I’m Ritchie and I study French and Spanish in Southampton. I am now in Santiago in Chile for my year abroad studying at the Universidad Católica.
People think going away to South America for your year abroad is too far and too scary but that is only because we don’t know what to expect. Going to Europe on Erasmus feels like the go-to thing so my first blog entry is going to tell you some key things to think about if you are considering travelling a little further…
I am not a good one to talk about this and most of my friends would say they don’t know how I made it out here seeing as I was sitting in the Chilean Embassy the day before my flight trying to get my visa completed.
Research the visa requirements and complete the necessary documents as soon as possible. Police reports, health checks, finances are all required for the visa so get a head start! Also, be aware that if you are a British national the visa is quite expensive – upwards of £400… SFE does provide financial support but it depends on your household income.
When booking my flight I heard that some airlines are better than others but at the end of the day you are still sitting on a plane for a minimum of 13 hours if you are flying from London, either way it’s not going to be the most comfortable. As soon as you know you are going BOOK YOUR FLIGHT! I thought I needed to wait for my visa before booking it but the longer I waited the more and more expensive it got. Chile offers the 90 day free tourist visa so either way you will be safe but you don’t want to leave it to the last minute and end up paying £1,000+.
I came out here with just a hostel booked for the first five days and ended up staying there for two weeks before I found somewhere to live. In Chile there is not a university-run halls system like we have in the UK. The majority of students will live in a house with other students, professionals etc. Some will live in an apartment and some will do a home-stay, it depends on what you feel comfortable with and your budget. There are lots of options to choose from but definitely look at the place first to make sure it’s not a scam or too good to be true.
Also, look at different areas to live in. They are very different to one another and your rent will vary accordingly. Popular areas are Providencia, Las Condes, Barrio Brasil, Ñuble.
- Consider it
The population of Chile is close to 18 million people of which 40% live in Santiago. It is massive, bigger than I expected, so consider whether you could fit in. There are times when it feels like you are fighting your way onto the metro and are in endless queues but it is 100% worth it when you have the chance to study in a pretty cool and beautiful university and on your weekends and holidays have the opportunity to travel to the dessert, ski, surf, trek, go to a lake, and it is ALL IN THE SAME COUNTRY!
If anyone is considering Latin America for their year abroad I hope these points have helped and feel free to ask me about anything!
P.S. July and August are really cold.