Since I have chosen Spanish as a second foreign language at my home university and the focus of my degree is on the English language, I decided to study in a Spanish-speaking country to improve my language skills. Furthermore, Chile is one of the safest, most developed and most advanced countries in South America, which further reinforced my decision. I already knew before my stay abroad that I would then travel through South America for 2 months and thought Chile was a suitable travel destination and a good starting point for visiting other countries. With these assumptions I should also be right. Also is the Universidad de Chile one of the best universities in the country and with MicroEDU having this on their program it was easy to make a decision.
The preparation for my semester abroad was much easier than thought. Since there are actually only a few forms to fill out and College Conact takes care of everything very well, the organization is easier and less complicated than you might imagine. Furthermore, requires the Universidad de Chile no student visa, so you can simply as “tourist” to enter, which is easier and cheaper than obtaining a student visa. You only have to leave the country once within the first 90 days and then you can stay in Chile again for 90 days. Since it is very easy to get from Santiago to Mendoza in Argentina, for example traveling is absolutely no problem. Otherwise you have to get a passport if you don’t already have one and off you go!
The easiest way to find an apartment is with the help of the numerous placement portals such as “Roommate and flat finder” on Facebook or through other exchange students who have already found an apartment. The Faculdad de Economia y Negocios offers a buddy program to help students find their way around the UDC and in Santiago. My buddy was very helpful and picked me up at the airport, showed me the city and even helped me find an apartment. However, not everyone was lucky. I would recommend booking a hostel from Germany (e.g. Hostal Providencia- 3min walk to the university) or AirBnb accommodation and then renting an apartment on site, as you can get an idea of the apartment and the location for yourself. I know it is a strange feeling to go abroad without a permanent home, but it is really not a problem to find a good apartment within the first 1-2 weeks. In this case, living close to the university also means living in the city center, which is of course pretty cool for students. That’s why I would definitely recommend living near the university.
Life in Santiago de Chile
There are certainly more beautiful cities in South America than Santiago, but I really enjoyed living and studying there for 4 months. There are not many sights and the smog and the dirty air are a bit annoying, but the location in central Chile at the foot of the Andes and close to beach resorts makes the city the perfect starting point for many different trips and excursions. Trekking and ski fans get their money’s worth and you can travel wonderfully to the south and north, which is highly recommended. Santiago offers a number of supermarket chains where you can actually get everything you need and in the Costanera Center (tallest building in South America) there is a very modern mall with good shopping facilities according to European standards. However, Chile is not cheap, one should be aware of that. However, large markets offer the opportunity to buy cheap fruit and vegetables. When it comes to security, I can say that I have always felt very safe and never had problems walking home alone at night, even if that may not be recommended. The fact that my apartment was across from a police station contributed to this, of course. From time to time you hear stories of robberies or taxi drivers threatening you and stealing your credit card, but nothing like that ever happened to me. Nevertheless, I would advise against normal taxis and use the “Uber” app instead, we all actually did that.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check naturegnosis.
Studied at the UDC
Studying at the FEN (Faculdad de Economia y negocios) is definitely associated with work, as most courses consist of two exams and the submission of essays and presentations. If you decide to only attend English courses, you will take courses that are mostly taken by exchange students. Since my home university only recognized a few courses and the schedule also overlapped, I only took two courses – “Latin America in Worlds Affairs” and “International Marketing”. To be honest, I found the technical level very low and it was no comparison to my subjects in Germany. With the Spanish courses, however, things are very different and you are really challenged by what I was able to see with my roommate. After all, it is one of the best universities in the country. “Latin America in Worlds Affairs” is particularly recommended, as Prof. Walter Sanchez is really a great guy with whom you can really have a good time. I would not recommend taking more than 4 courses, as you should enjoy your semester abroad a little.
The support from the International Center was really great. Regardless of the problem you had, Mrs. Rooney and Mrs. Dazin were always on hand to offer advice and assistance, and you had a very friendly relationship with them. They also organized a lot of activities for exchange students, which made for a change and I really have to say the ladies do a perfect job.
The campus is very centrally located near the Plaza Italia and has a large artificial turf field, a fitness studio, a climbing wall, a multipurpose court and table tennis tables.
Country and people
Getting used to Chile shouldn’t be too difficult, as Chile is probably the most European country in South America. Although everything is a bit slower and more complicated, Chile is relatively progressive compared to other countries in South America. Nevertheless, you should be aware that you are not in Europe and should take very good care of your valuables, which is especially true for the subway! Things like to get lost here and my entire bag including valuables was stolen from me in a bus, so be careful here.
When it comes to diversity, Chile is probably looking for its equals and is therefore perfect for traveling. Deserts, glaciers, beaches or fjords and great river landscapes – Chile really has it all.
When it comes to language, you should know that the Chileans speak extremely quickly and indistinctly, which is quite difficult at the beginning, but of course improves over time. There are probably better countries to learn Spanish, but this is of course also possible in Chile, it simply requires a little more effort.
You should definitely save some money to explore South America. During the midterms you have two weeks off and after the semester you should definitely take some time to travel. If you opt for a tourist visa, you have to leave the country anyway, which Mendoza in Argentina is ideal for. With us everyone has actually been there once. Then there are of course the highlights in Chile such as the Atacama Desert and Patagonia, but La Serena in the small north and the small south are also highly recommended. My personal highlight was the Torres del Paine National Park where I went on an 8 day hike with 4 other students. The landscape there is absolutely breathtaking and the hiking trails there are some of the best in the world. Then you can also visit the island of Tierra del Fuego, which represents the end of the world, so to speak. The Atacama Desert can be combined with trips to Bolivia (the Salar de Uyuni is a must) and Peru, which I have also done and can only recommend to you. Fortunately, air travel in Chile is relatively cheap and there are great connections to Rio, Buenos Aires, Colombia etc.
The 6 months in South America were probably the best of my life and an absolutely unique experience. It will definitely bring you forward on a human level and, by the way, you will of course polish your language skills and your CV. You get to know an incredible number of people from all over the world and form really good friendships. Dare to take the step abroad, it really isn’t that wild, and with the help of MicroEDU, organization is a breeze.