Life in Santiago
Santiago, at least the center, is very similar to Europe, actually you can get all products relatively problem-free, but you may have to be prepared to pay more than in Germany. In general, shopping is relatively eventful; If you go to the supermarket at the wrong time, it can happen that you wait 20 minutes at the cash register, but you get used to it and avoid these times the next time. What is also not known from Germany are the bag packers at the cash registers; these are mostly students or pupils who earn extra money but are poorly paid. Usually they are given a small tip (100-200 Pesos).
Another experience is the metro: it is hopelessly overcrowded during hora punta (from 7:00 am – 9:00 am or 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm) and sometimes hopelessly afterwards; so it happens that you have to wait a few trains before you can get on. It is therefore advisable to live close to the university in order to avoid the metro – depending on the time, you pay between 570 and 680 CLP per trip, students pay 200 CLP, but this does not include exchange students unless they have a student visa and even then, the whole procedure is a bit complicated. The student visa is optional, you can also enter Chile with the tourist visa for 90 days and then simply return to and from the country. Both have their advantages: the university itself recommends the tourist visa, but some things are easier with the student visa.
Finding an apartment or a room is generally not difficult, on compartodepto.cl (looking for a Chilean flat share) there is a large selection. It is also advisable to wait until you are in Santiago before looking for an apartment, you can find an apartment quickly and you can bridge the time in the hostel. I had found my apartment beforehand and would have done it differently afterwards.
You can party well in Bellavista and in the discos in Las Condes, but you will find out all of that for yourself over time. You should watch out for your cell phone and wallet, as they are often stolen on the streets in Santiago. Otherwise it will happen every now and then that you feel light earthquakes (temblores) – the houses are built earthquake-proof, which is why such strengths, which would lead to panic in Germany, are perceived relatively soberly.
You should also be aware that Santiago and Chile are generally quite expensive; Anyone who expects to save money in Germany simply by staying in Santiago is wrong. Groceries from the supermarket are probably more expensive than in Germany, but you can go shopping for less at the market (La Vega). Sometimes it is also advisable to buy chocolate, for example, on the street (Alameda, Santiago’s main street).
The university advises against buying food on the street, but I found that quite harmless. The same vendors stand in front of the entrance to the FEN every day, selling for example sopaipillas (a deep-fried Chilean specialty).
For example, clothes are cheaper than in Germany, especially soccer jerseys are significantly cheaper (max. 35,000 Pesos) and if you have a Chile jersey, the Chileans will love you.
Activities in Santiago and Chile
Santiago is about 90 minutes by bus from Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, there and back you pay about 10,000 pesos and you have the beach there. Closer to Santiago are the Andes, where you can ski in winter – Chile po ‘or the Santiago Exchange Network have some offers. A little nicer but more difficult to reach (only by car) is Nevados de Chillán, here is the longest ski slope in Latin America and even if it is expensive, it is worth it.
7 teams from Santiago play in the first division and you can, for example, visit a lot of soccer games (Universidad de Chile, Universidad Católica, Colo Colo etc.) and if you have the opportunity next year (2015) to go to Santiago in the fall semester (German summer semester) to go, you should definitely do that. Then the Copa America takes place in Chile from June to July and the atmosphere in Chile is really fantastic (not comparable to Germany). The advantage of the spring semester, however, is that you are in Chile on September 18, the national holiday; it’s not like October 3rd in Germany but like a huge multi-day party.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check militarynous.
Spanish in Chile
It is often said that Chileans speak the worst Spanish and indeed it can be problematic at first. Since I came to Chile with a good knowledge of Spanish, I only had difficulties getting used to it. However, I consider learning Spanish in Chile to be almost impossible; many letters are swallowed (for example pesao instead of pesado, the S is rarely pronounced), the tú-form is also different (e.g. hablái instead of hablas, estái instead of estás or querís instead of quieres, tenís instead of tienes, podís instead of puedes…) and es there are lots of “Chileanism” that can also add to the confusion. It feels like either cachái (understood?), Weon or po ‘occurs in every sentence.
It all sounds complicated, but you get used to it and after a certain time you start to speak like that yourself and you start to use the Chilenismos. Tip: Talk to the Chileans as much as possible, with the other exchange students you will only speak English and therefore hardly learn any Spanish. The advantage: if you have mastered “Chilean”, you will hardly have any problems understanding people in other Spanish-speaking countries, unless you speak Chilean, then they will not understand you.
I’m glad I chose Chile and would do it again and again. Of the Latin American countries, the country has the greatest resemblance to Europe and I think it is easiest to settle in. There is hardly a country that has more diversity to offer in terms of nature and landscapes, and there is a lot to discover. I felt very comfortable there and plan to go back to Chile after finishing my studies.