksic, we studied events and trends throughout Chile’s history. Our final paper consisted of an analysis of a certain topic or organization throughout Chile’s history. I chose to research my internship organization’s founding and history. In short, my classroom experience was wholeheartedly fulfilling.
With the help of contacts at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, I worked out a great internship consisting of ten hours a week at CER, the Centro de Energías Renovables (Center for Renewable Energy), a joint project of Chile’s Energy Ministry and the US Department of Energy, formed as a subcommittee of Chile’s CORFO, Corporación del Fomento, or Development Organization. All of CORFO’s subcommittees help support the economy. My work with CER included online research, in Spanish, of various independent commercial initiatives to install renewable energy on their sites, including many rooftop solar hot water heaters. CER used some of my research to develop case studies of the different companies to help other companies succeed in similar endeavors.
Aside from activities that furthered my academic and professional development, I also had a ton of fun. I toured the wonderful city of Santiago and its sites and several other places around Chile and Argentina, with both Chilean friends and new friends from Stanford. I went hang gliding, hiked roughly ten kilometers to a waterfall on a trail that was mere minutes from Santiago’s center, tasted Chilean nightlife, traveled to Buenos Aires and Mendoza in Argentina, went surfing at world-famous beaches an hour and a half from Santiago, and visited the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world.
Finally, the host family experience. Families vary widely within the Bing program. I only had a host mother; her two kids had grown up and left home. We spent many evenings around the dinner table chatting for hours about my classes, the Spanish language, Chilean history, her life experience and how Chile’s history has shaped it, and much more. I’m still very much in contact with my host mother and I hope to return in the next few years to see her and to visit the ski resorts around Santiago. My host mother is one of the nicest people I’ve ever known–sometimes, after returning from going out, I was surprised to find a juice box and snacks waiting for me on my bedside table.
Santiago is Stanford’s only study abroad program in the Americas and it really is a window into the world of South America. Europe’s great, but I wanted a study abroad experience that would really broaden my horizons and expose me to places, accents, and cultures I’d never experienced before. My time in Santiago did just that.