Since my master’s program includes a compulsory semester abroad and unfortunately there was no partner university in Latin America, I found MicroEDU on the Internet and was very happy about the many possibilities. The application process was very easy and the employees were flexible and were able to help me very quickly and efficiently. After I had filled out and sent the application forms, I didn’t have to worry about anything other than booking my flight and taking off. Thank you for your great support!
Studies and courses
I spent my compulsory semester abroad from August 2013 to January 2014 at the Universidad de Viña del Mar (UVM). As an exchange student can there rates for the respective subject area select or de at the Escuela Español Courses which are offered exclusively to exchange students. Since I am doing a master’s degree at my university, I have taken courses from the higher semesters (from the 8th semester) at the Escuela de Economía from the normal course offerings. Since these courses unfortunately do not take place on the same campus, you have to take a UVM bus (stop e.g. in Agua Santa) to another campus (Rodelillo), which is a little above the city. The journey takes about 15 minutes. I took the following courses at the UVM: Economía Avanzada, Marketing Avanzado, Preparación y Evaluación de Proyectos, Tecnología y Dirección, Ortofonía.
A lecture lasts about two hours and, due to the small number of course participants, can be compared more with a seminar than with the large lectures at German universities. Not only is the system of teaching different, but also the examination system. In addition to a general compulsory attendance, there is a lot to do in every subject. The material is not particularly demanding in terms of difficulty or level of knowledge imparted, but this depends on the respective professor or lecturer. Each month there is a test, a literature review and, if necessary, a written submission. A final exam follows at the end of the semester. The students are motivated in this way and are well prepared for the final exam. The grading system is in Chile from 1-7, with 7 being the best grade. It can therefore be stated that the courses are always very time-consuming and should not be underestimated, especially the courses in the higher semesters. The professors are not only very helpful during lessons, but also after the course hours and can always be reached via email. In addition, there was always a point of contact for any questions or problems in the Faculty’s secretariat and in the International Office.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit philosophynearby.
Tip: Despite the good organization, the Latin American rule “If you are on time, you have to wait” also applies at the university. In addition, the language should not be underestimated. The Chileans don’t speak Spanish, they speak Chileno. This language is very peculiar, as an “h” is usually breathed in for the “s”. In addition, Chileno is spoken very quickly and is peppered with words from the Mapuche, one of the indigenous peoples of South America.
On-site support and accommodation
Since I arrived in Chile two weeks later due to obligations in Germany, I unfortunately missed the introductory week. As far as I know, all administrative matters are dealt with here, a city tour is given and the campuses are looked at. It is of course very helpful in the first week to get to know your fellow students who are also doing an exchange at the UVM. Many of the exchange students are from the United States and take most of the courses at the Escuela de Español rather than the Chilean student campus. The support from the international coordinators (Carlos Torres, Kathleen Lowry) was very good overall and there were activities throughout the semester. You can take part in: Trip to Isla Negra and Santiago, city tour in Valparaíso, riding in Concón, skiing in the Andes, and much more.
Regarding accommodation, the UVM has the option of accommodating you with a host family. I decided to look for a room myself on site and booked a room at the Hostal Che Lagarto for the first few days (highly recommended). The right offers can be found quickly via facebook, couchsurfing and with the help of recommendations from other travelers or students.
In contrast to Valparaíso, Viña del Mar is generally not very dangerous as a city. In the dark (and especially as a girl) you shouldn’t necessarily be out and about on your own. In view of the low prices of public transport, such as micros (buses) or collectivos (shared taxis) that go to almost every hill (cerro), it is advisable to use them at night. Since the streets of all Chilean cities are actually populated by street dogs, you can easily “ask” a dog to bring you home. The dogs are mostly harmless, but they often have fleas.