Emma - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUCC)

B. International Studies
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

I took Cultura Chilena, America Latina en el siglo XX, Mujer y Sociedad, y Español.

Cultura Chilena and Mujer y Sociedad were both courses for exchange students and were fairly easy, but still stimulating. I liked Cultura Chilena more because you finished the semester with a good understanding of Chilean history and culture, particularly surrounding the dictatorship. America Latina en el siglo XX was also interesting and gave a broader insight into South and Central American countries and how colonialism and 20th C phenomenons such as the Cold War and the rise of populism/fascism affected them. Mujer y Sociedad sounded like a course that would have really interested me, but unfortunately, the professor wasn't very interesting and difficult to understand.

I did really enjoy the Spanish Course, but the credits got downgraded from 10 to 6, which is less than 2 UQ credits, meaning I had to take a supplementary course. The intensive Spanish course 1 month before classes start costs the same and is still worth 10 credits (or 2 UQ credits) so I recommend doing that instead.

Personal experience

The semester was one of the best I've ever had, and I really appreciated the opportunity to see how other people live. Learning about Latin American history and culture made me appreciate the privileges and opportunities I have received in Australia.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus in an apartment in Providencia with two other exchange students. This is the safest area and there is still a decent amount of nightlife, cafes etc. as well as being close to the metro and parks. I paid CLP 260,000 a month which is around average.

Looking back, I think it would be smarter to share with people who didn't speak English, and maybe in a more central area like Bella Vista or Lastarria. Having said that, the quality of the apartments in those areas is sometimes not as nice and it can be hard to find a good place for a low price.

Budget

Rent: 260,000 CLP

Transport: roughly the same cost as Brisbane on the metro, it is possible to get a student card, but not really worth it unless you're staying a full year as it takes around 3-4 months to receive it (but the discount is 3 times cheaper)

Food: supermarkets are very expensive, especially fruits and vegetables, so I recommend doing shopping at Vega Central, but remember to bring your own trolley. This is not only cheaper, but a true 'Chilean experience.'

Travel: transport in Latin America can be expensive, but busses are cheaper and often more comfortable than flights. It is possible to find really good deals on SKY airlines.

I recommend budgeting 15,000-20,000 AUD

Professional development and employability

My Spanish skills have definitely improved and I have a broader perspective of the world and the different issues people face in different places. I can also appreciate the influence of political (colonialism, dictatorships) and economic (neoliberalism, inflation) factors in the national psyche, which is particularly relevant to my degree.

Highlight

I loved the Iguazu Falls and Machu Piccu, as well as spending time exploring Santiago!

Top tips

  • Make sure you budget well! Allow to have more money than you think well! 
  • Don't book a lot of flights or tours in advance because things change and school dates come up.