Ines - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUCC)

B. International Studies
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

My first UC experience was when I attended the orientation day, especially held to welcome all foreign exchange students in the first week of university. Here I was given a book with the courses that were actually available that semester and basically had to rearrange my whole study plan. Keep in mind that this will most likely happen and it will require a bit of patience and back and forward emailing to your faculty. However, once done, the most stressful bit is over. In the end, I had the pleasure of taking on four courses, all in Spanish:

- Iniciacion a la traducción de textos literarios
- Seminario de cultura chilena 
- Seminario: America Latina Siglo XX 
- Masculinidades en la Música Popular y Narrativa Latinoamericana Reciente (elective) 

I recommend any of these courses as I found that they offered me a lot of knowledge about Chilean history and helped me immerse into the culture. I found myself in small classes, of no more than 30 students and professors were really approachable, which made asking for help in Spanish less scary.

Personal experience

Early on in the semester I got to go on a trip with CAUC, a group organized by UC students that put on events and trips for exchange students. Through CAUC I was lucky enough to meet people from all over the world who are now friends that I can always go back to. I do suggest getting involved with CAUC, they not only taught me the "Chilean way" but I also met lots of students from other parts of South America which was great to improve my Spanish and also to learn about their unique cultures. 

A great way to stay connect it with the friends I made was to then socialize with them in Bellavista or going to Miercoles po! You absolutely have to go to Miercoles po at least once during your exchange. It is a party mostly for foreign students, held every Wednesday with different themes and at different venues throughout the city. It's great fun!


UC does not have on-campus living arrangements. I lived in Providencia, in an apartment that I found online for $200, 000 Chilean pesos per month (approximately AU$400). I absolutely loved it, it had great views of the Andes Mountains and I shared it with a Chilean and an Australian. I found that getting to Chile with two weeks spare before uni began and searching for an apartment was a good option for me. After all, you don't quite know what to expect until you get there. I just got searching for apartments online and viewed a few until I found the most appropriate for me. I definitely recommend sticking around the Providencia area, nearby Parque Bustamente, Baquedano, Santa Isabel or Santa Lucia. These places are not only safer but you will also be close to everything with bus stops and metro stations at walking distance. Also, if you don't like the idea of sharing an apartment many of my friends also enjoyed living with a family or in a student residence.


Easter Island
Easter Island

I went to South America with AU$16, 000 and it lasted me the six months. I found that what will mostly devastate your budget will be flights and travel but overall, life in Chile is a bit cheaper than in Australia. When at UC, I recommend you buy street food. It is the best value for money as you can get a juice and a burger or an empanada for about AU$4. With transport, you'll be using a Bip card, the Chilean equivalent of a Go card. You'll find that transport is cheap, depending on whether it is rush hour or not, you will spend approximately AU$2 for a ride on the metro or bus.

Professional development and employability

Living abroad and being exposed to different intercultural experiences made me learn a lot about myself. I learned to be independent and more capable of adapting to different situations. I can definitely say that the Santiago experience contributed greatly to my personal growth and confidence, not only in myself but also in my Spanish speaking abilities.


Before I went to Chile, I was not much of a traveller. Seeing a bit of what this world has to offer to people who are so open to new adventures has to be my ultimate highlight. I had the opportunity of visiting Peru, Argentina, and Brazil as well as, of course travelling throughout Chile. Every place was surreal. 

In the end, I cannot talk more highly of Chile. It is a country that offers postcard views yet its struggles are also bare for anyone to see, either through the regular student protests or the noticeable homelessness in the streets that one walks past regularly. Nevertheless, there is a particular beauty in it, as it does not hide its imperfections but it is trying to improve before everyone's eyes. 

No matter how great it felt to travel and escape a bit from the Santiago busy city life, returning there began to feel very much like I was returning "home". There is something very reassuring about feeling such at home in a place you thought at first to be temporary.

Top tips

  • Don't stress about university too much as it will all fall into place. 
  • If you want a neat place for printing, I recommend going to at San Joaquin. I found it to be the easiest as you just email them what you wish to be printed and go in to collect it (Random tip, I know, but it could be useful).
  • In Chile, almost nothing is done online so things (such as attaining your Chilean ID or signing up to courses) will take a bit of time. Be patient :) 
  • Try Chilean cuisine and their typical drinks. Keep an eye out for empanadas, sopapillas, completos, alfajores, terremotos, piscolas, pisco sours and basically, anything with dulce de leche. 
  • Try your best to socialize with Chileans. Learn the 'chilenismos'.
  • Embrace the Chilean nightlife, go to "carretes" and dance to Latino tracks. 
  • Visit museums and La Moneda, it will give you an idea of what has made Chile the country that it is today 
  • Keep belongings very close to you when you're in busy public places or public transports. 
  • If you have the budget, travel and see as much of Chile as you can, it's a beautiful place. Students Exchange Network (SEN) do great deals if you don't mind travelling in a group.
  • No matter how much advice you are given or how prepared you think you are, Chile will challenge you so go there with an open mind. 
  • In the end, everyone has different exchange experiences but heads up, you may fall in love with South America and saying goodbye may be the worst part.
Ines - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUCC)