William Pignon, a graduate management student from Grenoble EM, talks about his experience at Pontificia Universidad Catolica.


To stay six months in Chile, you need a “student visa”. The procedure is heavy so I can’t recommend strongly enough to deal with this issue ASAP! It is appropriate to bring warm clothes if you go there on the first semester (S1) and light ones for S2 as seasons there are reversed. Regarding accommodation, even though it sounds comforting to find one from France, I would rather recommend to wait to be there and stay in a youth hostel or do couch-surfing while visiting and finding THE good deal. There are various options for accommodations: personal apartment, flat-sharing, room within a Chilean family’s house, student residences, and so on… Should you choose this university, PUC should provide you with a flyer addressing this matter. Many foreign students find what they are looking for on the internet (on websites such as and ads are displayed in universities. There are some real estate agencies but I would only recommend this solution in last resort because it is quite expensive. One thing to pay attention to is the proximity of the metro as you will take it countless times. To communicate, the best solution is to buy a pre-paid mobile phone in a retailer like Entel, Claro or others. This solution is crucial when house-hunting as renters answer much more to phone calls than to emails. Don’t hesitate to contact them this way, even though the language barrier and Chilean pronunciation might be a bit discouraging at first! 

Pontificia Universidad Catolica of Chile, one of the best universities of the country

PUCcasacentral 2

The headquarters of the university

For many years I have been interested in the emerging countries. Exchanges with these countries increase, leading to intensified cooperation with local interlocutors and career opportunities. I was particularly attracted by Latin America and the great emerging country which is Brazil. However, I didn’t master Portuguese and classes were in English. Therefore, after studying one year in English Track, I chose to immerse myself in the Hispanic world and improve my Spanish. I picked up Chile. It isn’t an emerging country but it is part of this emerging area. GEM has a partnership with a good university: the Pontificia

Inside Casa central

Inside Casa central

Universidad Catolica (PUC) of Chile. It isone of the best universities of the country and is well-known in Latin America. Depending on the majors, classes at the PUC spread on various campuses. The

Faculty of Business (Ingeneria Comercial) is located on the campus of San Joaquin, 30 minutes away from city center in metro. This campus is a US-style one: vast, open, and equipped… with its own StarBucks! There are only a few classes but they are intensive. Chilean students come forward and react fast. Personal homework is required, notably readings. It can become substantial so students form groups to split the work to do.

It often looks like a European capital!

I don’t have the impression that I experienced a real cultural shock upon arrival. On the contrary, I have been surprised by the modernity of the infrastructures and transports. It often looks like a European

capital! Well… American with large streets and avenues, big residential areas, huge malls… On this point, Uncle Sam’s influence on Chile, its population and history becomes really apparent. You



will experience a cultural shock when getting away from Santiago and the beaten tracks. Santiago is immense! It is normal if you get lost the first days (even weeks)… There are many cool places to discover such as Plaza de Armas, barrio Bellavista,  cerro Santa Lucia or San Cristobal, Mercado Central…  often full of cafes, bars, restaurants where you can fill up with some Pastel de Choclo, Ceviche or Lomo a lo pobre or grab a Pisco Sour or a Mote con huesillos. Unless you prefer to take a Completo or Empanada from a hawker!

Many places to discover


Summit of the Licancabur volcano

Chile offers an incredible variety of landscapes, climates, colors, atmospheres… The transportation means mostly used across the country (and Latin America in general) is the bus. TurBus and Pullman Bus operate on the whole territory and within some adjacent countries. Travel times may last long (6 hours for Santiago – La Serena, 12 for Puerto Montt, 24 for San Pedro de Atacama…) but buses are well-equipped and comfortable.

From Santiago, you can spend one day within Cajon del Maipo and bath into natural thermal baths, do hiking or ride horses and admire the Andes. If you are in Chile during the winter and you enjoy skiing, there are two ski resorts nearby. For a week-end excursion, Valparaiso is nice. Artistic

During a trip in Bolivia

During a trip in Bolivia

graphs, hills, elevators and boutiques make the city attractive. For a trip of 3-4 days, you can go to Mendoza. The route crossing over the Andes is wonderful. On the spot, it is suggested to visit the city on foot or the vineyards by bike.  You will have a glimpse of the temperament of the Argentineans and the Mendozina night life. Further destinations such as Pisco Elqui in the North or the Lake region and island of Chiloe in the South are also worth the journey. If you have time (and money), I strongly recommend making a 4-5 days journey to the desert of Atacama or Patagonia:  such incredible places! At last, why not go on an end-of-stay trip in Argentina, Bolivia or Peru? Maybe even all of them at once?



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