Selection of the foreign university
Since the beginning of my studies, I wanted to do a semester abroad. Since my English skills had already been strengthened through various stays abroad, I really wanted to improve my (professional) Spanish skills. I had lived in Mexico and Spain for four years and I love the Latin American culture and always wanted to go to South America.
At an information event about semesters abroad at my university, I found out about MicroEDU (CoCo) and then became aware of the Universidad de Viña del Mar on the website. It is a private university, but the “state” institutions do not cost much less because education in Chile is heavily privatized and every state educational institution is usually partly private. Instead of the capital and huge metropolis of Santiago, I opted for Viña del Mar, a coastal city next to the famous Valparaíso – the popular, colorful and touristic cultural capital of Chile with a large (street) art scene.
I contacted MicroEDU, they sent me the application documents, I filled them out and sent them to CoCo at the end of March, who forwarded them to the UVM. The application was straightforward, all I had to do was fill out the form, submit a copy of my passport and proof of sufficient Spanish language skills (at least B2 level). I got the latter from my university through the language center. It then took about five weeks before I was accepted.
If you do not have a language certificate, you can take a placement test on site. If you have at least a language level of B2, you can take part in the Spanish-language courses of the UVM. However, exceptions were made, so a German with only A2 level took part in two of my courses in Spanish.
As a German, you don’t need a student visa for the UVM, just a tourist visa. This is valid for 90 days. You enter as a tourist and leave the country after three months, e.g. for a short trip to Mendoza, Argentina, and then re-enter Chile and get a new tourist visa. If you want, you can still apply for a student visa. However, this involves some effort in the home and host country. In Chile you then have to register with the police and then receive a Chilean ID.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit neovideogames.
Everyday student life at the UVM:
The courses at the Spanish Center (for international students) and the regular courses at the faculties differ significantly in terms of scope and difficulty. (I will tell you more about the course programs later).
During the semester, small presentations were given in some courses at the Spanish Center. In the “Dirección Internacional de Empresas” course at the Faculty of Business, case studies (mostly in English) were read every week, about which small tests had to be written in group work. There were also three exams during the semester. The final exam at the end of the semester, in which the entire content of the lecture was queried, you only had to write if you had failed one of the intermediate exams or did not achieve the overall grade average of 5.5 (out of a possible 7.0 points).
Both the exams, the group tests and the oral participation contributed to the overall grade. In addition, there was a compulsory attendance of at least 80% in order to pass the course. The system is very reminiscent of school days and this meant a little more effort for some, as there was constant study for exams during the semester – on the other hand, it also took the pressure off because the final grade was made up of many small grades and you don’t have to end the semester had to call up the knowledge of the entire lecture at once.
In general, I can say that the regular UVM courses are more demanding than the English-language courses or the courses at the Spanish Center for international students. The groups in the courses for international students are also significantly smaller (5-10 students) than in the regular UVM courses (30-50 students).
In addition, you could take part in various volunteer programs. The organization of the volunteer program at the Escuela Teodoro Lowey served the Latin American cliché perfectly, which is why volunteering as advertised did not take place there. It’s a shame because I would have loved to teach English at a school. At the Paul Harris School, according to fellow students, it worked much better!
With a registration fee of approx. 3 € you became part of the International Club of the UVM at the beginning of the semester, which offers everything from BBQ in the botanical garden to skiing in the Andes, sandboarding in Concón, to the International Days, at which the representatives of each country should present typical food, games, dances and their cultures, organized a lot of great things.