Study Abroad at University of Viña del Mar (13)
My name is Manuel Klein, I am studying business administration at the University of Gießen and I did a semester abroad in Chile at the Universidad Viña del Mar in the German summer semester 2017. I was one of the lucky recipients of the MicroEDU semester scholarship for economics and could use the money: Chile is really expensive! The monthly costs quickly add up to the costs that you have in Germany – if not even higher.
Arrive in Chile
But let’s start at the beginning: At the end of February I took the plane from Frankfurt via Sao Paulo to Santiago and directly to a previously reserved hostel in Viña del Mar, where I met a German fellow student whom I had previously known through the Facebook group of MicroEDU met. In the next few days, we started looking for a suitable flat share, especially on the compartodepto.cl page, which is similar to wg-gesucht.de. I looked mainly in the impressive Valparaíso, but was not successful there. My main criterion was to live with Chilenos in order to get to know the language and culture first hand.
I spoke Spanish quite well before the semester, but my goal for the semester abroad was to further develop and perfect my Spanish. Ultimately, I looked at an apartment in Viña del Mar and got on really well with my future Chilean roommate. The apartment was clean, modern and well located: right next to the market (“Feria”), the “Hospital” metro station, two large supermarkets and around 10 minutes by bus from the Viña del Mar University’s international campus. After a week another Colombian moved into our apartment so that I could only speak Spanish at home.
In the beginning I had big problems understanding the “Chileno” – but over time I got to know many Chileanisms and enjoyed understanding my roommate better and better. The following sentence, written as it is pronounced, gives an impression of the Chileno of the “Flaites”, the lower stratum of the Chileans. However, many Chileans speak in this style. “Hola perrito, ¿cómo etai? Oye, la polola de ete flaite ayer fue bakán po weon. ¡Fillet, weon! ¡Conchatumadre, no lo entiendo porque le gusta eta wawa po weon! Hay que Finderarla al tiro para que se lo olvide, ¿Cachai? ”
Start of semester
In the first week we got to know the many students of the semester and the cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso through different program items. At the beginning of March it was still very warm in Viña. And we enjoyed the great weather on the beach in Concon, around three quarters of an hour north of Viña, where you could rent surfboards from many surf schools and where we surfed the Chilean waves. Since I had previously decided to finish my thesis in Chile, the first 8 weeks of my 6-month stay turned out to be more calm and very structured while the other fellow students experienced the late summer temperatures on excursions and trips to various destinations in Chile and at enjoyed many attractions in and around Viña.
After the first two months, however, my everyday life changed significantly as I no longer had to worry about my thesis. So I finally got to know my international fellow students better and enjoyed the free time to often surf the waves of Concon with the surfboard I bought on site (via Yapo.cl). I was lucky because I met the owners of a surf school and was able to store my surfboard there. So I didn’t always have to transport it in the micro-bus.
- Learn more information about Chile and South America on insidewatch.
Study in Viña del Mar
In the last two months of the 4-month semester I enjoyed getting to know the different cultures and lives of international students from many different countries, testing the nightlife of Viña del Mars and Valparaíso together, traveling the country (Valle del Elqui and twice snowboarding in the Andes before Santiago) and to be able to concentrate fully on the content of the university’s lectures. I took 4 courses: 2 in Spanish and 2 in English. An interesting Spanish course dealt with the socio-economic evolution of South America, for which we had to do presentations and several small assignments. In the beginning I had even bigger problems understanding the lecturer and the sometimes complicated texts, but that improved a lot over the course of the semester.
This was mainly due to my absolute highlight of my studies in Viña: a very intensive Spanish course that completely repeated the grammar of the language that I had learned in school and university over the past 12 years for level B2. We were only two students and were able to immediately use and apply what we had learned in real life in Viña. Thus, thanks to the good teaching and didactics of the lecturer (Verónica), my Spanish improved very quickly and strongly. The other two English-language courses dealt, among other things, with the reasons for the financial crisis in 2007/2008 and the Chilean economic development(Chile had been the guinea pig of neoliberalism under the Pinochet military junta since 1973) and the structure and problems of today’s monetary system. We regularly wrote hour-long tests on documentations we looked at together.
Overall, it has to be said that the level – as in probably most countries – was not comparable to that of a German university. The stories from other students in particular were sometimes a bit crazy – I certainly had one of the courses that demanded the most.
In general, I think I can say that the level of the Spanish-language courses is better. The profile of the university and a semester abroad in Chile are just not necessarily suitable for a very strong professional development through the university. For the Spanish course, however, I had to do a lot: I had homework every day (we had events three times a week), I had to give several presentations, we had to submit our own compositions several times and there were a total of three one-hour tests. The final grade thus consisted of 8 individual performances. However, the effort was really worth it for a solid Spanish.