After living in the USA for a year during my school days, I was looking for a new adventure for my semester abroad. Since I was already fluent in English and always wanted to learn Spanish, the number of countries was restricted relatively quickly. Spain was too close to me personally and too similar to Germany, so it should be South America.
On our university server I found a report from a student who studied at the U de Chile last year. She was put there through MicroEDU, as our university does not have a partner university in South America. I was able to find all the information I needed on the Internet and the South America supervisor Tatjana was also very helpful and answered all my questions quickly.
After completing the application, the rest of the process between MicroEDU and FEN went through. The next thing I held in my hand was my letter of acceptance in May. So it should start a short time later in July – to Chile, a country that I knew absolutely nothing about at the time, except that it is far away, incredibly long and the first hits in the Google image search were wonderful. I would never have suspected that my virtually non-existent expectations could be exceeded so much.
In Germany, I belong to the student category that you come across in the courses during the semester, but who basically only become active four weeks before the exams and almost move into the library, in order to then work on the whole semester. So the schooled Chilean system was definitely a change for me. Not only was there compulsory attendance, but also weekly submissions, group reports, presentations and quizzes. So that you had constant semester-related projects. In the end, the exams weren’t so decisive and if you missed an assignment due to travel plans, it wasn’t the end of the world either.
There was a lot of collaboration in groups, mostly intercultural groups. Which could sometimes be nerve-wracking and exhausting due to language barriers and different understandings of time and work, but in the end it was one of the most valuable experiences of my time in Chile.
The courses were much more manageable than in German universities, so that after a while many of the professors even knew the names of the students. This was definitely an advantage, as it meant turning a blind eye to the internationals’ travel plans.
I chose four courses. In Negocios I, I ended up in the Spanish section by chance. However, since this did not only fit perfectly into the plan for me and ultimately half of the non-Spanish-speaking course had the same idea, the professor then held the event in Spanish. As I said, a lot of professors are pretty cooperative. However, the course itself did not provide me with any new knowledge, it only scratched the surface of any international business topic. Nevertheless, this was the course with the greatest workload, in which we had to constantly submit and present reports and cases.
My second course was Intercultural Business Challenges in Latin America, which was much more interesting because it was more closely related to South America. We talked about the past of the individual countries and the entire continent, how this has influenced the economy and how one should adapt one’s strategies according to this and other cultural values and norms.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check historyaah.
As a third course, I had Globalization, Treaties and Trade Agreements. The professor was definitely entertaining, but fewer and fewer students were able and willing to follow him over time. Most of the time his assistant held the event or there were lectures by the students. Compared to the other courses, you could at least get good grades here with very little effort.
The three courses were recognized by my university as a major in “International Management”. I also had to take another course, in my case Urban Economics. The professor was very good and was able to convey her content in an interesting way. In conclusion, I think that this was my favorite course and that I took away the most from this course, even if it often involved reading a few hundred pages of economic texts up to a major query in the next lecture.
Kaia and Stephanie took over the on-site support. For any question you had an answer in your inbox within a very short time or you could walk into your office at any time and ask personally. Kaia took her job very seriously and sometimes meant it almost too well. She knew every student by name, even those she had only seen once, and really supported us from start to finish. In my opinion, the best idea of the two was to set up a Facebook group before the beginning of the semester, where you had already seen the other students and they all agreed to live in the same hostel.