As a third year Bachelor of Arts student with a major in Spanish, I assumed it would be perfectly easy blending into a Hispanic society, though the reality is that I had absolutely no idea what to expect and, for this reason, my experience in Chile was perfect. Everything was a little surprise and I would not have wanted it any other way.

It was relatively easy to assimilate into university life at PUC, especially due to the fantastic exchange organization CAUC, which provides not only numerous interesting cultural and educational events and tours, but is an invaluable way to get to know others students and make contacts at the university. Moreover, it really helps to get to know the locals as soon as possible so as to orientate yourself in the city, as well as to learn the Chilean colloquialisms and jargon, such as “Cachai” (understand?) or “Bakan” (cool!). It was from a local that I learnt how to find La Vega or la ferria, where you can buy amazing fresh produce instead of going to the over-priced supermarkets.

Although Santiago in itself is distinctly beautiful, particularly in the winter with the snow-capped cordillera in view from all parts of the city (and cold!), be sure to escape the smog of the capital as much as possible and experience the vast range of landscapes that this country has to offer. Cajon de Maipu, La Serrena, Valparaiso, and Pichilemu, are just a few of the must-see destinations, and all for different reasons.

Other than that, “Miercoles Po”, as the name suggests is a lot of fun every Wednesday night, even if it is mainly for extranjeros. Also, you must try a completo, a mote con huesillo, a churipan, and pisco sour, though I do not suggest you have them all in one sitting.

My exchange experience at PUC was exciting, challenging, and rewarding; it was by far the best six months of my life and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone and everyone to step a little outside their comfort zone and experience the amazing opportunities that UQ Abroad provides – it will completely change your perspective on life! 

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