Student Stories: More Alike Than Different

​​Chile and Oregon have a unique relationship in the world: they exist at similar latitudes in completely opposite hemispheres. This has led to similar ecosystems and climates, something that affords a valuable learning experience for students from Oregon State University.

Allison Starkenburg

Each year, CoF International’s faculty-led program Mountains to the Sea: Ecosystems of Chile takes students to the Southern Hemisphere to learn about the forestry sector there. Allison Starkenburg, now a third year student in Natural Resources from southern California, participated in this program in 2018. 

Students arrived in Valdivia, a city in southwestern Chile, but also traveled out to coastal reserves and research forests while they were there. They worked with students and faculty from Universidad Austral de Chile as well. The year Allison participated, the program also included a visit to Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve.

Allison chose this program because its week-long format was perfect for her busy schedule. With all of her coursework so planned out, a short program that took place during a term break was a great option to still get in some travel abroad without getting off schedule. The program topic also appealed to her career goals to work in the natural resources management field in the future. This program afforded her the opportunity to learn about different management styles and perspectives, especially in the field of forestry and in a similar forest ecosystem to Oregon.

Her favorite parts of the trip were the visit to Huilo Huilo’s ecotourism resort and Universidad Austral de Chile’s arboretum. The arboretum helped expose her to the different types of plant life in the area, which was very helpful as the starting point of their week-long trip focusing on Chilean ecosystems. The arboretum currently includes samples of 400 different exotic species and 450 native species, situated on 64 hectares that are open to the public. Another favorite of Allison’s was the opportunity to interact with Chilean students from the Universidad Austral de Chile. The OSU students were able to talk to the Chilean students about their lives, studies, and culture and just have fun learning together. She also truly enjoyed the opportunity to experience the Chilean style of forest and protected area management in a variety of settings throughout the week.

The best advice Allison can offer to anyone on these programs is to be flexible. Go with the flow as much as possible! As in any experience, things can and do go wrong, and sometimes the unexpected can lead to the most memorable moments. She would also recommend studying up on the areas you are visiting and knowing what you want to get out of the experience, in order to ask the right questions while you are there. 

If you are interested in the Mountains to the Sea program or our other short term study abroad programs, visit our website or contact Kerry Menn!

Apply for a faculty-led program today!

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