The normal school day starts at 8:30 am and ends at 4.45 pm from Monday to Thursday, and at 2 pm on Friday. Because the school day is long, each 2nd-period, students have a break with lunch at 1 pm for 45 minutes to an hour. The relationship between teachers and students in Chile is formal but warm and full of respect between both parties. Students will get to school using public transportation or will be taken by the host parents, family or friends. The public transportation is pretty easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
School is split into two semesters. The first semester runs from early March to early July, and the second runs from late July to the middle of December. There is a 3-week winter break in the middle of July. Students will participate in all school activities and mandatory examinations just like their Chilean counterparts. All classes are held in Spanish, so a basic understanding of the language is necessary for students to be able to follow their coursework. Uniforms are worn at both public and private schools. After school students can enjoy sports, clubs, extracurricular activities, or Spanish lessons, depending on their language needs.
Host families are either in cities, small towns or villages. It is very common for families to live close to extended family. Students will experience the “extended family” culture in Chile. Chilean people are very warm and open; they tend to bond very quickly. Students can expect to become a member of the family and will be asked to help around the house like any other family member.
Like many South American cultures, meals are an important time usually spent with family. A typical breakfast consists of a combination of breads, cheese, jelly, cold cuts, juice, tea, and the famous Nestle instant coffee that Chileans seem to love. Lunch is always the largest meal of the day and traditionally two main dishes are served. Around 5 pm. Chileans take “once,” an afternoon tea that combines either tea, instant coffee, pastries, small sandwiches, avocado, scrambled eggs, jam, etc. Around 8 pm, most families serve dinner, which is usually a single but substantial dish.
Students are given some independence, but will always have to ask permission when spending time away with friends. Some host families will speak English, but not all. Students should use this opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the Spanish language.