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Santiago, Chile
Approx. Time Difference
March–October: +3 hours
October–March: +5 hours
Chilean Universities

   – Year (Starting Spring 2014 through Fall 2014)
   – Spring 2014
   – Fall 2014

This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
“My UCEAP experience abroad was simply amazing. I was able to experience another culture, take classes, make new friends, and in the process, I learned a little something about myself. The knowledge you acquire while studying abroad is practical, not stuffy classroom Spanish. And you learn out of necessity, and for that reason it stays in your mind—it’s like magic. Plus, Chile is indeed the most beautiful country in the world; it has a little something for everyone: mountains, sea, cold, hot, dry, wet, you name it! You’ve got to see it all, so travel when you can!”
~ Sadie Nickelson, UCLA
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network

Contact Information

Program Advisor
Cecilia Ramos
Phone: (805) 893-4138; E-mail:
Operations Specialist
Stacey Hart
Phone: (805) 893-4138; E-mail:
Academic Specialist
Monica Rocha
Phone: (805) 893-2712; E-mail:
Student Finance Accountant
Manuela Geiger-Kolbitsch
Phone: (805) 893-4778; E-mail:
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583

UCEAP Online

Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
Connect with us! Join our Facebook network via the UCEAP Chile page.

Study Center Abroad

UCEAP in Santiago is administered on site by UC faculty member Luis Martin-Cabrera from the UCSD Department of Literature. Professor Martin-Cabrera and the Study Center staff will be available to advise you on academic matters, assist with housing, and provide information on cultural events.
Programa Universidad de California PUC-CHILE
Campus Oriente
Ave. Jaime Guzmán 3300
Ñuñoa Santiago, Chile
Study Center Phone (calling from Chile): (56-2) 354-5160
Luis Martin-Cabrera's Office Phone: (56-2) 354-5270

Phone Number Codes

U.S. international code: 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Chile country code: 56
Santiago city code: 2

Approximate Time Difference

March–October: 3 hours
October–March: 5 hours
Academic Information
Program Overview

Course Format

Courses at both Santiago universities tend to be more lecture-style with less student participation than at UC, although this can vary according to field. Classes are relatively small, with an average of 30 students. A group of 75 students would be considered a large class.
In Chile, the burden of learning is on the student rather than the instructor. As you prepare for a new academic environment, keep the following tips in mind:
  • You will need to communicate with professors before or after class since they are not required to hold office hours.
  • One of the greatest challenges you will face is the amount of reading and writing.
  • Expect to spend more time doing course reading than you might at UC. Carefully determine which texts on a professor’s reading list are required reading and which are recommended. You may need to do extra background reading.
  • Speak directly with your professors as well as with other Chilean students about the course requirements.
  • If you attend the University of Chile, you may need to spend more time meeting with professors to make sure you understand the assignments and schedule of the course.
  • Courses at La Católica are more likely to meet when scheduled, provide clear objectives for the course, and proceed in an organized fashion.
  • Grading in most courses is based on a combination of exams and a final paper.
  • There are also many courses that require group projects, and some classes may have quizzes or an additional paper assigned.

Intensive Language Program (ILP)

Whether you are headed for the University of Chile or the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC), you will take the ILP at PUC.
ILP classes are provided at multiple levels, and you will be assigned to the appropriate level based on written and oral placement exams. You will take the written exam before you leave the U.S. and the oral section when you arrive in Chile. The ILP comprises classroom instruction as well as cultural activities and field trips that complement classroom topics.
The mandatory three-week ILP serves multiple purposes:
  • Improving your language skills and introducing key aspects of Chile.
  • Providing an opportunity to live in prearranged housing so you can get to know the capital city in advance of searching for your own housing.
  • Helping to prepare you for academic success in regular Chilean university classes.
The Study Center also organizes a team of Chilean students from the two host universities to help you get acquainted with local customs. These hermanos may accompany you on some field trips, but mostly they are available to help with such basic tasks as figuring out cell phones, finding housing, and introducing Santiago from the student perspective. Following the ILP, there is a break of at least one week before regular classes begin.


