Since I am studying intercultural management and communication, it was clear to me from the start that I wanted to go to Latin America, as I would like to specialize in the local cultures and thus gain more experience. I also wanted to spruce up my Spanish skills and was able to combine two of my goals with my semester abroad at the Universidad de Chile and I am very satisfied with the result!
I made the decision to process my application through MicroEDU at relatively short notice, but I didn’t have any particular stress. You just have to pay attention to the application deadline in the respective desired country. The acceptance came relatively quickly and from then on it was all about booking a flight, organizing things, etc. I think it’s very important to take out good international health insurance because it makes things so much easier for you. Even the visa, if you want one, should be applied for in good time. It is not really necessary to have one, but simply less stressful, because otherwise you are in Chile and have to leave for a weekend after 3 months. I found it more relaxed with a visa, as I could enter and leave the country with the Chilean ID and didn’t always have to fill out the stupid slips of paper;) When it comes to money, it is important To have a valid Visa card, because you can really pay for everything down there with it. There are numerous possibilities here and you just have to see what is best for you. You should also tackle preventive medical care in good time; it is best to talk to your family doctor. Since I go abroad more often, I already had yellow fever, hepatitis A & B vaccinations and was therefore “good to go”. Before I flew, I took care of a hostel for the first few nights so that I wouldn’t have to run through Santiago with my stuff looking for a free bed, which has proven to be very practical!
I booked my flight especially so that I would arrive in Santiago on one of the transfer days offered, where a car from the university picks up the students and drives them to their accommodation. In my case it was a cute little hostel near the university. At the airport, however, I was a bit overwhelmed at first because there were around 100 people standing there waving signs and I was desperately looking for my name on one of the signs. Everyone wants to talk about a taxi ride and it’s just exhausting to rummage through with your luggage, but doable! Out of the airport I got a shock because it was very cold and I didn’t expect it to be THAT cold at all. So next time a thick jacket in your hand luggage.
If you do not want to / cannot use the transfer service, go to the transvip counter and there you can get a taxi to the Santiago region of your choice for around 10 €. The best thing to do is to write down the neighborhood, because they ask for it at the counter. This is a great transfer option that is reliable and fast. Just don’t take a taxi, they are just waiting for people who are not familiar with offering overpriced rides. But still I would recommend never to be unfriendly, just a nice “No gracias” is usually the best solution.
As already mentioned, I booked a hostel room at the beginning in order to look for an apartment / flat share on site, as I did not want to live with a host family. It is possible to state in the application whether you would like to live with a host family or not, but as far as I have heard from fellow students, they have always lived a little (up to 1 hour) outside, don’t forget: Santiago is huge!
So registered on site on the Internet and at www.compartodepto.cl and searched for something there. The site is really useful because you can create a profile there who you are, what you are looking for and simply enter your number and then the providers even call you. In this way I looked at some apartments and got to know a little bit of Santiago, once again killing two birds with one stone. In the end, the housing situation is very modest. I didn’t want to move into a student residence, which are simply houses that usually have one owner who rents out the individual rooms. I would have had too much partying there, after all, you are primarily there to study.
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So I found a great room with a Chilean and shared the apartment with him and another German. It wasn’t really close to the university, but closer to the city center, etc. In my opinion, rental prices there are very high and comparable to rooms in shared apartments in Karlsruhe / Stuttgart. Don’t give up on your search, you don’t see a lot of that great before you find something more appealing.
Studies at the FEN (Faculdad de Economia y Negocios)
Since I was only allowed to take English courses from my home university, this section relates exclusively to English courses. I chose courses related to Latin America and economics. In “Intercultural Business Challenges in Latin America” we talked and discussed a lot about the specifics of Latin American culture in business matters. This course was one of my favorite courses because its content was a perfect match for my degree program. This course, as on “Globalization, Treaties and Trade Agreements”, was taught by Prof. Paz Betancourt. In addition to English and Spanish, she also speaks very good German and French, which is really fun. In this course we have discussed almost all treaties and agreements between Chile and all possible countries, which is very interesting, but it was also a bit confusing, since it is quite a lot. “Latin America in World Affairs” was taught by Prof. Walter Sanchez, who is really cool. He is very fond of exchange students and has a great deal of knowledge in politics and business relations. For me, “International Business” was more of a repetition of the previous semester, it was about marketing, corporate culture, environmental analyzes and and and. This was the only course that was very full and there were also many Chileans in it, as it was part of their compulsory program. Then I had a Spanish course with Miss Annie, which didn’t really help me, but which I had to take to get Spanish recognized in Germany.
Regarding the choice of course, it should be said that it is actually said that you should only take 3 major subjects, but I got along very well with the 4. In terms of the exam, I don’t want to say much, because it seemed to me that the professors would throw it around depending on their mood and I still haven’t understood how and why some performances have been calculated. It is important to be present. There are courses in which you fail if you are missing more than 20%. Caution: with two hours a week it goes faster than you think;).
Some professionals understand that when you say you travel a little, others almost none at all. What I have learned, however, is that direct communication with the professor is always the best solution and that you usually achieve more.
The FEN also has a huge range of sports, which is used very intensively because the Chileans HAVE to take a sports course. This is part of the university’s philosophy, which I think is great. I did Zumba. And there is also a huge selection of dance classes that had a performance at the end of the semester. It was great to see what moves you learn in one semester;)
The FEN International Office is great! There is nothing to complain about, since someone is always available, no matter what kind of problem you have. I would like to give a special mention to Stephanie because she did a great job. Despite more than 80 exchange students, she already knew everyone’s name after the introductory phase, which I personally find very impressive. She tried very hard to involve us in the activities of the FEN and kept us up to date on special campaigns.
Additional support included a language partner, who was optional, but very great for making first contacts and experiencing the culture firsthand. So we went out together, ate together in the lunch break in the cafeteria, etc.