Study Abroad at University of Viña del Mar (2)
On the international campus of the UVM, it is possible to either take part in the English-language program or the Spanish-language one (from B2 onwards, you can also attend the regular UVM courses). Regardless of this, you can take Spanish language courses at any time, depending on the respective test result. I decided to take all courses in Spanish. So I had language courses three times a week: Comunicación y Cultura Chilena. Here we mainly practiced our free speech and discussed current social issues at the same time. I also took a literature course in which we talked about works by famous Latin American writers. Even if I initially had great difficulties following the course, it was ultimately a great enrichment for me, as it allowed me to get to know world views of the South and Central American continent far away from the Eurocentric way of thinking. In Culturas en Contacto, the topics were tailored to us due to the small size of the course. We learned more about Chile’s history, about the many natural disasters due to the geographic location and political structures. Apart from the international campus, I also took a course in the sociology department: Movimientos Sociales. This was also the only course I attended with other Chileans, and therefore also the most demanding for me. Nonetheless, I am very happy that I also chose this course in order to gain a little insight into the Chilean study mentality. I found it a bit unfortunate that the courses on the international campus made it difficult for me to come into contact with other Chileans. The cooperation between the regular departments of the UVM and the international department can, in my opinion, still be expanded.
In addition, I took part in the “ Volunteering Program“Part. This included charitable work in social organizations or in state schools. I chose the Paul Harris School as my volunteering position to assist the English teacher in class three hours a week. The Paul Harris School is located in a poor district of Viñas and is a state school. Since the state schools in Chile have much less money available than the private ones and the government hardly supports the state schools either, this becomes noticeable in various ways: There is a lack of teaching staff, teaching materials or heated and well-insulated school buildings. In an international comparison, the quality of school education is also considerably worse than that of private schools. I had the luck, to work with a technically very competent English teacher who values the cooperation between the UVM and the Paul Harris School very much. The “Volunteering Program” is accompanied by the UVM through a weekly workshop.
- Learn more information about Chile and South America on barblejewelry.
The UVM attaches great importance to the smallest possible courses and so the contact between us internationals and the professors was very personal. I first had to get used to the rather school-based way of studying: daily homework, weekly essays, monthly presentations and also very strict attendance lists. Nevertheless, we were able to ask most of the professors to be released from work if it was necessary for longer trips. We wrote exams every few weeks. In addition to the final exam, the final grade was composed of several partial grades, which had the advantage of not getting into the usual stressful exams at the end of the semester. However, I was constantly busy with submitting the individual courses.
Leisure time during the semester
The Fridays were free of lectures and so there was plenty of time to travel due to the long weekend. As already described above, it is only a stone’s throw to the capital where you could take anything from concerts to inexpensive museums. There are also beautiful beaches to explore nearby, such as Horcón (Puente de los deseos) or Concon (ideal for surfing, even for beginners). Cajón del Maipo, a beautiful local recreation area for many locals from Santiago, is very suitable for various adventure excursions such as paragliding, kayaking or climbing tours. A highlight that I have experienced and would recommend to everyone is to go on a hiking tour through the Torres del Paine National Park (Patagonia) in southern Chile. It is recommended to do the tour in the summer months, because from April the weather there becomes more and more unsteady, which makes camping more difficult. The Atacama Desert is also a very popular travel destination, because the small and very beautiful village of San Pedro de Atacama offers all kinds of handicrafts and you can marvel at the clearest starry sky in the world. I can only recommend a trip to the neighboring country Bolivia, as many tours are offered a lot cheaper there. (Tip: Salar de Uyuni !!)
If you want to visit the bars and clubs in the area during the week, there are plenty of opportunities. The Café Journal has traditionally organized the “Gringo Nights” on Wednesdays. The café, which is more like a bar, is just around the corner from the international Diego Portales campus and, thanks to its central location, is also a popular meeting place. You get to know many international and Chileans from other universities. The Thursday evenings were often reserved for the Saint-Jueves events: every week free entry to the various clubs Viñas and Valparaíso when showing a Saint-Jueves ribbon. The bars in Valparaíso never sleep on other days and are clearly easier on your wallet than the nightlife options in Viña.
The UVM offers a wide range of free sports activities for the students, which, however, I could not use due to my living situation being far away.
To sum up, I can only have positive impressions from my semester abroad at the Universidad Viña del Mar.take. The tuition fees are undoubtedly a hurdle, but in return there are also some offers for foreign students and can be offset by scholarships and BAföG abroad. The level of education at the UVM can certainly keep up with international standards. I would definitely recommend taking Spanish language courses at the UVM, even if you usually do the English-language program. This makes many everyday situations easier and the professors are mostly friendly and accommodating. It is of course helpful if you already have language skills in Spanish, then you can cope much faster with the Chilean slang that takes getting used to. I found the little contact with other Chilean students at the UVM a bit of a shame.
Chile is a beautiful, diverse country and unfortunately the time was far too short to get to know the country in its entirety. What you have to be prepared for when you are in Chile: Sooner or later you have to experience an earthquake. Most of the time there are only very small tremors, which in no way throw everyday life off track. However, every few years Chile is hit by major earthquakes. But even then, the Chileans are trained enough to keep the damage as low as possible.
What remains after the five months are the many enriching experiences and friendships that I have been able to make during this time, which can span thousands of kilometers and even the great Atlantic.