As part of my industrial engineering degree, I completed a semester abroad at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago de Chile. First of all I can say: I WANT TO GO BACK! Chile is a great country with super nice people, but also real bad guys. I’ll explain a few things below.
At the Universidad de Chile I took three courses: International Management, which was very labor-intensive but useful, globalization treaties and trade agreements and prevención de riesgos en equipos, which were not very labor-intensive but also less useful. The lessons are very schooled, consist mainly of group work and there is compulsory attendance, mostly 80%. However, the students there like to sign it for each other;) The professors generally take great care of foreign students, as they see them as an enrichment for their lessons. That means they speak more slowly if you ask them to and it doesn’t matter at all if you make linguistic mistakes.
I felt very comfortable at the university. There is always an introductory event where you can get to know your future international colleagues right away. You don’t have to be afraid that you could stay alone, as everyone is out to make friends;) The university organizes trekking tours, dance courses etc. (but often a bit overpriced!) And you can use the gym for free, as well as at other sporting events such as (also girls’) soccer games, Zumba or climbing on the climbing wall free of charge. The international representatives at the university are always ready to answer any questions. So I rate the university itself with one: TOP!
Now I come to real life! Since I only had to go to university twice a week, this was a minor matter for me. When I arrived, I was already able to speak Spanish so well from previous stays abroad that I was able to communicate with anyone in Central America or Spain without any problems. When I arrived in Chile, I didn’t understand ANYTHING at first! They abbreviate any word (no más becomes noma), have completely different words for a wide variety of things and the sentences mainly consist of `hueon´ (age, friend, Digga…) and ´wea´ (whatnot). To do this, they are pronounced at the speed of light. However, at the end of my stay abroad I was able to understand almost everything and if you can speak Chilean Spanish then you can speak Spanish from all over the world.
I lived in a student house with 9 international students in Bellavista, the city’s party district. There is something going on every day and it is located directly on San Christobal, a mountain that is well suited for jogging or hiking, and from which you have a breathtaking view of the gigantic city. Highly recommended also at night! (Walk to the UDC: 20 minutes)
Most people are super helpful and often invite you to their house. But I give the security situation a big one: FLOP! But I was really unlucky. Once our rented car was broken into in broad daylight in a crowded parking lot while we were only 10 minutes away. Backpacks gone !! And what is a backpacker without a backpack… However, people can see exactly which cars are rented, which preferred destinations are, since tourists usually have nice treats with them. Another time a man just put his hand in my jacket pocket while I was about to load my (new) backpack onto the bus. (You always use the situations in which you are distracted). Otherwise I stupidly put my backpack next to me for a moment. A couple took a short distraction and he was gone. NEVER put things anywhere or take them out of your sight. The fourth time was a real attack in Argentina, when my backpack was torn from my body, but I captured it back. However, this happened in a dangerous neighborhood, which I did not know at the time. Also when traveling, ALWAYS inform in advance where you can go and where not, because it can also happen to YOU, which I previously thought was impossible. However, you should NEVER defend yourself, it could have turned out differently. Many of my friends have also been robbed at least once.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check hyperrestaurant.
As soon as you leave the big cities there is PEACE. You can hitchhike without any problems and you won’t get robbed. The nature is really BREATHTAKING! The Atacama Desert, Patagonia but also the Cajon del Maipo (1 hour from Santiago) is an absolute MUST! The beaches are not that great, but the city of Valparaiso (2 hours from Santiago) is very spectacular with its winding alleys decorated with grafitti.
The earthquakes that one will experience there with great certainty are also spectacular. Since Chile is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is almost permanently shaken by small earthquakes. While the foreigners mostly tremble with fear, the Chileans stay relaxed because it is a completely normal thing for them and mostly nothing happens.
Despite everything that happened to me, I would do the semester abroad again immediately. It’s a UNIQUE experience and taught me a lot and I’ve grown up. You experience an incredible amount. That’s why I say: DONT DREAM IT, DO IT!