Study Abroad at University of Viña del Mar (15)
Dear foreign enthusiasts,
I was at the Universidad Viña del Mar in Chile last semester. I found out about the country and its people beforehand, but only after I received precise information from MicroEDUs did it become concrete. The helpful ladies sent me all the forms and applications and made contact with the university in Chile for me. After that, everything went pretty quickly and went really smoothly. I was supposed to go over there in August, but couldn’t until the beginning of September, but it wasn’t a problem. My knowledge of Spanish before my stay abroad was somewhere near zero after two university courses that were far apart and a long time ago. So I knew that I had to learn something as quickly as possible and that it wouldn’t be easy for me at the beginning. Before I go any further here, however, I will briefly say how I will proceed in my report. First I want to list very general things like the description of the university, the people, the weather and the like. In the second part I want to list everything that comes to my mind so spontaneously, what I have done and what can be saved or what was really good for those who are almost sure to want to go;).
- Learn more information about Chile and South America on nexticle.
So starting with the university: The Universidad Viña del Mar has just been bought (the big and good universities are almost all private in Chile), that means all I can tell you is that there will definitely be changes to my stay and there will be more. Since I really couldn’t speak Spanish very well, I decided beforehand to mainly choose language courses. There is a large offer at the international office (OIIE) that is heavily structured according to previous knowledge. For everyone whose mother tongue is not Spanish, there are offers here to improve again. In addition to grammar, the courses also included courses in Chilean history and culture, phonetics, literature and others, which, however, differ slightly from year to year. If you have any questions you can send an email to MicroEDU. In addition to the courses at the OIIE, you can also take courses at the actual university. Since I did not consider myself capable of doing this linguistically, I cannot say anything more about this. But I heard from a couple of Spanish friends (who were with me in Chile) that the level should be lower than in Spain, so if you know what it’s like there, you might be able to assess it better. In addition to the Spanish courses, the OIIE also offers various excursions. There is a real leisure time offer for exchange students that, depending on your interests, is really worthwhile. The university also offers a reasonably sensible university sports program. Not to be compared with a large German university (e.g. Uni Tübingen), But if you want to do something, you definitely have the opportunity to do so. Okay, so much about the university, now about the city: Viña is not really a big city, but it has everything you need: a hospital, shopping center, many restaurants, pubs and discos and of course a long beach. If you get really bored here, it’s your own fault. The city is also overlooked with stray dogs. They haven’t really got the problem under control in other cities either. If you drive along the coast, you come straight to the next start without noticing any real border: Valparaiso. Some students preferred to move here from the start because they found the city more attractive. By way of comparison, I would say that Viña is the richer and Valpo the more interesting city, but everyone has to know for themselves. The Chileans are a very interesting people. You have a still very present political history, a strong patriotism and are absolutely crazy about football. The students that I got to know all celebrated a lot, all smoked (both normal cigarettes and… well, other things) and also got a good idea of what Chile was like before. Most of the students in Chile come from at least reasonably wealthy families, as the universities are usually not cheap and only the upper classes can afford it. The big difference to industrialized countries becomes clear here. Can you say in Chile of the upper class that they are not that far away in terms of the standard of living, so there is a huge gap between the individual social classes in the country. The students live in partly brand new apartments or shared flats, but if you drive only 10 minutes towards the outskirts, you can find quarters made of tin huts without running water and without electricity. That brings me to the next point, security in Viña. Nothing happened to me in almost four months. Nobody turned on, threatened or robbed me. But I was also told that it might have something to do with my size. I’m over 190 cm and therefore at least 15 cm taller than almost all Chileans. I have heard from many others, however, that they have got into a situation (mostly through their own carelessness) in which they were threatened or robbed. You have to take care of yourself and, above all, your things a little more than in Germany, but if you do that and follow a few rules (e.g. women have never been anywhere alone at night), I think the city is reasonably safe. So, now something about the weather: As I said, I arrived in September and it was still pretty cold. During the day around 15 degrees and at night it was 5 to 8 degrees cooler. The nightly cold has not really changed in summer (from the end of November to the beginning of December), only during the day it has already become significantly warmer. I don’t even know exactly when we were regularly on the beach.