Arrival and accommodation
I had a flight over Sao Paulo with Tam / Lan Airlines. This is the usual route to get to Santiago de Chile. Unfortunately, the flights are very expensive if you have a fixed date and are not flexible. But a detailed search on all websites and flight portals is worthwhile, because you can always save a few hundred euros. So I arrived in Santiago and a little too late to join the UVM’s airport pick-up . So I took the bus to get to Viña. To do this, take the blue airport buses that leave the airport on the right-hand side (approximately at the level of exit 6). This bus will take you to the “Pajaritos” bus terminal in Santiago. From there you can take a Turbus or Pullman bus for around 4000 Pesos and take it to the bus terminal in Viña. If you don’t know something or are unsure, ask about it. Usually the Chileans are super nice and helpful , they will certainly help you further. I had organized an apartment in Viña from Germany. But you can also take a hostel for the first few days and then look for an apartment on site, that’s no problem. My apartment was in a very good location and I had two Chilean roommates with whom I got along really well. Gabi always took me with her when she did something with friends and so I was immediately integrated into her entire circle of friends. Otherwise, the apartment was relatively large and had everything you need – except for heating. Since I arrived in the Chilean winter and the temperatures can be around 0 degrees at night, it is also very cold in the house. So definitely take warm clothes with you and I can also recommend a winter jacket and winter shoes (especially when you go into the mountains). You also have to get used to that in Chile you cook with a gas stove and for warm water you first have to switch on a gas spoiler. A room costs between 150,000 and 180,000 pesos, which corresponds to between 200 and 240 euros. It shouldn’t be more expensive. This variant is significantly cheaper than a host family.
According to topmbadirectory, the Universidad Viña del Mar offers courses in both English and Spanish for intercambios. The system is very good in that you can study there without knowing Spanish. The only disadvantage is that the Intercambios program is on a separate campus and that no Chileans take part in these courses. Therefore, unfortunately, you don’t come into contact with Chileans at the university. In my semester abroad I took a total of five courses , which was very easy to do, especially on Fridays you always have free !! Two of them were Spanish courses, which I can highly recommend, because here you not only learn the language, but also a lot about the political, economic and social situation in Chile. In general, the courses are very small and the lectures can be compared with school lessons rather than lectures at the university. The examination system there is regulated differently than in Germany. You take several intermediate exams during the semester and a final exam at the end of the semester, so you always have to prepare something for the courses. But that certainly keeps everything within limits. The program for the intercambios is well organized. You receive all the important information in the first week and quickly come into contact with the other intercambios. Excursions and events are also offered, which you can take part in throughout the semester. Carlos, Kathleen and Tammy are the three main points of contact for all problems and matters. Another offer that I found very good was the UVM’s volunteer program . Intercambios was offered to do a voluntary service during our stay. Since I was very interested in it, I decided to take care of children who live and live in an orphanage. I went there twice a week and visited the children. It was a great experience. It doesn’t take a lot of time and you get to know the country again from another side.
You never get bored in Viña and Valpo. The two cities are populated by many students and Intercambios, so there are numerous opportunities for going out. Valpo is more of a city for alternative people, where you can find cool concerts and bars – often very cheap. In Viña you will find more chic clubs like the Ovo in the Casino or Mancora. You pay a little more entry and the parties are more European. The area also has a lot to offer for sports. In Viña you can jog along the beach and let off steam on the fitness equipment, in Concon (approx. 25 minutes by bus north of Viña) you can go sandboarding and surfing and in the National Park la Campana or near Santiago, for example in the Cajon de Maipu, you can go hiking and Climb. So there is something for everyone and I can only recommend these activities to everyone, because the landscapes and mountains are incredibly impressive. Chile also has a lot to offer for art and culture lovers. In Valpo, numerous houses are decorated with works of art and grafiti, each of which has its own story behind it. You should also use your free time to travel. In the south of Chile everything is totally green and invites you to explore nature while hiking or cycling, with the Atakama Desert in the north being a great travel destination.
Security and Cost
I can reassure all worried mothers, Chile is not dangerous !!!! It is a country with a relatively high standard of living(at least it seems so) and it’s well organized by South American standards. You shouldn’t go home alone at night and don’t take valuables to the beach. There are a few little things to stick to, but I felt safe at all times and with a little caution (which you should have in every big city in the world) nothing will happen to you. Since the standard of living in Chile can almost be compared with European standards, the cost of living is correspondingly high. The prices are usually to be compared with the German price level. In Valpo you can find, for example, some cheap restaurants and in Viña and Valpo the fruit and vegetable market, where you can find the best and cheapest fruit and vegetables twice a week. Bus travel in Chile isn’t expensive either.
All in all, it was a great semester abroad, where you get new experiences and meet new people every day. You learn Chilean Spanish within the first few weeks and if you miss the German language, you can easily meet German students.