  • You may receive up select between 3.0 to 4.5 UC quarter units (equivalent to 2.0 to 3.0 UC semester units) for the ILP.
  • You may only take the ILP for a letter grade.
  • Attendance is required at all class sessions and related activities.
Academic Culture
The Chilean system of higher education is organized the way graduate programs are organized in the United States. Most Chilean college students enter directly into a professional program and devote themselves immediately and almost exclusively to their chosen field of study, whether it is agronomy, literature, medicine, law, or business. At both Chilean universities, economics and business courses are offered by professional schools. Expect your Chilean classmates to be highly focused.
General education requirements are not typically part of a Chilean student’s academic program; thus they are admitted to and take courses in only one facultad. This restriction does not apply to you as a UC student; you may take courses from any facultad (provided you meet the course prerequisites). At the University of Chile, each facultad may follow a slightly different calendar, which may be confusing if you choose courses from different facultades. It is best to review your plans with the UCEAP Study Center after arrival in Santiago.
Chilean students follow strict degree programs in their majors (carreras) with few elective courses. Any allowed electives are provided within the student’s facultad. Thus, Chilean university students tend to have more experience in their major field of study than their UC counterparts. Coursework at the third- and fourth-year levels is more advanced than it is in the U.S., and in many cases may also be more specialized. Seek out and follow the advice of the host university advisors and the Study Center staff when you make your final course choices.
In general, most Chilean students attend school full time and do not have outside jobs. Typically, students live with their families and study at the local university. Students who choose to study at a distant location often live in boarding houses, apartments, or rooms in Chilean households.
Host universities in Santiago generally provide course syllabi, but this practice is not always consistent. For most facultades at La Católica, a general syllabus is readily available online (see Course Information in this chapter) and more detailed information is provided in class. Since the supply and use of textbooks is limited, students depend on photocopy services or the library reserve system.
Course Information

Academic Program

You will be placed at either the University of Chile or La Católica before you depart from the U.S. Placement is based on academic interests stated in your UCEAP application, and host university availability and academic strengths. Wherever you are placed, you will be fully immersed into the regular coursework of the university you attend. Chilean semesters offer 16 weeks of instruction and an additional one- to two-week schedule of final exams.
If at any time you have trouble with your studies, contact the Study Center staff. They will be able to refer you to various resources in Santiago for private tutoring.

Course Information

Explore the UCEAP Program Search for additional course information (including important details and restrictions), the PUC website, and the University of Chile website.
Finding the right courses is critical for a successful semester. Both universities offer advising assistance and provide lists of courses suitable for international students.
Each facultad provides all the courses needed by its own students; for you as a visitor, finding the right courses can require persistence.
Do not limit your search to the particular facultad that specializes in your field. For example, history courses may be part of the curriculum for sociology majors, and thus found not only in the Facultad de Filosofia y Humanidades—where you would find the history major—but also in the Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, which sponsors the sociology major.
Visit the host university websites as you complete your academic planning.
Remember that not all listed courses will be available; consult the Study Center staff for their assessment of all courses before actual enrollment takes place.


You are responsible for submitting specific application forms and documents prior to enrollment (required by both PUC and the University of Chile for international students):
  • Follow the instructions for required forms in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist and e-mails from your UCEAP Operations Specialist and Program Advisor.
  • Complete and return the required host institution documents.
  • Failure to submit the necessary documents will jeopardize your admission to the host institution and participation in this program.
Both universities have an online registration system in which you will preregister, as part of the application process, for your courses prior to leaving the U.S. You will, however, have the opportunity to finalize your course selection and final registration after your arrival in Santiago.


You will register twice: once for UCEAP and once for your host university. In addition to enrolling in host university classes, you must fill out your MyEAP Study List each term. The Study Center staff will assist with both of these procedures.
It is important that you adhere to the established deadlines for adding and dropping courses at your host university and for submitting your MyEAP registration. Be sure to review your MyEAP Study List carefully; the course information listed—subject area, title, and units—is what will appear on your UC transcript.


