Kirk - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUCC)

B. Commerce / Arts
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

During my semester on exchange I was lucky and applied for a reduced 3-unit course load as I had only 7 subjects remaining in my final year. I took IHI2371-1 Mujer y Sociedad en Chile, ICP0109-1 Seminario: America Latina Siglo XX and ICP0316-1 Organizaciones Internacionales. These were all really great courses and the lecturers are all understanding of exchange students. They were all conducted in Spanish with was at times challenging, but a really rewarding experience and my Spanish listening ability certainly improved.

Personal experience

I gained a lot from my time in Chile, and made friends from all over the world. From day one I wanted my exchange experience to expose me to as many different people as possible and I don't regret it, it was one of the most challenging but worthwhile experiences I've had. While I could have travelled throughout South America more extensively, I travel from north to south in Chile and was lucky to see so much of such a beautiful country.

The main reason I went to Chile was to improve my Spanish, and while it was challenging at times to find people who actually wanted to speak to me in Spanish, and not 'English me' straight away, I did improve.

Accommodation

I lived in a share house off-campus, 1237 calle lorena in Providencia, near calle Manuel Montt metro in a relatively safe area. This was a great experience as I shared a house with 14 European exchange students studying at variety of Chilean universities and while I did think it would be challenging I was surprised about how many great friends I made, especially considering there was only one small kitchen. It was cold as there was no central heating, but generally a really enjoyable experience due to my incredible roommates. I would encourage anyone looking to Chile in the future to live in a similar area, in providencia, barrio Italia or Lastarria or central close to a metro, and if possible with Spanish-native speakers.

Budget

I spent 179.000 CLP (358) a month on rent which was a rip-off, but it can be difficult to find housing with other international students not at this price, however, I didn't have as much time as I arrived late. Also housing with Chileans might not be as exciting as they are more focused at university and not generally as interested in exploring the nightlife extensively. Food was a little cheaper than in Australia but varied, Ekono is a cheaper supermarket than say Unimarc etc. Entertainment was relatively expensive for South America, with a beer in a club about 3.000 or $6. I bought a bicycle for 150.000 including taxi.

Professional development and employability

I have learnt a variety of skills, mostly related to my improvements in Spanish and broader appreciation of different cultures. I am generally comfortable in talking to a native Spanish-speaker in Spanish, and while it can be challenging if they use too much slang, or speak too fast, its just another opportunity to learn.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was making so many great friends, and I can't wait to visit them all around the world.

Top tips

If you want to go on exchange in the future, I'd say just practice your Spanish as much as possible, before you go and once you're there. Have a tandem partner, play sport, try and find people that don't speak English to you and get the most out of it by meeting as many people as possible.