It took me a very, very long time to decide to do a semester abroad… Not because I was afraid of going abroad for a long time (I was in Australia and New Zealand after graduating from high school), but because I wasn’t sure what it ultimately brings me and whether it is worth investing that much money.
But I can say with full conviction: It’s worth it!
After I had decided to do my semester abroad in South America to improve my Spanish skills and satisfy my desire to travel, I had to look for a suitable university, as unfortunately my university does not have a partner university in Spanish-speaking countries.
It was pretty quick and easy with MicroEDU. All the necessary documents and information were there in next to no time. Good for me because I applied pretty close to the deadline. The confirmation wasn’t long in coming and the application process was already over.
To be honest, I haven’t made any major preparations for my stay abroad and that is also not necessary;) You don’t need a tourist visa and the university even advises against it because it is just unnecessary effort. When entering Chile, you can get a tourist visa that is valid for 90 days. So you have to make sure that you leave before the end of these 90 days and then come back in again and again for 90 days
. But this is not a problem, as Mendoza in Argentina, for example, is only a few bus hours away and is also worth a visit.
Otherwise, I can recommend applying for a credit card and getting vaccinated against yellow fever if necessary. No special vaccinations are necessary in Chile itself; However, if you are planning to travel a little longer, you should definitely find out more.
I also booked a hostel for the first few nights in order to have a direct contact point.
There is a transfer service offered by the Universidad de Chile, but I didn’t use it as I arrived on a different day.
However, there are numerous ways to get into the city at the airport. The easiest way is with Transvip. One drives for 6,000 Pesos, about 10 euros, in a kind of “large collective taxi” to the desired address. It’s safe and quick and highly recommended. Especially at the beginning you should definitely not take a taxi, as the drivers will most likely riot you.
Many people reacted in astonishment when I answered the question: “Where do you live in Chile?” With “No idea”, since they assumed I would live in a student residence or would have looked for an apartment in advance. But as already mentioned, I spent the first few nights in a hostel and started looking for an apartment relatively quickly. The website www.compartodepto.cl is definitely a great help when looking for an apartment. I found my new home there – Casona. It was perfect! I lived with about 25-30 other people (both Chileans and international students / workers) in a house with a large garden and pool. I think i needn’t mention that under these circumstances I quickly made new contacts and also enjoyed the national drink pisco relatively quickly and often;) The house is located in Providencia, one of the safest areas in Santiago and you can reach both university and metro stations and that Bella Vista party district within walking distance. Since the owner has changed, unfortunately I cannot provide any contact details.
I paid around € 300 a month (internet, electricity, cleaning lady, pool cleaning and really cool roommates included) and unfortunately had to find out that living in Santiago is more expensive than I expected.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check oxfordastronomy.
The Universidad de Chile is located relatively close to the center and is easy to reach. The building is pretty modern and well equipped.
Most courses at the Universidad de Chile require at least 80% attendance.
You put together your own schedule and have a week to look at all possible courses and drop courses. There are both Spanish and English courses, although – due to my low level of Spanish – I took 3 out of 4 courses in English.
I chose the courses “HRM”, “International Business”, “Latin America in World Affairs” and “Vitivinicultura”. It is very different what is required in the respective courses or what the exams look like. In general, however, there are midterms and at the end the final exams (in Latin America in World Affairs, instead of the final exams, for example, you only have to write a term paper and give a presentation).
In all subjects you have to read a lot and often have a lot to do during the semester, such as weekly reading tests (in HRM) or various case studies and projects.
In the introductory week, a Spanish placement test will also be carried out to determine the respective Spanish level and the corresponding course. However, since I had another course at the same time, I was unfortunately unable to take the Spanish course, although I did not necessarily hear positive things about the course and its professor from other participants;)
The Universidad de Chile also offers a variety of sports courses (also dance classes), as well as a free fitness studio (which is very sparsely furnished)
It should be said that many professors take your travel plans into consideration when you ask them. Even the exams have been postponed for us – so take advantage of the foreigner bonus;)
If I were to travel through Chile, I probably wouldn’t spend an awful lot of time in Santiago, but Santiago is just a great city to live in. Especially after traveling through other countries in South and Central America, I can say that it is very “civilized” and not very different from European cities.
The metro system is great, even if I would avoid rush hour trips if I could.
In addition to the metro, there are also buses, not only within Santiago, but also to destinations such as Valparaiso / Vina del Mar (definitely go there, is super nice), Mendoza or the Atacama Desert.
You can actually find everything you need in Santiago, but unfortunately shopping is relatively expensive and you won’t find Aldi prices anywhere there. (Except maybe at La Vega, a very large market that not only offers fruit and vegetables, but also cheese, sausage, spices, etc., as well as cheap food)
Of course, partying shouldn’t be neglected, and Santiago has a lot to offer when it comes to that too. From Miercoles Po (the party series for international students) to Pub Crawl to Maestra Vida (the most famous salsa bar); There is something for everyone.
Since I know that many people are concerned about security in Chile, I can only say at this point: Take care of your things, don’t be careless, then nothing will happen to you. Personally, I wouldn’t classify Santiago as a dangerous city and nothing happened to me in the whole time and apart from a stolen handbag I haven’t heard anything negative from others and that happens in Germany too.
I also recommend that everyone take enough time and money with them to travel to the country or continent afterwards or during their studies. Chile offers an incredible number of possibilities and is not as big as other countries in South America. The Atacama desert, the sea, the lake region, Patagonia, glaciers, the Andes… Chile is just super versatile and beautiful, so take advantage of it and enjoy it:)
Even though it took me a long time to make my decision, I haven’t regretted it for a second. The first days were of course not that easy, especially because the Spanish of the Chileans is not what we mean by Spanish;) But even then you get used to it and then a semester in Chile is simply the best you can do.
So, quickly request the forms from MicroEDU and off you go…