  • You must take a full-time course of study on UCEAP and enroll in a minimum of 18 UC quarter units each semester.
  • If you are from a semester campus (i.e., Berkeley or Merced), consider keeping your study list between 19.5 and 22.5 UC quarter units, which is equivalent to 13 to 15 UC semester units.
Most classes at both universities range from 5 to 7 units and students usually take about four courses to meet the minimum unit requirement. Unit values will be noted in MyEAP if the course is currently listed in the catalog.
Independent Study / Internships
The Study Center in Santiago is particularly active in arranging internships and independent study opportunities for qualified students; it has one of the most extensive and well-organized internship programs in Santiago, making internship placements possible in a wide variety of fields and activities. Internships and other special studies enable you to become better integrated in Chilean society while developing Spanish language skills in practical settings.
UCEAP students have been placed in a wide variety of institutions including government ministries, research foundations, banks and business, human rights and women’s rights groups, AIDS prevention and public health programs, and indigenous rights and ecology programs. Students have also participated in projects and conducted research in the fields of education, the arts, business and economics, environmental resource preservation, gender studies, and the documentation and preservation of local cultures.
If you have a special interest, approach the Study Center staff after arrival with a proposed project plan to see if placement is possible. In all cases, you must consult with the Study Center Director to shape your projects and determine assessment requirements and number of units.
Extending UCEAP Participation

Plan Ahead to Extend

You may request to extend your time in Chile from the first (spring) semester to the full academic year or from the fall semester to the following spring semester. The UCEAP program in Santiago follows the Chilean academic year, which begins in March. If you extend from the fall to the spring semester, you will have a two- to three-month break between programs.
If you are admitted for the year program, you are expected to complete the academic year in Chile. A request to shorten the stay will be treated as a withdrawal from UCEAP and an administrative fee will be charged.

Extension Process

  • Indicate your intent to extend your studies in Chile by completing a Departmental/College Preliminary Approval to Extend (DPA) form before you depart.
  • Once abroad, if you decide to extend your stay, you must meet with the Study Center Director and fill out a Request for Final Approval (RFA) form.
  • The deadline to submit an RFA is November 1 to extend from the fall to spring semester and May 1 to extend from the spring to year program.
  • If you do not submit a DPA prior to traveling to Chile, you may submit a Petition to Extend to the Study Center by the appropriate deadline. Please note that the petition process can take several weeks.
  • Requests are considered when there is space at the host institution and when the request is supported by the Study Center Director, the UCEAP Systemwide Office, and your UC campus department head and dean or provost.
  • Once your extension is approved, UCEAP will notify your UC campus registrar and Financial Aid Office. For information about the steps you need to take in regards to finances, see the Extension of Participation chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
  • You are required to leave the country for at least 72 hours between both programs due to visa requirements. The Study Center staff in Chile will provide more information. If you plan to return to the U.S. in between semesters, make sure to ask about this visa process before leaving Chile. If you go back to the U.S. without checking, you may have to repeat the complex visa process from the U.S., which is much more difficult than taking care of it from within Chile.
  • If you extend from fall to spring, you will have a substantial break between semesters and may lose insurance coverage. Make sure you consult the Insurance Information tab on the UCEAP Participants web page and purchase an insurance extension to avoid a gap in coverage.
Cultural Awareness
Educate Yourself
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before departure. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely, the Rough Guide, the Insight Guide Chile, and the Open Road Publishing Chile Guide are excellent resources. Also look for How to Survive in the Chilean Jungle by Brennan and Taboada.
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals. A couple of Chile’s major newspapers can also be accessed online: El Mercurio and La Tercera. If you can only read one book prior to departure, it should be A Nation of Enemies: Chile Under Pinochet, by Pamela Constable and Arturo Valenzuela. These authors explain how the major events of recent Chilean history have affected different groups of Chileans and why they continue to shape social, cultural, and political life.
Cultural Differences

Social Interactions

Chilean culture is very family-oriented with large extended family networks. Extended family life is an important component of Chilean society.
UCEAP students report having difficulty making Chilean friends, as many locals have known each other for years. Although meeting new people can be intimidating, most students agree that it is best for you to make the first effort as it is uncommon for Chilean students to do so.
Meeting students in classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and living either with a Chilean family or with Chilean students are all great ways to make friends and become more familiar with the culture.
In your conversations with Chileans, avoid issues that can potentially create conflict. Chileans can get very serious about particular issues. Two such issues include: Augusto Pinochet (learn some Chilean history before you go so you are aware of the many facets of the “Pinochet Years”); and soccer teams, particularly the Chilean national team (how good or bad the players are).
The Catholic Church is an important influence, and many Chileans are practicing Catholics.


