Ever since I started my studies at the Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences, it was clear to me that I would like to study abroad for a semester. After extensive research, I decided to spend my semester abroad in Chile. What appealed to me most about this country was nature, learning Spanish and the South American culture. Since my FH does not have a partner university in Chile, I decided to take the step to the other side of the world with the help of “MicroEDU”. Right from the start I was given great support and everything worked smoothly. I applied in spring 2014 and then started the 5th semester of my industrial engineering studies at the Universidad Vina del Mar in August.
Arrival and apartment search
I had booked my flight myself at a travel agency and at the airport I met the first exchange students who were picked up with me by Carlos, the supervisor of the Internationals.
Since I had already heard from some that looking for an apartment is relatively easy, I decided in advance to just book a hostel (Che Lagarto) and start looking for an apartment on site. In the Internationals Facebook group, where everything from study information to leisure activities is posted, I found contacts for people looking for accommodation on the very first day. On the same day I looked at an apartment and then moved in with my new Chilean roommate the next day. It was clear to me from the start that I would like to live with Chileans because that way you get to know the language and the culture much better.
I didn’t have a lease and paid my rent in cash. (In Vina del Mar the rental prices are around 200-250 euros, in the neighboring town of Valparaiso you can live a lot cheaper, but then you always have to take a Micro (that’s the name of the buses that only run in the city) to the university).
Spanish and everyday university life
Apart from a few basic sentences, I couldn’t speak any Spanish. At first it was a bit difficult to talk to Chileans properly, as they usually speak little English. But after a short time the Spanish worked well. Thanks to my Spanish courses at university (I had a course for vocabulary and one for grammar) and my roommate, I soon had a relatively good conversation and towards the end of the semester I was amazed at how good my Spanish had become.
For my language courses I had three lectures in English. I had clarified beforehand with the professors at my university that I could have the credits credited to me.
What I found a shame about the UVM was that I only had courses with internationals. Usually the exchange students are even housed in a separate building, but this was damaged due to an earthquake and we moved to another campus.
Nevertheless, outside of the university I had a lot of contact with Chileans.
Country and people
For my part, I have only had positive experiences with the Chileans. You are very open and interested in other cultures. As soon as you have made contact with them, you will be accepted everywhere and will be welcomed by everyone as a new part of the circle of friends.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit internetsailors.
In Chile itself you can do a lot of business. Right next to Vina is Valparaiso. This city has done it to me with its graffiti and the unique flair. Here you can go out in the evening or just stroll through the alleys during the day.
Concon is on the other side of Vina (approx. 30 minutes). This is the closest surf spot and the best place to eat empanadas (dumplings with different fillings, typical of Chile).
With more travel / flight time, there are countless possibilities from Torres del Paine Park in Patagonia to up to the Atacama Desert in the north. Highly recommended, especially for outdoor fans. Since we had every Friday off, I traveled a lot during the semester and spent a few weeks traveling after the exams.
I would definitely recommend a semester abroad. It was a great time with a lot of new acquaintances and great experiences.