Andreas about his Life in Chile
Spanish Course + Internship 2010
When my boss offered me to do a 3 months sabbatical, I did not know immediately where to go. I wanted to go to a Spanish-speaking country but not Spain, since this is an easy-to-visit vacation destination. Since I had heard some interesting things about Chile by some Chilean friends, I finally decided to go and see this country for myself. Apart from that, I wanted my abroad stay to be more than a mere vacation, something more intense and benefitting for my CV. This Is why I decided to do an internship in Chile.
Some of my friends who went abroad had had unpleasant experiences, therefore I decided to organize everything via an agency. I chose PractiGo, a Chile Inside partner. Everything went smoothly right from the beginning and even when I ran out of time to apply for a visa at the embassy, I was matched with another internship, for which I did not need a visa.
It started in mid-February to escape the German winter and arrived in Santiago at over 30 degrees Celsius and deep blue sky. What a difference. I was very surprised how European Santiago looked. If you have been to Spain before, you will not get any cultural shock here in Chile. I felt very well right from the first moment.
Since I was short of time and already spoke quite some Spanish, I decided to do only a one-week Spanish course to refresh. The course was good, because it leaves you with enough time to explore Santiago and practice your skills. It was also a good opportunity to know a lot of people. Even if an only one-week language course certainly can only refresh skills, it makes it a lot easier to start in a new country.
I was also very lucky with the host family. I lived in a beautiful old house in the middle of Providencia and we got along great. On countless evenings we just sat together to chat.
After the language course started my 6 weeks internship. I had a great deal of luck with the company. It was a small IT company with about 25 employees. From the very beginning, I have been given really interesting and challenging tasks. But it was also fun because it was not just a “coffee-cooking internship”. I got along really well with the people at work. Even now in Germany we are still in touch. It could not be better.
Time passed much too fast and after 7 weeks it was time to leave Santiago. I took weeks to travel through northern Chile, which was incredibly impressive.
Also during my time in Santiago I use every free minute, there is so much to do in Santiago and surroundings! You can go on a weekend trip to Valparaiso and the Pacific or even cross the andes for a weekend to visit Mendoza in Argentina. The snow-capped Andes are also suitable for a nice day trip, for example to the Cajón de Maipo, a beautiful Andean valley, right next to Santiago. A highlight was certainly my Easter trip to Punta Arenas in the very south of Chile. Where on earth can you see penguins in their natural habitat?
I even really liked crowded Santiago, I always felt really good in this city. There is an incredible amount of options to spend your time, not only in the surrounding area but also in the city itself. Getting bored in Santiago is simply not possible.
I went to Chile to gain new experiences, to get to know a foreign country intensively, but above all I wanted to leap right in and see, whether I can manage everything at the other end of the world. My expectations have been met and far exceeded.
I was also caught by the earthquake of 27.2. caught, an experience I had neither expeted nor wanted, but I did not think a minute of departure.
The people in this country are incredibly open minded and I have experienced situations that are simply unimaginable in Europe. I do not know to how many Chilean “asados” I was invited, how many phone numbers I got, just to call when you're around. Also, I very much liked to see people with happy faces on my way to work in the mornings.
My three months in Chile past much too fast. Honestly, if I had had the opportunity to extend my stay to one year, I would not have doubted to do so for a second.
What remains after my return are experience I will never forget. I have improved my Spanish a lot, without really doing any effort while in Chile. I was told that I had lost my long Spanish accent and now sounded more South American. What nicer memory can you take home? Strangely enough, settling in here in Germany has been much harder for me than settling in at the beginning in Chile. Now I have been back almost 3 weeks, but I still don´t feel really at home.
Anyway, this was not my last time in Chile. To all those who hesitate or doubt it they should go for such an adventure, I can only say: Go to Chile! It's a lot easier than you think. The country is beautiful and incredibly diverse. But the best part is the people who make life incredibly easy.
¡Que te vaya bien, mi querido Chile!
(Andreas' report was translated from German, look here for the original post.)