“? Ay weon, cachaste los chilenismos o no po?”
Anyone who actually knows Spanish and has not understood it – that is normal. In Chile there are an incredible number of expressions that are not used in any other Spanish-speaking country. Even if this is a bit confusing at first, you start to love it at some point. I heard a lot that Chile wasn’t the perfect country to learn Spanish. The Chileans are known to speak quickly and indistinctly. But if you’ve made it there, you can do it anywhere.
Chilean culture is totally different from German. You are late, like to gossip, to laze around at work (there is also a special Chilenismo for here) and incredibly lovable. You can tell, for example, that the many street dogs are all well fed and even get sweaters on in winter. In addition, at the beginning of my semester abroad, my Spanish was not good and yet everyone always tried to talk to me. It’s amazing that communication always somehow works, even if you don’t speak the same language. The host families of my friends are really for them like a second family become and many flew with a few kilos more back home.
The Universidad Vina del Mar is actually a university with 8000 students, but these are spread over 30 different campuses. That was a bit of a shame because I didn’t have that much contact with Chilean students and we ‘gringos’ stayed mostly to ourselves. To compensate for this, the university offers an international club and arranges language partners. The International Club meets once a week, goes on excursions, plays games or goes to a bar. As a rule, if you came to the meeting half an hour late, you were still too early.
Lessons do not have the character of lectures, but of school. There were 2-8 people in the classes, presentations were given regularly, tests were written and homework was done. Through these intensive classes, the Spanish will quickly improve and fortunately the teachers speak very slowly and clearly.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit historyaah.
The university gives you the opportunity to get involved socially, for example in orphanages or as an English teacher at a school. I chose the latter and went to a poorer part of Vina del Mar once a week to help with class. It was an interesting experience, albeit at times very frustrating, that taught me a lot about Chilean culture.
Of course, I didn’t just study in Chile. Vina del Mar is a big city and you will definitely not get bored. You can shop, eat empanadas, go to the cinema, surf, have a barbecue on the beach, drink beer, go diving etc. The sand dunes of Concon, where you can go sandboarding, are also very close by. The neighboring town of Valparaiso with its whole streets full of colorful houses and Graffiti has a great nightlife and is only about 15 minutes away. The parties are often themed and there are free disguises drinks. Specialties like pisco (made from grapes like wine, but much stronger) or terremotos (means earthquake, is a drink with ice cream) are highly recommended. What took some getting used to for me is that everything only starts later in Chile. You do not meet for the preheating at 9, but at 11 and you don’t come home at 3, but at 6.
In addition to the lectures, you also have enough time to travel and should definitely do that! Chile is beautiful and really has it all: beaches to surf, mountains to hike, deserts to marvel at. Among other things, I was right down in the cold south of Patagonia, saw avalanches there, bathed in a glacial lake and had really fun hiking for the first time. Then I was still in the north, in the Atacama Desert, which is the driest in the world, bathed in hot springs and after fantastic sunsets I saw an even more beautiful starry sky. The countries around Chile also have great things to offer: the salt desert in Bolivia, the waterfalls of Iguazu in Brazil or the colorful mountains in Salta, Argentina. When I traveled to the other countries, I was reminded again how different the Spanish is in each country and how much I will miss the Chileanisms, cachaste po?