Regarding safety, I have to say that I’ve heard a lot from other students, but luckily nothing has ever happened to me. Personally, I would say that Santiago is no more dangerous than any other big city. At night you should never walk through the streets alone and it is best to avoid taxi rides alone as a woman. But I did that too and I haven’t had a bad experience. As a woman, you should always carry your handbag close to you and never present your cell phone proudly, because it has disappeared faster than you can see. As in all large cities, you should be particularly careful in public places, stops and in the metro. Overall, however, Chile is one of the safest countries in South America.
Culture and people
I got to know the Chileans as very friendly people. Of course there are always exceptions and many stories may say the opposite, but my experiences have been consistently positive. Even as a foreigner, you were always greeted in an open and friendly manner and people were interested in the person and the history of why you come to Chile to study. In these conversations I also found it very interesting to find out what the Chileans know and think about us Germans. In addition, the hospitality of the Chileans was overwhelming and I was always offered help.
What impressed me most personally was the atmosphere and solidarity during the World Cup. I was lucky enough to be in Chile at the time and watched all the games in public. I have never seen such a pride and cohesion in a nation. I learned that this sport connects people, whether poor or rich. And that’s how I felt when partying on the street and at the reception when the team returned. I am glad that I was able to experience this energy and its importance for the country.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check estatelearning.
Only the work attitude at the university took a lot of getting used to for me. Chileans are generally very calm and relaxed when it comes to work and try to get there with the smallest or no effort. This was especially noticeable in group work with different cultures. Where other cultures are involved, the Chileans tend to hold back and try to avoid work because someone else could possibly do it for themselves. If they do decide to contribute something to the group work, it is usually one evening or even a few hours beforehand, which was sometimes the greatest challenge for me personally, as we go to work with a different attitude.
Furthermore, it often happens that, as a European, car or taxi drivers honk at you on the street and are called after you. This can be very annoying after a while, but then you should just overlook it.
Chile and all of South America is a paradise for backpackers and adventurous travel enthusiasts. Santiago serves as a suitable starting point, as the city is located in the middle of the country. The proximity to the Andes and the Pacific even makes it possible to go skiing within a day and later relax on the beach. Overall, Chile is a very diverse country and has a lot to offer.
During the semester I had the opportunity to travel to many parts of the country. The highlights were definitely Patagonia and the Atacama Desert, but weekend trips to Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, Cajon del Maipo or Mendoza (Argentina) will also remain unforgettable. Furthermore, I was fortunate that I had 10 days off during the midterm exam phase and was able to explore Bolivia and Peru, which was definitely worth the trip. After the end of the semester, I decided to go on a two-week road trip to the south (Chiloe, Puerto Varas, Valdivia, Pucon, etc.), which I can definitely recommend. But the other countries in South America also have a lot to offer and if the budget allows it after the semester and the time is there, there is still a lot to see.
For me personally, the semester in Chile was an unforgettable and wonderful time that I will never forget. During that time I learned a lot about a country and its culture, but also about the economic conditions and future prospects of the entire Latin American continent. By living with different people, I got to know new people from different cultures and was able to improve my language skills. Of course, during this time you often push your limits or grow beyond them, which helps you a lot personally.
I am glad that I was able to experience this time and also had the opportunity to get to know the diversity of the country. I can only recommend a semester abroad in Chile and especially at the Universidad de Chile.