Hola queridas y queridos,
my name is Sven, I originally hail from a small, middle-of-nowhere town in Germany, and I’m a joint honours philosophy and politics student. In the first days of July, I left my wee rural nest to start my third year abroad at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in the country’s capital Santiago. I’ll be blogging about what’s going on throughout the year, so I invite you to grab a snack and/or beverage of your choice and tag along if you like 🙂
I started my year abroad almost three months ago -which I just realised is INSANE *grabs cigarette and coffee and contemplates live and the meaning of time*– and yet, this is my first entry. Perdón. Half of semester one here is already behind me and continuous assessment is taking its toll on my otherwise impeccable productivity and organizational skills (and sense of humour). I’m sorry for this and solemnly swear that there shall be no such unaccounted for period again. Before I take you through what’s been happening after leaving Germany in my next blog, I’d like to run you through what spending a year abroad entails before boarding the plane. Still, buckle up 😉
It’s very much a cliché, but spending my third year abroad’s been a dream come true. Soñao, as you’d call it here. After spending a year abroad in Ecuador in high school and a year volunteering in Costa Rica and travelling Central America after graduating, I was dead-set on going to Latin America again, because obviously it’s the best place in the world. So when the application for the international exchange programme opened, in my head I was already drinking wine in Chile my decision was already made. So I applied and waited, and waited, and waited, not-so-patiently -the bureaucratic paper mountain (spoiler alert) no es nada compared to how nerve wrecking this is- until being offered a place on the very last possible day. This was sometime toward the end of February and at this point the only thing I knew was that classes would start on the first of August and that there was loads to be organised before: overseas application, visa, insurance, flights, not being homeless, the whole shabang. Flights to the other side of the globe don’t get cheaper with time so I booked them fingers-faster-than-brain-style without the official acceptance letter from my host university. As my sister had been living in Panama for a year and I wasn’t going to see her for another one if I went straight to Chile and this was a good excuse to meet up somewhere along or not-so-along the way, we decided to catch up in Cuba. From La Habana to Santiago the cheapest option was to stop in Lima, Buenos Aires, and Córdoba. Price-wise it was the same having a six-hour or six-day layover in Buenos Aires, soooo… hehe.
By June, a month before my flight, I still hadn’t received an offer letter from PUC and wasn’t able to apply for a visa. I’m not gonna lie, given that the visa was supposed to take at least four weeks I was -I’m heavily self-censoring here- mildly nervous. I got the letter a couple of days later, applied for a visa online, and was sent a confirmation e-mail that my visa was ready for collection 1h51min(!) later. German efficiency? Divine intervention? The estimated 5000 desperate emails I had already sent to the consulate? Aonknow. I jumped on the next train to Munich, radiating with excitement and joy, to pick up this holiest of all papers – and wasn’t given it. Technical issues. Instead I got a print-out I was supposed to present to the immigration authorities at the airport in Santiago (which did, after all, work out just fine) and left into the unknown. Literally. I got lost in Munich like a drunk American after the Oktoberfest.
The only thing still on my to-do-list was not being homeless in Santiago. Because my host university doesn’t offer student accommodation and I didn’t want to rent a room without knowing this seven-million-people city or my future flatmates, I just put that tiny detail aside and focused on the fun ahead: travelling to Cuba and Buenos Aires. Also, without much booked, I was homeless there as well, so whatevs.
To keep this entry short and admittedly for the sake of hopefully getting you hooked via a cliffhanger as I am to How To Get Away With Murder (this is not sponsored by How To Get Away With Murder even though they have millions of dollahs), I’ll stop here.
I’ll be back soon with stories and pictures from Cuba and Buenos Aires, but if you can’t wait and want some spoilers or simply feel meh about reading in general, check out my Instagram @svendoingphotos. And if you have any specific questions don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hasta pronto y cuídense,