Dating in Chile is different than dating in the United States. Chilean students often go out in groups of friends, although they also pair off (pololear). The relationship between pololos can be intense and may lead to marriage. Moreover, Chilean cultural cues and expectations are different, particularly with regard to sexual relationships. Although it is changing slowly, Chile remains a country ruled by machismo and sexual relations generally reflect a double standard.
Relationships abroad can progress at different rates than at home. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider what you want in a relationship before finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation or one with unfortunate consequences.

View of Drugs & Alcohol

Chilean students like to socialize as much as Americans do, but there are some cultural differences. Because the drinking age in Chile is 18, Americans will find themselves in a situation of unaccustomed freedom with respect to alcohol. It is important to know that Chileans are accustomed to drinking with meals and at parties, but it is not socially acceptable to get drunk. Students may also encounter marijuana and other drugs at parties, but drugs are illegal in Chile and international students caught with drugs are likely to be expelled from the country.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation

Predeparture Orientation

You are required to attend a predeparture orientation provided by your UC campus. The Campus UCEAP Office will provide dates and details about orientation when they are available.

Arrival Instructions

See detailed arrival information in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. Print and take the arrival instructions sheet with you to Santiago.
There is no group flight to Chile. You will be traveling independently and you are required to arrive in Chile before noon on the Official UCEAP Start Date. Specific Arrival Instructions will be included in your Predeparture Checklist.
You will fly to Santiago International Airport (airport code SCL). From there, you will take a taxi or shuttle to PUC Campus Oriente.
Campus Oriente address:
PUC-CHILE, Campus Oriente
Ave. Jaime Guzmán 3300
Santiago, Chile
A taxi ride from the airport to Campus Oriente will take about 45 minutes and will cost about U.S. $41. To take a taxi from the airport, go to the booth inside the airport titled “Taxi Oficial Aeropuerto,” located right outside of customs. You will be asked for your destination, charged according to the distance, and given a receipt. Tipping the driver later is not necessary.

Early Arrival

If you arrive early and need a place to stay, the Study Center recommends the following local hostel:
Hostal Happy House
Moneda 1829, Barrio Brasil (Metro los Heroes)
Telephone number: 56-2-6884849
Hostal Providencia at Ave. Vicuña MacKenna 92
You will still need to arrive at Campus Oriente by the time specified in your Arrival Instructions.

On-Site Orientation

Participation in the on-site orientation activities in Chile is mandatory.
  • A three-day retreat takes place during your first weekend in Chile.
  • All costs of the orientation are included in UCEAP fees.
  • You will return to Santiago early by bus, in time to begin ILP instruction Monday morning.
Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country

Travel Tips

You are responsible for making all travel arrangements and for reserving and purchasing your tickets (even if you are on full financial aid). Your Financial Aid Office is not responsible for purchasing tickets.
The program begins at a predetermined place, time, and date. Late arrivals are not acceptable. For the Official UCEAP Start Date, see the Program Calendar on the Participants page.  
  • Update your contact information in MyEAP with any changes to your address, e-mail, and telephone number. Check your e-mail regularly for important updates, especially as your departure date draws near. Once abroad, make sure to update MyEAP with your local address in Santiago.
  • Purchase a changeable round-trip or onward airline ticket. Your exams and program end date are always subject to change, so you should have the option to alter your return date if necessary.
  • Standby tickets are not allowed. You must have a flight that will get you to Santiago on time for the official start of the program.
  • Flights are routinely changed or canceled. Confirm your flight schedule about two weeks before your departure date. Check again a few days ahead of time, just to make sure your itinerary has not been changed.
  • When traveling, always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in checked luggage.
  • Identify luggage on the inside and outside with your name, address, and destination. You might also protect luggage with personal property or luggage insurance.
  • Never leave luggage unattended.
  • Luggage restrictions vary by airline. Check with your airline directly to learn about luggage rules and restrictions.
  • Due to increased airport security, you must check directly with your airline or travel agent about any special measures you should take, such as the time you need to arrive at the airport and extra identification that may be required.

