I found the climate in Santiago very pleasant. It hardly ever rains, the sun always shines, but it’s never uncomfortably hot, as one might associate with South America. In winter, however, it can get very cold at night and the houses in Santiago are hardly insulated against it and usually have no heating, so I always slept with 4 blankets in winter, although I am very cold-resistant. But the time when it was so cold is over quickly. By September at the latest, you will no longer be cold at night.
Unlike the rest of South America, Chile is very expensive. Expect to spend about as much as Germany here. Groceries are usually a bit more expensive, bus travel cheaper. Tip is optional. But I would recommend you give something to the bag packers in the supermarket (100-200 Pesos depending on the amount). The peso coins will soon be flying around everywhere in your room and the packers are happy about every peso, as these are not paid by the supermarket and are mostly schoolchildren and students. Taxi drivers, on the other hand, are not given tips (which is also not expected). In general, taking a taxi is very cheap in Santiago and the big advantage over Germany. They drive around en masse and you usually only pay 3-4 euros per trip.
The metro (approx. 1 euro per trip) is hopelessly overcrowded in rush hour and should be avoided at these times. But since taxis are so cheap, it’s usually not worth it in a larger group.
The Chileans are very friendly people, even if they are not as open as other South Americans. You just have to get to know them better first. However, where they lose all their friendliness is in traffic. The streets are mostly clogged and if you want to ride a bike, take care: there are no bike lanes.
After my arrival, I got together with a few other exchange students I had met there and looked for accommodation. Since there were four of us looking, only larger student houses came into question. It is much easier to search alone or as a couple, but living with fellow students also has great advantages. Your first point of contact should be compartodepto.cl, you will definitely find something there. How long you search depends on your needs. I recommend you look in Providencia or Bellavista. Make sure you can walk to the FEN. Under no circumstances should you plan to take the metro every day, as it is very overcrowded, as I said, and the costs are low. Providencia is a rather quiet residential area, Bellavista the party area. If you plan to party a lot – which I recommend – you can go looking in Bellavista. But it is not absolutely necessary. Since taxis are so cheap, you can also get to the bars and clubs from Providencia. It’s also a good way to get rid of the excess change.
I myself lived in the student house casa1060. The location is good, about 15-20 minutes on foot to the university, supermarkets can also be reached in 15 minutes on foot. However, I can only recommend living there to a limited extent. The owner also lives there and has made stranger rules over the years. For example, you can only have overnight visits 2 days a week (if your boyfriend / girlfriend comes to visit you, that’s a problem). The big advantage, of course, is that with so many people there is always someone to hang out with. Homesickness will definitely not arise. In the end, you have to know that yourself, but I would only consider that if you – like me – have set out to search with several people and accordingly need many rooms.
South America has a lot to offer. If I were you, I wouldn’t plan too much beforehand. There are always opportunities to go somewhere with other exchange students. There are a couple of long weekends during the semester and two weeks during the midterms. Usually the professors negotiate with them that any exams can be rewritten. In one subject – International Business – there were even two exam dates: one for exchange students and one for Chilean students, so that you had the entire two weeks off.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check thereligionfaqs.
Chile is very safe, you have nothing to fear. With a little common sense, nothing will happen. You just have to be careful of pickpockets and there are very many in Chile. Be especially careful in the metro!
A large travel backpack is very useful, but it won’t break your leg if you don’t have one. I didn’t take mine with me due to lack of space. In retrospect, I’m angry because there are people who have brought such a backpack through as hand luggage at Air France, but I probably wouldn’t risk it. You don’t need a sleeping bag, however. If you want to go to Patagonia to hike and camp, you can either borrow one from a fellow student or simply borrow one in Punta Arenas. That is not expensive.
And another tip for all men with larger feet: Finding the right shoes can drive you to despair in Santiago. In many shops there are shoes in a maximum of 43, sometimes even only 41. I have shoe size 45 and looked for a long time until I found a shop that has shoes in this size. The shop is called belsport and is located near the Plaza de Armas.