The care was perfect. From Germany, MicroEDU will mainly help you with your application to the FEN. Tatjana is at your side with any question. In Chile, Kaia can help you with any questions you may have – from choosing a course to visiting a doctor. Kaia also organizes various events, such as movie nights or buddy events, all of which were very nice.
The buddy program
The FEN offers you to take part in the buddy program. Each exchange student is assigned a Chilean student who will help you find your way around the FEN, but also, for example, with housing issues. This is really a very nice idea that helps a lot, especially in the first few weeks there. Some buddies became best friends and others rarely met. A bit of luck is always there. But don’t be afraid to meet new people in Chile is really not difficult.
Sí po – The language
One of my reasons for studying abroad in Chile was to learn the Spanish language better. I studied Spanish in school for three years, but then quickly forgot because I hardly used it. When I arrived in Chile, I understood very little. This was not only the case for me, but also for Spanish speakers who had problems communicating with the Chileans. The Chileans in general speak very indistinctly, swallow a lot of syllables and have an incredible number of slang words like “Cachai?” But I got used to the language very quickly and began to understand more and more and to speak faster and faster myself. After a few weeks it was no longer a problem to follow the professors and find my way around.
The Chileans are very warm and helpful people. In Germany I was often told that the Chileans were a bit distant and cold. But in the first week a lot of Chileans offered to help me without my asking. The Chileans are very nice and open, but not all Chileans are created equal and it was sometimes difficult to get in touch with them outside of the university. The Mañana mentality of the Chileans takes some getting used to for some, especially for Germans. It often happens that group work, for which you have eight weeks, only starts on the last day. And surprisingly, it really works and most of the group work is handed in and presented the next day. Still a little mystery.
- Learn more about Chile and South America, please check constructmaterials.
The apartment search
At the advice of others, I decided to look for an apartment first, which I would recommend. It is possible to look for an apartment from Germany, but it is very difficult and not necessarily advantageous. It is very important to take a look at the apartment, as the descriptions of the apartments sometimes differ from reality and, above all, it is important to get a feel for the location and the way to the university. For example, I saw a very promising apartment, but it was very far from the FEN. The first time I lived in a hostel, from which the FEN could be reached on foot in 5 minutes. That was perfect. The staff there were super nice and I got to know a lot of nice people – other exchange students from the FEN and other universities and other travel enthusiasts. Among other things, I got to know my two best friends there. From the hostel I started looking for apartments. The most important portal for this is compartodepto.cl. Another portal through which I also found my apartment is dadaroom.com. Other ways of finding an apartment are, for example, the FEN’s “Health & Housing Guide” or the FEN’s Facebook group for exchange students. I lived in a shared apartment with a Chilean woman, who studied law, which turned out to be perfect, we got on really well and I was able to improve my Spanish. I also had good transport connections (a metro stop nearby is highly recommended) and was able to reach the FEN on foot in 25 minutes.
Both Spanish and English courses are offered at the FEN. On the one hand I wanted to study in Spanish, on the other hand I wasn’t sure whether the language would be too much for me, especially at the beginning. So I chose a mix of Spanish and English courses. Since I am studying marketing here in Germany, I have chosen the corresponding courses there and also one on the Latin American markets in order to get a better insight into the culture and functioning of the South American countries. By the way, you can test the courses for two weeks and only then decide on your final courses.
Santiago is a huge city, and I didn’t really like the look of it. However, my preferences are more green and I didn’t expect to find this in Santiago. But there are also green areas in Santiago – many small parks and a few mountains or hills from which you have a great view over the city and can relax wonderfully. For several reasons, Santiago turned out to be the perfect city for an exchange semester. On the one hand, the location of the capital is very inviting. You can be in the Andes in about 90 minutes and you can go skiing there in August, for exampleand in the other direction you are in about 90 minutes in Valparaíso or Viña del Mar by the sea. What was especially nice for me, however, is that the city never sleeps. There is always something to do and lots of opportunities to meet new people. There are many parties (to which exchange students often have free entry), music festivals, cinema events, food festivals, etc. Life in Chile takes place on the streets (as long as it doesn’t rain).
As described above, Santiago never sleeps. That is why you will not lack leisure opportunities. The FEN itself offers some sports courses (including Zumba, volleyball or climbing), but there are also many clubs that offer all kinds of sports. I tried a wide variety of courses and then decided on salsa. There are also some providers with whom you can go on weekend excursions to the natural parks around Santiago. Other leisure options such as cinemas, shopping malls, small cafes, flea markets, etc. are of course not lacking in Santiago either. There is something for everyone – all you have to do is look around.
Of course, many exchange students not only want to get to know Santiago, but also the rest of Chile and the surrounding countries. I recommend you travel as much as you can. I’ve mainly traveled through Chile and also explored a bit of Argentina and Bolivia. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for more, but I definitely want to travel to South America again. Chile is an incredibly diverse country and it is worth looking at everything from the desert to the Tierra del Fuego. You can travel cheaply in Chile by bus. The buses are very comfortable and the network is well developed. For the trip to the north or south of Chile, however, it is worth flying because the distances are already very long. Since attendance is mandatory during the semester, I only explored the south of Chile after the exams. During the semester I went on weekend trips to the mountains, the sea and the surrounding nature parks. During the first exam phase in September I was able to travel north for a few days. I also went to another travel destination in the north during the semester because the compulsory attendance did not exceed 85% and I could be absent for a week. One piece of advice: Travel as much as you can and take all your impressions with you!
Do’s & Don’ts
Never come on time! This only applies to leisure activities. At the university you should be there on time for the start of the event. But for an invitation to a barbecue, for example, it is common to be at least two hours late. Before my stay there, of course, I dealt with the Chilean culture and was therefore often 1-1.5 hours late at the beginning and was – typically German – the first at the party. A kiss as a greeting is a must, which initially took some getting used to for me. But when I was back in Germany, I missed this welcoming ritual here.
Dare to take this step – you will not regret it. Great experiences are waiting for you, you will meet wonderful people and learn to love another piece of the earth.