I found out about MicroEDU through a friend. At that point it was only a few months until the beginning of the next semester and I was afraid that it would already be too late. I immediately got in touch with MicroEDU and was assured that there was still enough time and that I could still apply for the next semester. I immediately received all the information I needed and the right university was quickly found. In the end I decided on Chile because I was able to take the international program there. This means that I was able to attend courses in Spanish as well as specialist courses in English.
MicroEDU helped me with the application process and everything was straightforward and problem-free. As soon as I got my approval, I booked the flight and then the adventure started.
The adventure begins
I flew to Santiago at the beginning of August and specially booked the flight so that I could use the airport pick-up offered by the Universidad Vina del Mar. After almost 30 hours of traveling, I was also very happy when I saw the university’s flag in the crowd at the airport in Santiago. So I immediately felt that I was in good hands and got to know other students straight away. We then all went to Vina del Mar together. I had rented a room in a hostel for the first week and then wanted to look for an apartment on site. Fortunately, I met a Finn in the hostel who said that he was in contact with a flat share where rooms were still available. So everything worked out great, so that after four days I moved into a flat share with a Mexican, a Chilean, a Finn and a German.
- Finding an apartment on site is very easy. Everyone found a room within the first two weeks.
- I lived in the 8norte and would say that you can live very well in all of the nortes. This part of town is very safe, you are close to a nice beach and the area is pretty too.
After a week the university started. On the first day, Spanish tests were carried out to classify us in the different courses. Since I only had beginner knowledge, I took two courses in Spanish (a grammar course and a Cultura Chilena course) and the remaining specialist courses in English (Sustainable development and poverty reduction and Crisis Management). The Spanish courses were about four times a week and you did a lot of homework. That was very good because it was a good way to improve your Spanish. As for the English specialized courses, I was lucky because both courses were taught by English native speakers. In general, however, the lectures do not quite reach the level of lectures at German universities. You can tell that the university is seen a little more relaxed, like everything in South America;) Another thing bothered us very much. Those who did not speak Spanish very well were accommodated in a separate location and could not take part in the regular university courses. So we were a bit isolated and it was very difficult to establish contact with Chileans. That’s why I advise you to move in with Spanish-speaking people in any case.
Otherwise, I got myself in the Universidad Vina del Mar always felt very well looked after. You always had a contact person, regardless of whether it was about university questions or everyday problems. Above all, Carlos (the warm international coordinator who always takes 1000 photos) always had an open ear and always felt responsible for everyone.
Life in Vina and Valpo
Overall, I can say that the culture shock did not materialize after arriving in Chile. In general, this country is very well developed and in Vina del Mar it feels a bit like being in Spain. It’s very nice, clean and the beautiful beach puts you in the holiday mood right away. However, it has to be said that it is still really cold in August and September. So pack warm sweaters and thick socks! There is no heating in the houses, which is why we initially only moved back and forth in the apartment with a cozy blanket. However, when the sun comes out, then it is right and then it’s off to the beach and enjoy the sun. From October it will be reliably warmer and from November you can usually pack your jackets in your suitcase. In general, you can live very well in Vina.
If you want more South American charm, you should especially stay in Valparaiso. The neighboring city is a 15-minute subway ride, or if you want more thrills, you can take the bus. 😉 Valpo is more colorful, wilder and dirtier than the clean and richer Vina. Here you should be a little more careful at night after the party and not necessarily walk through the streets alone in the dark. However, we were there very often to celebrate and nothing ever happened to us and there was no unpleasant situation. Personally, I really liked Valpo. Especially when it is dark, the crowded “Cerros” shine in thousands of lights and it is just beautiful.
- We always went to the Saint Jueves party (every Thursday alternately in Vina and Valpo). However, the party is very international, which is why you primarily meet exchange students. So you shouldn’t forget the South American parties where both men and women swing their hips to the sounds of reggaeton (e.g. the Proa in Valpo).
- The prices are almost the same as in Germany (especially dairy and drugstore products are very expensive, especially tampons! So take a load of products with you, your wallet will thank you for it.
- Every Wednesday and Saturday there is a market where you can buy vegetables and fruit much cheaper than in the supermarket. In addition, it is always an experience to stroll through the colorful stalls and let the barkers shout at you;)
- Eat Manjar in any form!
Unfortunately it really was, the Chilean Spanish is a challenge (put nicely;)). They mumble, completely dispense with the stress and always swallow the end of the word. Even if you should despair at the beginning, it will get better! After a month or two you will understand clearly more. I knew very little Spanish (level A2) and quickly noticed that it was getting better. Although of course you still have moments until the end when you don’t understand a word. We have only done a lot in a German group. When the Spanish got better, we did a lot with Mexicans and were able to use our Spanish.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit softwareleverage.
- Speak, speak, speak! Just trust yourself, it is normal that you make mistakes and the South Americans usually react very warmly and positively!
- If possible, stay away from too large German groups;)
Travel, travel, travel
If you have the chance, stay longer and travel! I was traveling with a friend for a month in Bolivia and a month in Peru. It was great! It was a time of incredible experiences that I will never forget. Even though we were only two girls, I never felt unsafe. So if you are careful you don’t have to be afraid. Plus, traveling is a great way to improve your Spanish. The clear Spanish in Bolivia and Peru will seem like singing to you;) However, you have to say that Chile is much more developed than Peru or Bolivia. In Bolivia in particular, poverty is still a huge problem. But this country is incredibly rich in impressive nature and loving people.No matter what you are looking for, whether the tropical rainforest, bizarre rock formations, dangerous gorges, green oceans of plants or the modern metropolis of millions – there is everything in Bolivia. In Peru we focused on the ruins and the bustling cities. You can also use the last few days there to relax on beautiful beaches from the trip.
- We also did a lot of couch surfing and it was amazing how warmly we were received. We met super exciting people and were always overwhelmed by the warmth of the South Americans.
Ultimately, I can say that I am incredibly happy that I was able to experience this adventure. Even if I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the university structure, everything else was correct. Vina is great and all of South America is so incredibly diverse, exciting and always good for a surprise. I will never forget the many experiences and experiences and I am grateful for every moment. You also learn a lot about your own life and yourself. So do it and enjoy it!