My trip to Chile was full of surprises and I would definitely go again even though some things didn’t go so well. I was staying in a city called Osorno which is at the south of Chile. I got my plane tickets way too late, about a month before I left, but the price didn’t change much.
I flew in to Santiago de Chile, stayed a couple of hours there and then I took 13 hour bus ride to Osorno. When in Santiago, don’t take out your phone and hold it in your hand. The chances are someone will grab it and you will never see it again. I didn’t feel very safe there, plus I didn’t speak Spanish at all when I arrived.
I got to Osorno bus station at 5 in the morning and waited for my host. Turned out he fell asleep and none of the contact persons were picking up the phone. Luckily I asked for the address before hand so I took a cab and got to the place where I waited another 2 hours in the 13 degrees cold before he woke up. The accommodation was awfull. Everything was dirty. The kitchen, the bathroom, the living room. There was mold everywhere and they regularly smoked weed and cigarettes inside. It was also freezing cold inside just as it was outside. But what can you do? So you just hope it gets better. That you can get used to it.
On the next day, the host family of another student invited me over for a Sunday lunch. It was a nice family house with the sweetest couple. And they offered me to stay with them for the month, which I gladly accepted.
The hospital was 15 minutes walking distance. It was built 3 years ago so it was completely new. The doctors, nurses and staff were just amazing. Every morning they would all greet you, shake your hand and ask how you are. Don’t expect them to speak English though. They mostly don’t, however a few doctors in my team did speak well but it was quite unusual. Also Chilean Spanish is fast and incomprehensible even for a good Spanish speaker.
In the hospital we got free lunches as we persuaded the head of university that its just six of us and that it would be nice of them if they did so. For breakfast I would always get some fruits in the supermarket and the dinner was provided by the host family.
The weather is cold in july as they have winter at the time so don’t forget to pack a lot of warm stuff. If I would pack now I would take high hiking boots, waterproof warm trousers and a waterproof warm jacket. I didn’t have very warm clothest so I usually did a lot of layering and it worked.
Considering the social program, we made a trip to Volcano Osorno, which was really nice and well organized. We did some boat cruise, hiking to the waterfalls, hiking up the volcano and we saw beautiful cascades during that weekend.
The second weekend we did a trip to Argentina with the car from the host family. The third weekend the family took us to the coast and the fourth weekend we took off to the north of Chile.
I recommend you to travel afterwards. Money wise its not very cheap in Chile compared to Bolivia or Peru however it is still worth it. As exchange students we made a pretty good team so we traveled together to the north of Chile by plane from Santiago. We stayed in San Pedro de Atacama for four days and did some trips around to the salt lakes for example with a car we rented. Afterwards we traveled down the country through the major cities for another 8 days.
We stayed at hostels some nights and other times we would spend the night at overnight buses. It was a bit exhausting, however definitely the best time of my life and I would go back right away.