UQ Program: Bachelor of Arts

The snow capped Andes surround the city of SantiagoAfter arriving in Chile on the day of the seventh strongest earthquake ever measured, my time here on exchange was always going to be a more different experience than I could ever have anticipated.  This heartbreaking event has touched every single person in the country, and the rebuilding of homes, businesses and lives continues and will continue for a long time yet.  Though obviously devastating, this event introduced me to the strength and unity of the Chilean character. Although famous outside the country for political differences, Chile comes first and this patriotic passion which was on show after the earthquake was also evident in the mad flag waving and national support that was on display during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 

(me far right): Constructing temporary emergency housing following the 8.8 magnitude earthquakeLife and the academic system at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile took some getting used to.  I found that the courses designed for foreigners were nowhere near as interesting as the regular courses conducted in Spanish, which were very difficult but also very rewarding (I wouldn’t recommend taking more than 2 regular courses, I took 3 of these courses with 2 years Spanish from UQ and found it was too great a workload).  The university system and Chilean bureaucracy in general, is complicated and very different to that in Australia.  Things are done at a different pace, and often in ways that appear unnecessarily time consuming, but always in a sincere, humanized manner that you may even begin to love, once you get used to it. 

Obviously living in a Spanish speaking country is also extremely difficult at first, but very rewarding if you have patience and are persistent and it does get easier as you become more comfortable. The locals are always willing to help you out and slow down the often incomprehensible local dialect.  The question usually asked when meeting a Chilean for the first time is “Why did you choose Chile?”, and my typical response has always been, “Why not Chile?”

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