ANU student Milou Hofman has recently been to Chile supported by the Bernard Wheelahan Travel grant. Below Milou shares some comments and photos from his trip.
I am in my final year of a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science)/Bachelor of Development Studies. Within my development studies degree, my minor was Spanish and I chose to focus my regional specialisation on the Latin America region.
Travelling to South America to look at some of the development and environmental issues I had studied over the past years first hand, and to develop Spanish fluency was something I had dreamt of doing since first learning Spanish in first year.
Chile appealed to me due to its fascinating social history and incredible geographic and ecological diversity, running along almost the entire west coast of the continent ranging from Patagonia in the south to the Atacama desert in the north, and bordered on the east and west by the Pacific Ocean and Andes mountain range.
I saw studying in Santiago to be a perfect opportunity to solidify my understanding of the issues and challenges facing the region and to really broaden my knowledge within my area of study while putting my Spanish skills to the test. The wide range of habitats inspired me, being very different to those looked at in my environmental studies back in Canberra, and learning the social history of the country and continent as a whole strongly drew me in, Santiago having been the scene of many social and political transformations over the past decades and the University of Chile having many courses focusing on these changes.
The natural interface of my degrees being sustainable development, and Chile being the most ‘developed’ country in South America meant that I saw Chile and Santiago as the ideal place to base my exploration and studies of Latin America, and I was lucky enough to have received the Bernard Wheelahan travel grant to help make happen.