Study Abroad at University of Viña del Mar (6)
Since I am studying Spanish to be a teacher, the semester abroad was compulsory for the fifth semester from the start. However, I decided against the ERASMUS program in Spain, because after graduating from high school I lived in Spain for a year and wanted to get to know a new country. That’s why I decided to go to Latin America as a so-called “free mover”. I found out about MicroEDU at an information event at the University of Münster. I quickly realized that I would like to arrange a consultation. I was always well advised and all my questions could be answered. Universities were suggested to me that match my degree program and based on the experience reports and the information about the universities on the MicroEDU website, I finally decided on the Universidad Viña del Mar in Chile.
The application process was very easy. My counselor sent me a form that I had to fill out and sent it back to MicroEDU. From there, the applications are then sent to the universities and that was it with the application process.
You do not need a visa for Chile. Many Germans travel in as tourists with a 90-day tourist visa (you get this on the plane, you don’t have to worry about that in advance) and leave the country once after 90 days at the latest. Be it a weekend trip to Mendoza (Argentina) or another trip to another country – it doesn’t matter, it is important that you leave the country once, because when you re-enter you get a new 90-day visa and you can relax completely stay in Chile. In the semester from August to December we had a week of spring break in September. During this week, many students left and re-entered.
Otherwise you should still think about vaccinations. On the website of the Foreign Office you can see current vaccination recommendations. In addition to the general vaccinations that you should have, I got vaccinated against yellow fever and typhoid, because after the semester I wanted to travel to other countries and especially yellow fever is currently very much on the rise in many countries.
Study and University:
Since one of my subjects is Spanish, it was clear to me from the start that I would and must study in Spanish in Chile. However, my initial plan was to attend the courses of the locals, i.e. the Chileans, and take suitable courses there, as I have the minimum requirement of the B2 level. However, that was more difficult than I thought, because firstly I missed the orientation week and secondly I realized pretty quickly that things are a bit more chaotic and unorganized in South America.
But let’s start at the beginning: I applied for the Spanish semester from the start and was informed about the start of the course and the start of the orientation week. When I got the acceptance from the university and received the first emails from the coordinator who is responsible for the international students, I was apparently assigned to the wrong group, as all information related to the orientation week for the people of the English semester. I soon found out that the same thing happened to the other people who applied for the Spanish semester and we exchanged views.
I then learned from one of these people that the orientation week for the Spanish semester started a week earlier, which this person only saw by chance on the university’s website. At that time, however, we had already booked our flights. That’s why we turned to both the coordinator and our consultant from CC. We wanted to know which information is correct and it was confirmed to us that our orientation week actually starts a week earlier. For me, however, there was no longer any way to rebook my flight, which is why I missed my orientation week. That was very annoying, but it’s not a drama.
- Learn more information about Chile and South America on clothingexpress.
On my first day I went straight to the coordinator, who helped me with the organization and explained the most important things to me. After that, however, I was on my own and had to go to the respective professors to get all further information.
During the week I looked at a few courses that interested me, even if unfortunately not all were offered, but which were previously on the course list that I received from CC. After the first week, however, I came to the conclusion that I would not attend these courses but rather attend the Spanish courses for the international students. The range of courses in this area was much more limited, but I felt more comfortable in the courses and was also able to get credit for the most important courses.
Now some are probably wondering why I didn’t feel so comfortable in the courses with the locals:
- 1. Chilean Spanish is not wrongly considered to be the most difficult and I really didn’t understand that much at the beginning. That was okay with the professors, as they generally talk a little more slowly, but when the students talked, I often had to guess what was being said at the beginning.
- 2. The organization of the courses for international students is relatively good, while the organization of the normal courses is truly a minor disaster. You are in the right room at the right time and after 15 minutes you wonder why there is still no one there. Then you look for someone to ask and find out that the course is either taking place in a different room or at a different time. It is not uncommon for the course to be postponed by an hour at short notice without being informed beforehand or a note hanging on the room (this is apparently not common in Latin America).
Even if you try to talk to a professor and he replies that he would have time in 10 minutes, you shouldn’t be surprised if you are still standing in front of your room after an hour and waiting. And I don’t even want to start planning the exams. I felt really sorry for a friend of mine who took the normal courses in medicine at times. One day before the exam you received a notification that another topic would be asked or that the date of the exam would simply be changed as the mood took you.
- 3. You also want to experience a little something during the semester abroad and since the courses were of course easier for the international students (if only because the language level there was not so demanding), I finally decided to do it. With the other courses, I would not have been sure whether I would pass them, and I definitely had to pass certain courses in order to get credit for the semester abroad.