As the semester abroad approached, it quickly became clear to me that I would go to Chile. The destination at the other end of the world seemed very appealing due to its unfamiliarity. Preparing for the stay was quick and easy, even though my German university was not a direct partner university.
Course choice and fees
Here I realized that I would not continue to pay my semester fee from Lower Saxony, but the Chilean tuition fee, which is many times higher. It really depends on the status of your universities and how many courses you are required to take. For me there were four courses á 850 $ + 500 $ general fee…
Do not expect flexibility at the Universidad de Chile when it comes to courses, here courses are given priority (of course) to locals before the internationals are allowed to argue about them and it corresponded more to the feeling of a tight crowd. In any case, you should communicate well with the German foreign coordinator! The academic system is unfortunately not that well developed on these points, but more on that later.
Living in Santiago
My arrival was preceded by five weeks of traveling through South America, so that I was already well prepared in most facets for the prevailing mentality. Chile is (too?) very relaxed in some aspects. Fortunately, I found accommodation with friends at first, but after a day’s search I found a smart apartment not far from the university (cost: 330 € via compartodepto.cl). I still live here with a Chilean and am now doing a four-month internship. The apartment is on the 15th floor and is very quiet for traffic and the location. Balcony and view on two sides of other high-rise buildings and unfortunately also of smog. This will definitely be part of everyday life in your time and can really take away a little quality of life. Especially in the winter months (June, July) the air rises above this city surrounded by the Andes. It doesn’t rain very often either…
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check programingplease.
When the sun is shining, those worries are of less concern. Free time was not neglected when choosing a course (lecture was only on Mondays and Thursdays) and there are several parks throughout the city, especially the San Cristobal with the Virgen, which invite you to outdoor activities. A bike can be an advantage in the city, as the rush hour of the metro can be unbearable (please take care of your things there and also if you are only walking in the tourist areas!) But otherwise the infrastructure is actually well developed – There are buses nationwide, temporary bike and scooter rental is possible in some parts of the city and of course there is also Cabify and Uber.
Popular destinations for me are the “farmers market” La Vega, a large market that is cheaper than the supermarkets. The cost of living can still quickly leave a gap in the wallet in the average, student consumption. The ferias or weekly markets are even cheaper, you just have to ask what’s nearby. The regular visits intensified my cooking skills and my Spanish in particular, even if it became more Chilean, which is characterized by slurred sentences and words that do not exist in one sense or the other, but it is an advantage here to have one or the other Mastering other clichés, but the foreign language courses at the university also help.
What is it like to be a student? The courses in English, in particular, were not too difficult; the aim here is more about proving yourself in dealing with professors and fellow students in a series of lectures and group work. The Chileans have their very own idea of efficiency there, but I felt as if I had come to South America to broaden my cultural horizons. There are some duties in between that can be handled with normal time management.
What you should be aware of are the series of calls for or against strikes. If the strike is too long, the semester can be extended and the reasons are sometimes flimsy. The Chilean education system and general politics have been in a state of upheaval for some time and if you go on strike, expect tear gas and water cannons – here we are used to a different form of exercise of power. Well, it’s just a little wilder than here in Germany.
In addition to the unregulated big city, the elongated country invites you to take a variety of excursions from the deserts of the north to the glaciers of the south and from the sea to the mountains. Use your time!