After I decided to spend a semester abroad, the question quickly arose where I should go.
I quickly decided that I wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country to learn Spanish. However, since I had very limited knowledge of Spanish, it had to be a country where it was possible to attend English lectures and learn Spanish on the side.
The application itself was very easy. All I had to do was fill out the application documents and send them back to Münster. MicroEDU then organized the rest and a while later I got the good news that I had been accepted by the Universidad de Chile.
Since the approval from Chile came relatively late, there was not much time for preparations, which in retrospect was not particularly bad. But of course they did a little bit of research about the country in order to know at least a little where it would soon be going.
When entering Chile, you can do so with either a student visa or a tourist visa. The university in Chile advises students who only stay in Chile for one semester to take the tourist visa, as it is free and much less effort than the student visa. The only thing to note is that you are only allowed to stay in the country for 90 days and then have to leave the country. Since you will probably travel anyway, this is usually not a problem.;)
It is recommended that you book a bed in a hostel from Germany so that you have a point of contact straight away. The International Office here in Chile set up a Facebook group for us before the semester, so that we could agree which hostel the exchange students would go to. So we got to know each other in the hostel before the university started and we were able to start looking for an apartment from there.
The Universidad de Chile offers a shuttle service for exchange students on certain days before the start of the semester. But since I arrived on a different day, I couldn’t take advantage of this. Instead, I booked a shuttle service at the airport that takes you to the desired address in a shared taxi for around 6000 pesos. I would recommend this alternative to everyone, because at the beginning, especially if you don’t speak Spanish very well and look western, you tend to be ripped off by taxi drivers and have to pay a lot more.
There is also a shuttle bus that stops at various metro stations, but this too can be very confusing at first. So it’s worth paying a few pesos more and getting to your destination (in my case the hostel) comfortably with the shared taxi.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check payhelpcenter.
Many looked at me in amazement when I explained to them that I was traveling to Chile without a safe place to live and that I would only look for something on site. However, this is also what the university here in Chile advised us, as you often come across dubious providers on the Internet and you should never sign anything without having seen the place to stay in front of it.
That’s why I only looked for a room on site. Finding a room here is relatively easy. You can either hire an agency to find a room (for a fee) or register at compartodepto.cl. This is a website that is comparable to wg-gesucht.de. You create your profile and with this profile you can then write to providers or be contacted by providers yourself.
That’s how I found my room, which was perfect for my time in Chile. I lived close to the university (5-10min walk) with 14 other lovely people in the same house. The other roommates came from different countries (Chile, Finland, Holland, Poland, Spain, etc.) and there was always something going on. Of course it is a matter of taste to live with so many people, but the advantage, especially at the beginning, was that you never had to be alone, but at the same time you had your own place of retreat (your own room).
But friends of mine also lived in smaller shared apartments, so if a whole house is not for you, you can find something like that without any problems.
Buildings / equipment
The Facultad de Economía y Negocios of the Uniersidad de Chile is very close to the center and has good connections to the metro and bus network and is relatively modern and well equipped compared to other faculties and other universities in Chile. All rooms have a computer and projector. In addition, there are several computer rooms and a very well-equipped library, which offers plenty of space for learning, either individually or in group rooms.
The choice of courses is very diverse and there are courses in Spanish as well as a good selection of English courses if you are not yet confident enough for lectures and exams with your Spanish.
In addition, the faculty offers a fitness studio that can be used free of charge, as well as a variety of sports and fitness classes, ranging from climbing to Zumba, and which could be taken by anyone.
Before the lectures really started, we had a welcome day on which we were greeted by everyone in charge of the International Office and our supervisors, Kaia Range and her assistants, introduced themselves. In addition, we received useful information about the university and life in Santiago.
During the Welcome Day, we were also given a tour of the university and its various buildings and had the opportunity to take a placement test for our Spanish level so that we could later be enrolled in the appropriate Spanish course if we wanted to.
The Welcome Day also helped to get to know the other exchange students better and to establish contacts.
In many courses there is a compulsory attendance of 80%, which many professors attach great importance to and therefore every lecture carefully check who is there and who is not. Accordingly, you should think carefully about how much and especially when you want to or can travel during the semester, as it can happen that you fail the course if you are absent too much.
Life in Santiago
If I were to travel through South America, Santiago probably wouldn’t necessarily be the city I would spend days exploring. The first impression can be very sobering, especially when you arrive in winter and everything is gray and cold. At first you see a city that neither looks really Latin American (as you imagine it), nor exudes a special charm, it is just a big city. Over time, however, you will find beautiful corners that invite you to have a coffee or a cocktail in the evening, the parks where the warmer it gets, or the various markets that offer a variety of fruit and vegetables that are rarely found in Germany finds.
This is exactly what makes living in a city and spending a semester there. It gets even better when summer comes and you can spend the whole day outside knowing that friends and family in Germany have to deal with rain and ever colder temperatures;)
Of course, the partying shouldn’t be neglected and you don’t have to fear that in Santiago. There is something for every taste; the city offers everything your heart desires.
The infamous “Miercoles Po” party, which takes place every Wednesday and is free for foreigners, is very popular with exchange students and foreigners living in Santiago in general.
I can only recommend a semester abroad in Chile or in Santiago! Even if the first days were not always easy and challenges were waiting for you again and again during the semester (for example the Chilean Spanish or the South American mentality / serenity), I am happy about each of these experiences and was able to do a lot during my time in Chile learn.
I would go to Chile again at any time and in no way regret going there. So let’s go to the application forms and have a great semester! 😉