Methods of Travel

The UCEAP Student Budget does not includes funds for recreational travel.
Public transportation is available to all parts of Santiago. Subways run from east to west and north to south in the city; buses and taxis are also widely available. Avoid taking buses during rush hour. Use the subway when possible; it covers all the main parts of Santiago and is clean, fast, and reliable.
Trains run from Santiago to the south of the country, with a final destination at Chillán. The Main Railway Station is located in Av. L. Bernardo O’Higgins 3322. Buses also run to all parts of the country.
Two Chilean airlines, Lan Chile and Sky, run regular daily flights.
Travel Sign-out reminder: Any time you leave Santiago for more than 24 hours at a time, you are required to accurately complete and submit the Travel Sign-out form in MyEAP. It is essential for UCEAP to be able to locate you in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.

Bus Terminal Information

Terminal Alameda

Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 3750
(Universidad de Santiago Metro Station, Line 1)
Phone: 02-776-2424
Destinations: North, South, and Coast
Recommended because this terminal has the best two bus lines: Tur-Bus and Pullman Bus

Terminal de Buses Santiago

Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 3850
(Universidad de Santiago Metro Station, Line 1
Phone: 02-376-1750
Destinations: Coast, South, and International destinations (here you can find a variety of buses and prices.)

Terrapuerto Los Héroes

Tucapel Jiménes 21, Santiago Centro
(Los Héroes Metro Station, Line 1)
Phone: 02-420-0099
Destinations: North and South

Terminal de Buses San Borja

San Borja 184–Estación Central(Estación Central Metro Station, Line 1)
Phone: 776-0645
Destinations: North, South, and International destinations
Travel Documents
You need a passport and visa to participate in the Chile program. If you do not already have a passport, apply for one immediately. The Study Center submits a copy of your passport page to the host university to officially register you as an international student.
Applying for a Chilean visa is a complex process. Follow directions carefully, budget your time, and start the process early.


  • The UCEAP Systemwide Office provides information about obtaining a student visa in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. You will download the visa instructions and application forms from the UCEAP and consulate websites.
  • You are required to obtain a student visa from the Chilean consulate closest to your permanent address (either in Los Angeles or San Francisco) before departure. If your permanent address is outside California, ask the consulate closest to your UC campus about how best to proceed. In some cases, you may be able to have your visa processed in California instead of another state. Begin researching this process early on. Contact the Operations Specialist at (805) 893-4138 with any questions.
  • If you are studying in another country prior to the UCEAP program in Chile, please contact the Operations Specialist to see what, if any, visa arrangements can be made.
  • Depending on the consulate, an appointment or mailing your documents several weeks before traveling may be necessary. Budget plenty of time for the visa process and read all instructions carefully.
  • You must pick up your visa from the consulate. Another person may not pick up your visa for you. You will be asked to sign documents and your thumbprint will be taken.
  • Once in Chile, you must register your visa within 30 days of arrival. Details about completing this process will be provided during orientation after arrival.
  • If you fail to obtain a student visa, you may be withdrawn from the program.
For additional information, call the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4138.
Packing Tips


  • Documents (passport, visa, etc.)
  • Light clothing (for December–March)
  • Coat
  • Sweater and other warm clothes that can be layered
  • Rain gear (heavy parka, rain boots, etc., for May–August)
  • Prescription medication (travel with your prescription medication in your carry-on luggage. See the Health chapter in this guide for more info.)


