A Look at College Life and the Campus Experience in Chile

I wanted to devote a post to my college life and the campus experience here in Chile.

Let me start by telling you a bit about my campus. Universidad Adolfo Ibañez is a private university, so it’s a bit up-scale when compared to other universities in Chile. Also, there are about 11,500 students, including undergraduate and post-graduates.

This school has two main campuses. One in Viña del Mar, which is on the coast. The campus I am currently enrolled at is Peñalolén in the city of Santiago.

“With UAI being a smaller school, it is easier to make friends and hang out in between classes.”

The Peñalolén campus is located on a mountainside in the southeast of the city. The university has five main buildings (A-E) where classes are held, and others for recreation such as the gym and courts/fields. These buildings are not side by side; in fact, they take some walking or a bus ride to get from one building to the next.

Personally, all my classes are in the main building (Building A), and Building B is the only other building I’ve even been in. From what I’ve seen, most of the campus life revolves around this main building.

If a student wants to go from one building to the next, they must wait at a stop and take the bus up or down the hill, or take a long walk to their destination. For example, a student can walk up a stairway from A to B, but it would be recommended to take the bus from A to C.

A campus map.

Also, when compared to SDSU, there seems to be more student-to-student interaction. I feel many SDSU students are more occupied with other responsibilities or feel more isolated on such a big campus with thousands of other students. With UAI being a smaller school, it is easier to make friends and hang out in between classes. They also have several tables for students to pass the time playing ping-pong and foosball, which I thought was very cool.

Furthermore, I feel like the campus environment is more relaxed. The school is isolated from the city, which lowers the intensity. There are locations to sit and grab a bite to eat, as well as lay down on the grass with the view of the city in the background on one side, and tall mountains in the other.

Another thing I’ve noticed here is that students catch a nap almost everywhere; it’s way more common than at SDSU.

There are some similarities, however.

For one thing, you’ll find lots of different organizations tabling. Sometimes it is student organizations selling things or reaching out to students to get them more involved. Other times it’s outside organizations like a bank or some other vendors; I even saw the company Patagonia repairing torn or ripped clothes for students.

One thing I liked happened this week when a sponsored event by Red Bull called Batalla de las Calles, which translates to “the battle of the streets.” It was the finals of a rap battle competition between young people not enrolled at the university; This awesome to see, although I couldn’t watch the whole thing because I had reading to do before my class later that day.

The campus also features student study rooms, but you must reserve them, unlike the rooms in the Love Library which are on a first-come basis. Well, I did find one study room in Building A that you don’t have to reserve, but you must be lucky to find an open seat which can be occupied by a handful of students napping.

Also, the library is much smaller in comparison to SDSU’s, but it does have tables to study at, a few computers to use and some study rooms. Their main computer lab is located on the other side of Building A and students can print there.

While searching for my class, I found there are several screens throughout the building that scroll through the time session of the class, the name of the class, the professor teaching the class and the room number and building where the class will take place. At times the room number can change without students knowing. It’s not like at SDSU where there is a set time and location of the classes found on the online schedule — but there is an app here at UAI that lets you view the list of classes on your phone.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at my Chilean college experience!


Rodrigo Polanco is a fourth year international business major with an emphasis in Spanish and Latin America. He is studying spring semester at Universidad Adolfo Ibanez in Santiago, Chile.

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