University and courses
The FEN itself is about ten minutes walk from Plaza Baquedano and is a very modern building. The International Office takes very good care of the exchange students and you can always go there if you have questions or any other problems. The semester starts with an introductory event in which everything else important that you need to know for the semester is explained. The professors I had were all nice. There is a very large selection of Spanish courses and also some courses in English. The English courses are geared towards exchange students and are a little easier. Personally, I only had Spanish courses, including three economics courses (Microeconomía II, Macroeconomía IIand Economía Política) and a course in the field of Negocios (Clínica de Microempresas). The courses all mean a lot of work and the economics courses were unfortunately very, very difficult for me because I did not derive any mathematical models at my German university. However, the FEN is very mathematical and theoretical in this area. I found the economics courses very difficult, but as an exchange student you usually get an upgrade from the professors if you show that you make an effort. The Negocios course was not difficult, but it was quite a lot of work, it was a kind of management consultancy for small businesses, we worked with real small business owners and their companies and developed a business plan to improve the companies. This course was very interesting in my opinion. If you want to take other courses in addition to your compulsory courses, without paying and without having your credits credited, you can take part in these courses as an Oyente if they are not yet full. In the first week you can attend courses and then again courses that you do not want to take or that do not fit into the schedule, drop and add others. In addition, the FEN has many teams of different sports that you can play in.
Leisure and travel
In Santiago itself there are a few things you can do. In addition to the classics such as climbing Cerro San Cristobal (great view over Santiago and the Andes, if the smog is not too thick) or Santa Lucia (very nicely designed), the city center and the government district, it is also interesting, just for once to go to the Barrio Italia or to Ñuñoa, which are very beautiful parts of the city. There are guided tours in the center that are free, but you are asked for a tip and you can decide for yourself how much the tour was worth to you.
From Santiago you can make very good weekend trips to Cajon del Maipo for trekking (there are also many other ways to trek around Santiago), or to the sea to Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Reñaca, Pichilemu for surfing or simply enjoying the beach. However, on the beach it is usually extremely windy and the wind is very cold, as is the water. You can also go to Mendoza (Argentina), which is right across the border with Argentina. The many parks between the streets are a great way to relax. In these parks there is usually simple sports equipment that is also used.
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Overall, Chile is a great country to travel to. My travel route started in Pucón, where I went rafting, climbed the active Villarica volcano, did a Cabalgata tour (riding up the mountain on horses) and a bike tour and went swimming in the hot springs in the middle of the night. There are many other leisure activities there, especially sporting ones. On the Isla de Chiloé I made a tour to the penguin rocks (I was only in the north of the island) and if you are already there you should also visit the beautiful wooden churches Chiloe is known for being a World Heritage Site. From Punta Arenas I took a tour of the Isla Grande Tierra del Fuego to see a colony of king penguins. Further south from Puerto Natales you can go on a great trek through the Torres del Paine National Park. In the north, San Pedro de Atacama should be mentioned as a destination, from there I made a tour to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, a salt desert. Beautiful and highly recommended! However, you should know that the tour is at a certain altitude, so that altitude sickness can occur in many. Here you can get coca leaves and mate tea, which help against this. (I lay flat one out of four days, others had no problems at all). But Iquique is also a great place to just relax and enjoy the beach. Here the sea is a little warmer and you can swim here without a wetsuit. From Iquique you can also quickly reach the next world cultural heritage site, the disused saltpeter mines Humberstone and Santa Laura. In Iquique or San Pedro de Atacama, sandboarding is a highly recommended activity.
Of course, you don’t just have to travel through Chile, the surrounding countries also offer incredibly great travel destinations, such as Cusco in Peru, Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru, and La Paz is also worth a visit (attention, risk of culture shock and it is otherwise considered not to be so for sure).
In retrospect, despite the difficult courses, I would have decided on the UDC and Chile again. I would probably have chosen other courses, but everything else was just amazing. The people, the country anyway, everything was worth every penny and I would recommend everyone to go here for a semester abroad! I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Chile!