  • Laptop
  • Plug adaptor (see Electrical Items in this chapter)
  • Spanish grammar books
  • Spanish dictionary (can also be purchased abroad)
  • English-language reference materials on subjects of study (e.g., Chilean history, U.S-Chile relations, economics, social science theory, etc.)
  • Other research materials or books
  • Yoga mat (they are very expensive and hard to find in Latin America)
  • Lightweight gifts for hosts and new friends (suggestions: CDs; T-shirts with city, state, or campus logos; UC pens or decals; baseball caps; California pistachios or almonds; or California postcards, posters, or scenic calendars)

Weather and Climate

Throughout the program, the weather in Chile will vary significantly, even if you are only there for one semester. Santiago’s Mediterranean climate tends to be sunny throughout most of the year, although the smog creates a hazy atmosphere even on the sunniest days.
As you pack, keep the following in mind:
  • Spring semester students who arrive in January will experience the Chilean summer (December through March) when temperatures may soar into the 90s; light clothing is advised during this period.
  • Fall students and those students staying for the year should be aware that in the winter (June through September) daytime temperatures may drop into the 30s (around 0°C), which is much colder than California. Indoor heating is uneven and sometimes absent.
  • The rainy season in the Santiago area is from May to August, and intermittent showers are common during both the fall and spring. Keep in mind that nearly everything available in California is available in Chile, although brands may vary.

The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.

Special Consideration

The months of June through October can be cold in Santiago. Most Chilean homes and apartments do not have central heating, so the use of a gas space heater is common. Some people purchase a carbon monoxide detector that monitors the air and sounds an alarm if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present. Carbon monoxide detectors are not available in Chile. If you are interested in having a carbon monoxide alarm (battery operated), plan to purchase one before departure.

Electrical Items

When packing electrical items, note the following:
  • Voltage in Chile is 220. Check the voltage of anything electric from the U.S. before plugging it into an outlet. You can buy converters for electrical appliances in Chile.
  • Most laptops have their own converters, so you may only need plug adaptors. Check before plugging in.
  • For smaller, less expensive appliances (e.g., hair dryers or electric shavers), it is probably easiest to buy the appliance abroad rather than to purchase an adaptor.
  • Customs officials may try to charge an import tax for any electrical items brought into Chile; however, if you indicate that they are personal items, the charge may be waived. Customs officials may list the items in your passport, which requires you to take the same items out of the country when you leave. Therefore, do not ask others to carry any items abroad for you (laptop, camera, extra bags, etc.), and do not volunteer to do so for others. Airlines may not allow you to take them and customs abroad may charge you a high duty.
  • Do not have computers or other electrical devices shipped to you from the U.S. These items will be subject to large import duties.
Return Travel
You will need to book a round-trip or onward flight in order to be granted a student visa. Some students who are planning on studying for one year may encounter difficulty finding a return flight. Many airlines have regulations that prohibit purchasing a return flight that is more than 12 months from the date of purchase. Research airfares carefully and be sure to purchase a fare with a changeable return date. You may need to purchase a ticket with a return date that will then need to be changed at a later time for a fee.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Handling Money Abroad
Get acquainted with how to handle your finances abroad before you go; the more you know now, the easier life will be when you get to Chile:
  • It is not possible to cash checks from U.S. banks in Chile.
  • You are strongly encouraged to engage in online banking when abroad.
  • Different university departments are located in different parts of the city, which means that you will use public transportation on a daily basis. Budget at least $150 per month for transportation.
  • Rent is expected to be about $350 to $550 per month.
  • If you experience financial hardships while in Chile (a delay in financial aid or a lost check) you may be able to obtain a short-term, temporary loan from the Study Center under certain circumstances. Contact the Study Center as soon as you know you have a problem.
  • The unit of currency is the Chilean peso (CLP). Notes come in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 pesos. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 pesos.
  • Take a small amount of cash with you to Chile (equivalent to U.S. $50 to $100 in Chilean pesos). Besides providing an opportunity to become familiar with the currency, the funds will be needed upon arrival for snacks, transportation, tips, and unexpected purchases. You can arrange for a U.S. bank to purchase Chilean pesos; the process may take a week or more.
  • You can exchange money at the airport once abroad; however, exchange rates may be unfavorable and an exchange office may not be open at the time of arrival.

