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Mary Clare Rigali: Study Abroad Celebrity


Mary Clare Rigali

Class of 2014

Study Abroad Program: Santiago, Chile

Majors: Economics/Theology



What is your go to study spot?

The La Católica humanities library on the main campus of San Joaquin is a convenient study spot and it has a room full of giant recliners just for sleeping if you need a break! Also, there is a fabulous Starbucks on Apoquindo in Las Condes with free wifi and large Hesburgh-esque tables on the second floor. (Chileans really only drink instant coffee or espresso so I was quick to memorize all the nearby Starbucks and cafes that serve some fresh brewed “café de grano.”)

Where have you had the best “going out” experience?

Salsateca Maestra Vida in Bellavista. They have a live band and if you go early they offer free salsa lessons! But be warned, the nightlife or “carrete” in South America lasts until 5am… and that’s ending early.

Favorite place you’ve travelled outside of your particular study abroad city?

Torres del Paine in Patagonia. I hiked the “W” over Semana Santa. Lakes, mountains, and glaciers – I felt like I was in The Lord of the Rings!

What are your three essential travel accessories (e.g. clothes, items)?

  1. Hiking boots: Invest in some good ones. I miraculously received zero blisters while doing the 55 km W trek. 
  2. Aviator shades: Gotta protect those retinas!
  3. Vitamins: New country, food, water, etc. is always hard on your body so vitamins are a must. Specifically, I am a calcium addict! It makes a huge difference, especially in keeping your nails and hair healthy!

Where are you looking forward to traveling this semester?

Buenos Aires!! I’m heading there next weekend and cannot be more excited. Sorry Chile, but the Argentine accent is just THAT attractive. I can’t stay away.

What is your favorite or most interesting class?

“Economía de la Salud.” I’m the only gringa in this course so it’s forced me to get to know other students. The class focuses on comparing the healthcare and sanitation systems worldwide, which has been so fascinating because the Chilean healthcare system that offers both private and public options (although the public option is of much lower quality) has been under much scrutiny as of late.

Do you have an internship/volunteer position? If so, what is it?

I help out with English classes at Colegio Nuesta Señora de Andacollo. I work with the older kids, ages 15-18. The Congregación de la Santa Cruz runs the school, so I feel right at home.

What’s the weirdest thing to have happened to you abroad?

I once had a stray dog snoring loudly in the back of my philosophy classroom. No one even tried to make the dog leave, we just continued with class… typical Chile.

Best food you’ve had – and from where?

Pastel de choclos- a traditional dish with meat, corn, and veggies. My host abuelita made this when I was in our pre-program in rural Chile. ¡¡¡Que rica!!!

What do you miss most about Notre Dame?

I miss mah best gal Mary! She’s just so GOLDEN!

How do you stay in touch with friends and family in the states?

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are my social media trinity. Of course email is super reliable, but that’s no fun.

What’s your perfect day in (study abroad location)?

Early morning run to Monasterio Benedictino de Las Condes, toast and avocado for breakfast, head to my service site – colegio Andacollo, chat with the chicas during recess, go to midday Mass at the San Joaquin chapel, hit up Emporio de la Rosa for some manjar gelato in the afternoon, and finish off the day with a barbeque or “asado” with friends before going out on the town!

What do you anticipate you will miss the most about study abroad when you have to return home?

I will miss always greeting people with Chilean kisses. I will miss how wine is cheaper than water. I will miss having a professor cancel class so we can all go to the student protest for education reform.

Do you blog? Could you share the URL for your blog?

Unfortunately, in true Chilean fashion, I never really got around to doing a blog jaja.


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Katie Fusco

Notre Dame

A senior English and American Studies double major at the University of Notre Dame, Katie is passionate about media, education, and public history. 
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