Study Spanish in Santiago, the Chilean capital that combines South American charm with all the conveniences of a modern sophisticated city.
Santiago makes a dramatic first impression, with the Andes forming a breathtaking backdrop throughout the city. Home to nearly half of the country's population, the capital is a thriving, modern city with world-class museums, restaurants and boutique shops. Santiago is currently having its moment in the limelight as visitors from all around the world are being enchanted by the city's cosmopolitan atmosphere, with journalists labeling it one of South America's coolest cities.
Within Santiago you will find a microcosm of different communities, each with their own style and feel. Spend a lazy afternoon in the cafes and shops in trendy Lastarria, have a wild night out in young, vibrant Bellavista, discover new flavors in the busy, down-to-earth markets of Patronato, sip cocktails in the elegant Manhattan-style bars in Las Condes and Vitacura, or admire the street art in Brasil and Yungay. In the very centre, you will find the city's most iconic buildings, including the seat of the President, Palacio de La Moneda, and the central Plaza de Armas square with its neoclassical cathedral. Here there are also some of the city's most popular museums, such as the Precolombino (where you can see pre-Hispanic art from all over South America). However, the city's most impressive museum is located a few metro stops away: the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos is a must-visit for understanding recent Chilean history. The museum details the 1973 military coup and the following period of Pinochet's dictatorship, using these events to encourage reflection on themes of respect and tolerance.
From the city, there are many places you can easily visit in a day trip including the artistic coastal town of Valparaíso, the modern beach-side city of Viña del Mar, the vineyards in the Maipo and Casablanca Valleys and the ski resorts of Farellones and Portillo. However, if you are looking to escape the city bustle, there's no need to go outside Santiago. The city is full of beautiful parks, such as the Parque Metropolitano, where you can take a cable car or furnicular to the top of San Cristobal hill for a view across the city – the perfect spot for a picnic. Located exactly in the centre of Chile, Santiago is also a fantastic base for exploring the rest of this beautiful country, having good transport links to both the North and the South.
Throughout Chile, various words and phrases are used that you will not find in other Spanish speaking countries. In more rural areas you will find that even more 'Chilenismos' are used and that locals will not be very aware that they are using specifically Chilean language, so communication outside the capital can be more challenging for less advanced Spanish speakers. Santiaguinos (as the locals in Santiago are called) are more used to adapting their Spanish for foreigners and will be very patient with Spanish beginners, so it is a great place to take a Spanish course before you visit other parts of the country. Although more Chilean young people now speak English, knowing other languages is still relatively uncommon so you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your language skills, especially if you move away from the standard tourist haunts.
Contact us at our Santiago based Yalea office and our experts will help you plan your Spanish language course and Chilean adventure!