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As part of my year abroad studying Spanish, I was fortunate to spend 6 months living in Santiago in Chile. Moving to a new country with new people, a new job and a new language was such a nerve-racking experience but one I will never forget. Here is a roundup of my experience and a few things I learned during my time abroad! 

Livinn Santiago 

Livinn Santiago is an international student accommodation in the capital of Chile and was my residence, my workplace and where I made friends for life. My adventure started here, I learnt about the Chilean culture through taking salsa dance classes, tasting the local food (empanadas are my favourite), enjoying the night life, learning the history and Chilean Spanish (a different Spanish altogether). Whilst I was in Chile, I was there to celebrate the Chilean Independence Day, one of the most important annual celebrations of the year! I worked weekdays as an intern and an ambassador in the marketing department promoting the company through coordinating key marketing events, creating and analysing databases, researching into competitors and developing new online marketing strategies. The weekends were my time to explore and venture within and out of the capital.

Sight-seeing in the Capital

Having the presidential palace only a 5-minute walk away from my accommodation made me feel closer to the Chilean politics, history and culture. Downtown the beautiful architectures gave a great insight into Chilean life. The most popular nightlife destination in Santiago is Bella Vista: an area full of wine bars, clubs and restaurants and attracts many tourists and young people. Santa Lucia is a historical landmark and a park in the middle of the city and was one of the first tourist attractions I visited in Santiago. There were different pathways that spiralled up towards the top of the Santa Lucia Hill which had a castle-like structure. The top of Santa Lucia Hill gives a great view of the city and the mountains.

In my first month, I visited a skiing and snowboarding resort in El Colorado that had open slopes and amazing views. They provided classes for beginners giving everyone the opportunity to get involved. My guilty pleasure in Santiago was the Costanera shopping centre that had 6 floors filled with well-established brands and different restaurants with a variety of different foods. The top floor had both 2D and 3D cinemas where both English and Spanish films were displayed. Inside the Costanera Centre there is Sky Costanera which is 300 metres high and the tallest building in South America. It has an amazing 360° view of the city of Santiago, which is an amazing location to watch the sunset. One of my favourite memories of living in Santiago was taking one last trip to Cerro San Cristobal, another must-see location, on my last day. We took a cable-car to the top and the view from the top was mesmerizing. From the top you can see every part of the city and the Andes and it was amazing to look over the city where I arrived as a stranger and was welcomed as a friend.


Atacama was one the first locations I travelled to out of Santiago and was a huge contrast to the city life with deserts, sand dunes and geysers. In San Pedro de Atacama, we visited hot springs, took a tour through Valle de la Luna, hiked up the sand dunes and squeezed through the narrow gaps in the salt cave. In Salar de Atacama we took a tour to the flamingo’s national reserve where the water of the lake flawlessly mirrored the sky with beautiful views and landscapes and then went on the Cejar Lagoon Tour where we swam and floated in the pure salt water and watched the sunset drinking pisco sours (a typical Chilean cocktail.) We saved the best tour until last where we drove towards El Tatio on a minibus to see the famous geysers. We set off before dawn and got there at 6am which was the best time to see the smoke and the white steam rising from the geysers. It truly was a magical moment and nothing like anything I’d ever seen before! We then explored the hot springs which were located on El Tatio and visited a nearby town with alpacas.


Pichulemu is known as the surf capital in Chile due to its waves, its beautiful scenery and peacefulness. For my friends 21st Birthday we took a 3-hour bus journey to Pichulemu to explore the beach resort city and take surfing classes. This was an incredibly memorable experience as we each got to watch each other attempt to catch a wave whilst the instructor helped us individually giving us hints and tips throughout the session. After the session we spent the rest of the day on the beach and went to a lovely café that served fresh juices and smoothies on the sea-front.


As a weekend trip we took an overnight bus to La Serena where we explored the city, cultural monuments and the beautiful beaches. In Elqui Valley historically known for its Pisco production we visited the distillery and learnt about the pisco-making process, saw the different equipment and finally got to taste the samples. My favourite activity of the trip was horseback riding through Elqui Valley. This was terrifying to begin with as I had never ridden a horse before but the horses were very well-behaved and we rode at a steady pace. On this tour we climbed up the mountains of Elqui Valley, went through the shallow rivers and had time throughout to take pictures and to see the breath-taking views.


Valparaiso and Viña del Mar were our final weekend away trip which was only a short bus journey from Santiago. We first explored Valparaiso, a city full of colours and character, with its cultural street art and graffiti engraved in the buildings and on the ground. One of my favourite quotes which was graffitied on the steps was ‘úteras libres’ translated as “freedom for the uterus” which is a controversial statement even today in some parts of South America. After exploring Valparaiso and its unique galleries, cafes, views and street art we visited Viña del Mar. The coast was definitely one of the biggest tourist attractions and very different in contrast to the serenity of Pichulemu. The beach was jam packed full of tourists, music and laughter.

I made some of the best memories living in Santiago and travelling around Chile and it’s an experience which I will never regret and always remember. I learnt so much about the Chilean history, culture and the people. My adventures continued out of Chile to Peru, Brazil and Argentina and I would like them to continue further in the future. By Kiran Krishnadas