Karla Jofré Maldonado has always had a love for travel and adventure. Currently, she has the opportunity to share that love of people and culture with students as a Resident Director in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile. Through her position with Academic Programs International (API), she gets to inspire students every day.
What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I thought it would be a good experience for me because it sounded really exciting and new. I love different cultures and people so it seemed to be the perfect job, and it is!
What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Chile is well-known for our wine, landscapes, and fresh food- but mostly for being very friendly people! The whole country is really interesting. We have five World Heritage Sites, officially named by UNESCO, and Valparaiso, where one our programs is located, is one of them!
Vina del Mar (another city with an API program) and Valparaiso are very different ‘siblings’ that complement each other well. The first one is a beautiful beach city full of life and good restaurants, while Valparaiso is a funky, street art capital with many cafes.
What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
I played violin for 7 years. I stopped playing when I was 13 and never touched a violin again!
What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
I love sharing my knowledge of my country, people and culture with students while learning new things from them! I also love working with API.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
Sometimes students don’t embrace certain aspects of Chilean culture because they are afraid of trying something new. For example, they may prefer to go a well known fast food restaurant instead of trying local food. That is challenging because they want to feel at home by going to places they already know, but they are only making the process of leaving their comfort zone harder.
What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Overcoming anxiety when speaking Spanish. Typically, students know a lot more Spanish than they think, but they are so focused on trying express themselves perfectly that they don’t give themselves enough time to adjust to the language and culture.
What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
Be open minded and understand that things abroad are not better or worse, they are just different!
It is ok not to know everything, but do some research before going abroad. Sometimes students forget that while it’s summer in the USA, in South America we are in the middle of winter!
What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
I want to say hiking shoes because there is so much to do here, but I think that the only thing you really need for living in Chile is a good attitude towards adventure and new experiences.
What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Be patient with yourself and others. Give yourself some time to adjust and let others do the same.
If you think that going abroad will make your problems disappear, think again! Your problems or daily inconveniences will be exacerbated by the fact you are far away from your family and friends.
You are here to learn, but that process includes mostly learning about yourself.
To learn more about attending Karla’s program, check out this link!