Al fin del mundo
My semester abroad in Chile was simply an unbelievable, exciting and great time that I will always remember wistfully. Therefore, I can really only recommend to anyone who is still hesitant: Go to Chile! These unique experiences that you will have in this strange land at the end of the world are incomparable. Of course, I also had my doubts at the beginning, but today I am sure that Viña del Mar was the best choice for my semester abroad.
Especially if you want to take advantage of financial support such as BAföG or scholarships, you need a lot of preparation time for a semester abroad. The application to the UVM is very quick and uncomplicated thanks to MicroEDU and the acceptance of the host institution is immediately forwarded to you. The first thing I did was book my flight, apply for BAföG abroad and apply for the PROMOS scholarship in the international office of my university. I have also taken out additional insurance for abroad with my health insurance company. I did not apply for a visa and did so when I entered Chile get a tourist visa, which is valid for 90 days and which will be reissued when you return to Germany. It is advisable, for example, to go on a weekend trip to Mendoza in Argentina (approx. 7 hours by bus including border controls) shortly before the visa expires and many international students have done just that. If you still prefer to apply for a student visa, you can of course do so and the necessary administrative procedures later in Chile will also be organized by the university.
I have decided against living with a host family and have already tried to find a room in a shared apartment from Germany. Via a UVM Facebook group for international students, which Carlos, the contact person from the International Office, creates every semester, I then made contact with other students and I shared with four other internationals from Germany, Finland, France and the USA rented a furnished apartment in a building with a pool and located directly on the beach through the agency “Latinprop”. The university also offers an airport pickup on a certain day why I set my flight so that I could use it. You will then be met by Carlos at the airport and taken to Viña University together with other students.
Before the start of the lectures, there is an orientation week in which you can get to know everything in peace and prepare for the coming semester. The program is very varied and consists of a welcome event, a lecture “How to survive in Chile”, a Spanish test, course selection, a tour of the neighboring town of Valparaíso, a campus tour and a city rally followed by a welcome party. I took the following courses during my semester in Chile:
- Español Comunicacional y Cultura Chilena
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Corporate social responsibility
- Evolución Socioeconómica en Latinoamérica
- Movimientos Sociales en Latinoamérica
- Temas Contemporáneos en Latinoamérica
The first course mentioned is a language course that I can highly recommend, as it has improved my Spanish a lot and I learned a lot about Chile there. I can only recommend the two English courses to a limited extent, as I personally found the lectures rather boring and those who choose the “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” course should be prepared to read a lot to prepare for the lectures. On the other hand, the CSR lecturer was really very nice and always brought us biscuits or tea;) At Human Rights, what bothered me most was that the lecturer was Chilean and that I could not always understand his English that well. The last three courses all took place with the same instructor and were very interesting, but you have to write a 5-page essay after each topic as an exam for him, which is quite time-consuming if you have three courses with him at the same time. I can highly recommend the courses (especially Movimientos Sociales), but it is better to choose just one or two of his courses. In general, it should be noted for all courses that there is a compulsory attendance of 80%, which some lecturers take less precisely than others.The International Office is located on the same campus as the courses for foreign students and you can go there at any time with any questions or problems and, for example, print for free.
Thanks to numerous leisure and nightlife options, you will never get bored in Viña. For example, the so-called St. Jueves Party takes place every Thursday with a changing location, for which you get wristbands at the beginning of the semester that guarantee free entry. During the day, when the weather is good, you can go surfing or sandboarding, for example. Personally, I have joined the UVM basketball team and can only recommend that everyone join any sports team at the university. You don’t necessarily have to be good at the sport. I had a lot of fun, I was welcomed very warmly and it was definitely a good opportunity to make more Chilean friendships. Otherwise, if your wallet allows, you should try to travel a lot. The Torres del Paine National Park in the south of the country and the Atacama Desert in the north are particularly impressive. From San Pedro de Atacama you can also take a multi-day jeep tour through national parks to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, which is definitely worth it. Those who do not like to travel on their own can also book group tours via the Valparaíso Exchange network (valparaisoexchange.cl). There trips to the most popular destinations in South America are offered for foreign students and meals etc. are usually included in the price. The university also offers regular excursions that are organized by Carlos. From horse riding on the beach to attending the National Congress, everything is included here.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit mathgeneral.
Chile is really a very exciting country and Viña is a great city. That’s why I’m sure that you too will have incredible experiences there and, above all, have a lot of fun!