Study Abroad at University of Viña del Mar (11)
University & lectures
The campus for the language courses is in the middle of the city. Carlos also has his office here and is available for all questions and problems. Here I was together with other exchange students (many Americans, many Mexicans, some Australians, Swedes, Germans & French). You can then put together your own schedule from “Latin American literature” (my favorite), “Chilean culture”, “grammar”, “cultures in contact”, “phonetics” and much more. The professors are terribly nice and funny, much more relaxed and friendly than in this country.
In addition to 5 Spanish courses, I also had 2 journalism courses on the large UVM campus a little outside the city. It can be reached without any problems, however, as several free UVM buses run every hour from various bus stops in Viña. The locals are mainly represented there, and almost all lectures are in Spanish.
On my first day, my fellow citizens met me very much, were very interested in me as a German and lovingly integrated me into their course. They later became really good friends.
My previous knowledge of Spanish wasn’t exactly that great. I was roughly equivalent to level B1 and was also quite overwhelmed at the beginning. Chileans have their very own, very fast & indistinct Spanish. But that too is a matter of getting used to and within 1-2 months you are fully in it (provided you try not to speak too much English with like-minded people).
I am studying media and communication in Passau and so far I am used to quite theoretical content. In my courses “periodismo radial” & “periodismo de television” (radio and television journalism) I had the full contrast program. In weekly assignments (radio or film), we always had to deliver appropriate productions in groups, which were then discussed and graded in the course. My fellow soldiers supported me a lot there too. I couldn’t contribute the same amount to the productions because my Spanish wasn’t enough, for example, to interview people for a short documentary or to moderate radio reports. Nevertheless I learned a lot (and laughed) and in the end got the same group grade as the Chilean students. Most of the time the grades were extremely satisfactory!
I will still have to clarify which of these I can count towards in Germany. It’s usually better to do this before starting your semester abroad. However, since the experience itself was in the foreground for me, the crediting was not too important to me.
But I know from foreign students at the UVM that they were able to get credit for a large number of courses at their home university.
Overall, however, I would say that the level is not quite the same as the German one you are used to. The content and scope are much simpler than here, but still interesting.
Viña del mar offers endless possibilities. There is the beach, a huge shopping mall to hang out, thousands of bars and the neighboring town of “Valparaíso”, which can be reached with the Micro in 15 minutes and for just under 70 cents. Valparaíso has a completely different flair, is characterized by the brightly painted houses along the hill and hippie / bohemian residents. At the weekend (and actually also during the week), many young people go there to party, as the range of bars and discos is even larger than in Viña del mar.
Anyone who wants to surf or sandboard on the dunes of the neighboring “Concon” can also be there in no time with the Micro. Definitely try the best empanadas in Chile!
In addition, Viña’s location on the Chilean map is just perfect! If you get bored there, you can just take a bus to Santiago at the bus station (they are always cheap) and it takes 2 hours to get to the capital of Chile. Buses go from Santiago to everywhere! I’ve spent many weekends with friends in other cities – just for a change – and I’m sure I’ve never traveled so easily and cheaply. The bus system in Chile is really excellent! Such a trip to the north or south can take 20 hours, but once you’ve done it, you know that it is absolutely bearable in the comfortable reclining seats and small snacks in between. In addition, such a trip costs no more than € 30 (depending on the bus company).
- Learn more information about Chile and South America on healthinclude.
The food will delight fast food fans! Everywhere there are small burger or Completo stalls, all streets are paved with rolling vendors with all kinds of sweets and drinks. If you want to cook yourself, you will find everything you need in large supermarkets. The prices are almost similar to the Germans, it seemed to me. Maybe 20% cheaper. Fruit and vegetable shops are really cheap, be sure to try them out! Everything tastes 3 times more intense than here!
The Chileans themselves are pretty open-minded and helpful. I had a little bit of security concerns before I started my trip. In my opinion, there is hardly any need to worry in Viña del mar! Nothing at all happened to me in the whole 5 months (even in 4 weeks of travel in Peru, Bolivia & Argentina). Of course there are pickpockets, but if you don’t walk around with your backpack open and look in-the-air, nothing will happen to you. You should only be careful in the neighboring town of “Valparaíso”. Never take too many valuables with you and never walk through the streets alone in the dark. Those who pay attention to this should be on the safe side.
Just take your courage and do it!:-) I promise, nobody will regret a semester abroad at the UVM. Not only did it bring a lot for me in terms of language skills, but you also get to know yourself better and develop your social skills enormously. It was nice to see how strong family ties can be and that money and a career are not everything.
One more thing: Save a few hundred euros or take out a loan or borrow something or whatever! In any case, you have to take the opportunity and travel a little longer! Whether in Chile itself or in other countries. I used my last 4 weeks to explore the neighboring countries and saw things that I will never forget. South America offers so much culture & nature, don’t miss it! Especially since traveling is incredibly cheap!