My semester abroad at the Universidad de Chile began in July 2013 and ended in December 2013. The decision to do a semester abroad at this South American university was based, among other things, on my previous positive experience with South American culture and my desire to improve my Spanish as well as the varied travel options that the country has to offer.
I processed the application for a semester abroad at the Universidad de Chile with the help of MicroEDU. The application forms for the university of your choice are provided on the website and all you have to do is fill them in and send them to MicroEDU. MicroEDU will take care of everything else. The acceptance came right after the application deadline, and so the actual organizational work began: book a flight, take out health insurance, apply for a valid Visa card, get vaccinations (even if Chile does not have any explicit vaccination regulations, you should think about where you want to travel and which ones Vaccinations are necessary for this). A visa is not absolutely necessary if you leave and re-enter with your tourist visa after 90 days. This was also suggested to us by the Universidad de Chile, as it is definitely easier and you are certainly planning to travel outside of Chile anyway. On the whole, the preparation is very pleasant, as you get very competent help from MicroEDU and the International Office of the Universidad de Chile.
After arriving in Santiago de Chile, I had a transfer company called Transvip take me to my previously booked hostel. This is relatively inexpensive and you will be driven directly to the door of the relevant address. The first 1.5 weeks after my arrival I lived in a hostel near the university, as I had decided to look for a suitable place to stay on site. In my opinion, this was also the best decision, as you simply have the opportunity to personally inspect and get to know the room and the people with whom you will be living for the next few months. There are many options when it comes to looking for an apartment. On the one hand, the university offers help with possible contact persons and addresses, on the other hand there are websites such as compartodepto. cl or placement agencies such as ContactChile or HomeChile, who can help you find an apartment for a fee. The rental prices are very different, but in any case comparable to German rental prices, even if the standards can of course partly differ from the German ones.
Life in Santiago
I found my place to stay through HomeChile and lived in a house with a Chilean family in Providencia, which is one of the safest areas of Santiago. Many exchange students are looking for a place to stay here, alternatively in Santiago Centro, Bellavista or Las Condes. In Las Condes, however, you should note that you have to take the metro to the university every day, which can be quite a nerve, especially in rush hour. Here the metros are always full to the brim and you can only get from A to B if you squeeze into the last free centimeters of the metro with many others. Outside of these times, however, you can easily recommend the metro as a means of transport and taxi is also really cheap in Santiago. Otherwise, however, you have to be aware of that Chile can keep up with Germany in terms of price and is often much more expensive, especially when it comes to groceries or drugstore items. Fruit and vegetables, for example, can be bought very cheaply at the many markets in Santiago. When it comes to going out, Santiago has a lot to offer. In the Bellavista district in particular, you will find a large number of bars, pubs and restaurants that are very well frequented no matter what day of the week. The security issue in Santiago was basically not a problem either. Chile is considered to be one of the safest countries in South America. Nevertheless, there are of course some rules to be observed, such as not walking through the streets alone at night or not carrying your valuables too openly with you in public. But if you are a little careful about this, nothing should happen to you either. Unfortunately, the environmental situation in Chile is not that good. Especially the smog, which is permanently over the city, causes health problems for the Chileans in the long run. So you can see one or the other Chilean walking around with a face mask on the street so as not to inhale too much of the exhaust fumes. If you spend a semester in Chile from July to December you should also note that you will arrive in Chile in the coldest month of the year. This means that temperatures tend to drop close to zero at night, which is worth mentioning since many houses have no heating. Especially when you start out in a hostel, you have to get by in many shared rooms without heating and sleep with several blankets and several layers of clothes.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit a2zgov.