Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year
Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year

Academic Experiences 

I studied four courses at Universidad Católica (UC). The first was called Cultura Chilena (credited for Ltcs2026), which is designed for International students so really great for meeting friends! Another was called Seminario: America Latina Siglo XX (credited for Ltcs2022), this was probably my most challenging course, it covered history, geography and politics, and was taught in a lecture style without recordings. Third course was called Traduccion de Textos Literarios (credited for Span3310), which I really enjoyed due to the classroom setting, and was really beneficial to my Spanish. The fourth course I took was for an elective and the only English speaking subject I had, and was called Language for Social Change. Taking mainstream courses in Spanish seems daunting at first, but you pick it up in no time and the professors are all really considerate and approachable. Looking back I could have done all four courses in Spanish, instead of only three!

Personal Experiences

My exchange experience was incredible, and besides all of the travelling, living in Santiago taught me a lot and I loved the day-to-day life there. Eating empanadas and sopaipillas on the street after a night out is the best (also eating well is doable for a vegetarian!). Uni life is really different, very relaxed and filled with street dogs that they take in and care for. Saying goodbye to my friends over there was really hard, but the close friendships made on exchange can be for life. It may sound cliche, but you grow a lot as a person while living on exchange, and learn a lot about life in a country and culture completely different to Australia.

Accommodation

There isn't any college accommodation at UC, so most students look for shared apartments. A good website for this is compartodepto.cl
I absolutely loved my apartment in Santiago, I lived with a young Chilean woman who was also the owner, and was really lovely and warm. We spoke only spanish in the house. I also lived with another girl from UQ who was also on exchange, this was really helpful as we became really great friends, although you can definitely do it on your own too!
It was in a great location with a cool view over Santiago. I would recommend living in Providencia close to a metro station!

Budget 

Travelling and living in Chile is pretty affordable, although as soon as you want to travel to another country it becomes the most expensive part of the trip as airfares aren't cheap.
Here is a breakdown of costs during my exchange; Rent = $415 month, Food = $200 month, Travel = $5-6000 in total. Including extras I think I spent approx. $10,000 aussie dollars in six months.

Academic Development and Employability 

The Spanish language is definitely the skill that developed the most from my exchange experience that will contribute to professional development in the future! In Latin America talking Spanish every day is something that you get used too, and develops your proficiency so quickly. Besides from the language my exchange also taught me a lot about making strong relationships and understanding of many cultures in this area.

Highlight 

The highlight of my experience was doing a five day trek in El Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, in the South of Chile. I had never done anything like this before, trekking with everything I needed on my back; tent, food, warm clothes etc. The nature and landscapes in these mountains is breathtaking, and the experience was so grounding. I can't really describe how amazing it was, but would recommend it to anyone looking for a challenge, an escape, and being in the beautiful mountains of Patagonia!

Top Tips

If you're considering doing a student exchange in the future, don't get caught up in the little detail as they will all work themselves out, just apply - you won't regret it. It's been the best experience of my life so far.

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