UQ Program: Bachelor of Arts/Laws

Prior to my semester abroad, I knew relatively nothing about far-flung Chile. In fact, my lack of knowledge came as no surprise to the Chileans I met, instead confirming popular expectation. In a land surrounded by the geographical extremes of Patagonia, the Pacific Ocean, the Atacama desert and the Andes, Chileans are used to a sense of isolation which leaves them unnoticed. However, I realised throughout my exchange that despite any perceived anonymity, Chile is just as captivating and diverse as its landscape.

Studying in the aftermath of the February 27 earthquake was incredibly eye-opening for me, and had a strong impact on my semester. I was amazed by the compassion demonstrated towards those worst affected, and by the Chileans' bravery in facing what had happened. On an academic level, the university provided a wonderful experience - on offer were a wide range of interesting subjects, directed by quality teaching staff. I was able to enrol in subjects which aren´t available at UQ, such as Chilean Poetry in the 20th Century. Admittedly, if I could choose my subjects again, I wouldn´t have selected anything intended purely for extranjeros (except for one grammar course that I took). I found the regular university subjects to be far more fascinating, with the obvious advantage of mixing with local students. The university also has a thriving extra-curricular life. The focus that PUC puts on helping those less fortunate was particularly evident from the number of earthquake-relief groups organized to visit and assist devastated communities.

Beyond the classroom, my semester in Santiago gave me the chance to improve my language skills, meet people from all over the world, and acted as a launch pad to visit other parts of Chile and neighbouring countries in South America. Learning more about Chile´s turbulent political history, witnessing Chilean national pride during the World Cup, being included in the close-knit family culture and growing accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of Chilean Spanish all contributed to an unforgettable exchange. Of course, many thanks to UQ, whose scholarships help make it all possible!


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