A friend made me aware of MicroEDU and reported on the extensive portfolio of universities, very good unbureaucratic service and the uncomplicated application process. After my university in Germany informed me that with G2 Spanish language skills there was no possibility for a semester abroad at a partner university in Chile, I decided to give MicroEDU a try. Which worked without any problems. A visa is also not necessary for EU citizens (if you observe the residence regulations for “tourists”).
Universidad de Chile FEN offers a large number of courses. In addition to the economics courses in Spanish and a selection of English-language courses, there is also the option of choosing language courses at different levels. I also found the range of courses that deal specifically with the country and the continent as a whole very interesting and the choice of Chile and Latin America to convey the historical, political and economic background in more depth.
The course of the lectures cannot be compared with those in a classic German university. Each subject is taught twice a week and is very schooled. There is often homework in the form of essays to be submitted as well as many group projects, presentations by students and external parties and discussions, which can definitely have an impact on the final grades. The composition of the grades is communicated very transparently by the lecturers at the beginning of the semester and can be found together with many other documents and messages on an e-learning platform.
The core of the International Office, consisting of two full-time employees and a student assistant, is very well organized and helpful. There was an introductory day at the beginning of the semester. Here, the students from abroad were given a wealth of information from various speakers about university life, Santiago, Chile, leisure and travel opportunities as well as general do’s and don’ts. In addition, this was the ideal forum to get to know other fellow students (some of whom you met in the hostel).
During the semester, the international team was always available for questions and organized numerous interesting events to support getting to know Chileans and internationals and to bring the country closer to us foreign students.Participation in the buddy system is also highly recommended. The International Office tries to provide every student with a Chilean buddy. For this purpose, properties were queried before the beginning of the semester and the “pairs” were compiled on the basis of these. It may or may not be very successful. But even if it doesn’t work out, there are good opportunities to meet Chileans and exchange ideas, especially due to the wide range of sports on offer. However, you have to be careful not to drift into English immediately, as the Chileans also like to improve their foreign language skills.
When looking for an apartment on site, it is advisable to speak Spanish well or to go out with better-speaking fellow students, as many landlords do not speak English and the strong accent is a challenge even for advanced learners. The apartment should definitely be viewed beforehand. It is also very convenient to live near the faculty in view of the extremely crowded local transport at peak times. Their location is also attractive in terms of nightlife and rent levels. The search for an apartment or room takes place mainly via relevant Facebook groups and property portals. Compartodepto.cl and portalinmobiliario.com have proven to be very helpful for me, but the university’s housing guide is also worth a look.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit ehistorylib.
The quality of the apartments fluctuates greatly, but this is not necessarily reflected in the rent. Some of my fellow students lived in old, dark apartments in which there were constant problems with (hot) water in the bathroom and in the kitchen, there was no heating and the landlord did not waste any thought on necessary repairs. On the other hand, you can live in a new building in a fully equipped apartment in a comparable location for the same monthly rent. If a certain standard is important to you, you should plan several days when looking for an apartment.
Leisure, excursion and travel opportunities
There is a lot to experience in Santiago and the surrounding area. The city offers some exciting districts that should definitely be explored. Under no circumstances should you be fooled by the unimaginative architecture on the major traffic arteries, which exude dreary American metropolitan charm. The Barrios Bellavista, Lastarria, Italia and Brasil are worth more than just a visit. The business districts further away from the original center with their bars and restaurants around the El Golf metro station are particularly attractive in the evenings during the week.
There is a lot to experience around Santiago with day or weekend trips. Valparaiso, Viña del Mar and many other coastal towns can be reached quickly by bus. In the west, the Cajón del Maipo and the Andes await hikers, mountaineers, rafters and skiers. To the south of the metropolis numerous wineries such as Viña Santa Rita can be reached after a short drive.
During the semester and after the exam phase, further trips can be made to the north to San Pedro de Atacama, to the small south (Pucon, Chiloe) and of course to Patagonia. The neighbors should also be visited. In Peru, Bolivia and Argentina the price level is well below that of Chile and at least in the northern neighbors the Spanish is easier to understand.