ATM Card

Personal identification numbers (PINs) outside the U.S. need to be four digits and should not begin with zero.
The best way to obtain money abroad is by using an ATM card. ATM cards are widely accepted in Chile and allow you to easily obtain cash, make deposits and transfers, and verify account balances.
It is easy to tell where ATM cards are accepted by simply matching the logos on the ATM card with those displayed on the ATM.
To get an ATM card, you must first open an account in the U.S. (if you do not have one already). Accounts usually are connected to a checking or share draft account. Check with the bank to make sure you can use an ATM to access funds in Chile and what fees may be charged, if any. The bank will then issue an ATM card and a personal identification number (PIN).
Once abroad, you can use your ATM card to withdraw money from your U.S. account. There is no waiting period; money deposited in the U.S. is immediately available for withdrawal abroad (there may be limitations on the amount of cash accessible per transaction). Check with your bank to see what options are available and if your bank has a daily withdrawal limit.
When traveling, keep in mind that ATMs might not be as readily available in the countryside.

Credit Cards and Travelers Checks

Credit cards, particularly those that allow users to withdraw cash are very useful in Chile. Visa and MasterCard are most widely accepted in Santiago.
Students in the past have taken travelers checks as a backup method to access cash. UCEAP students report American Express checks are the easiest to use. If lost or stolen, travelers checks can be replaced with proof of a list of serial numbers (kept separate from the checks). Travelers checks in small denominations are often more widely accepted than those in $50 or $100 denominations. Keep in mind, though, that it is not possible to change travelers checks in small towns when the banks and money exchanges are closed. While travelers checks may be used as a source of backup funds, the exchange rate on them is quite poor, and this method should not be used as a routine way of obtaining cash.
Financial Aid Students

Financial Aid

Receiving financial aid on time can become a problem abroad due to delays in processing and mailing checks. To minimize delays, sign up for the eRefund option in MyEAP. Information about this option is detailed in the Money Matters chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad .
Be knowledgeable about program fees and understand how financial aid will be applied toward these fees. Disbursements can be issued only after a financial aid package has been approved and fees have been met.
Year students are responsible for applying for financial aid for the coming academic year. Contact your financial aid officer for acceptance.
Establish plans to receive backup funds if necessary, as well as temporary loans to cover emergencies that may occur while waiting for financial aid checks.
Your financial aid package is based partly on the student budget for the program. The estimated round-trip airfare amount in the budget is based on the cost of a changeable student fare to Chile. If your independent travel costs are greater than the program budget airfare estimate, notify your financial aid counselor. Neither UCEAP nor the campus Financial Aid Office can guarantee funding for the additional cost.
Communications Abroad
Internet Access

Computer Access & Use

Whether you choose to bring your own laptop or use the computers available at your host university or the Study Center, the following information will help you prepare your computer needs prior to departure:
  • You are encouraged to bring your own laptop if possible, although it is not essential.
  • Although computers are available at both university campuses and at the Study Center, do not arrive expecting to find the same computer access that is available at UC. Plan on scheduling computer work ahead of time.
  • PUC: You have free access to both PCs and Macs at each PUC campus, as well as Internet access, although at times the computer facilities can be crowded.
  • University of Chile: You have free computer access at the university’s downtown office. Because University of Chile computing facilities tend to be inadequate, there are also several PCs available for use at the Study Center.

Study Center Computers

The Study Center provides several computers and printers, though preference is given to UC students attending the University of Chile. These computers are available for word processing. They are also connected to the Internet for e-mail access and Internet research. Do not use Study Center computers for printing large papers or projects.

Internet Cafés

Internet cafés are readily available around the city and provide efficient access to the Internet. If you bring your own laptop, you can reduce online charges by downloading e-mail to a CD or flash drive at an Internet café and reading it offline on the laptop.

Homestay Computer Access

While it is becoming more popular, computer access is not as available in most Chilean residences as it is in homes in the U.S. Therefore, if you consider computer access an essential need, you should take a laptop. Do not automatically expect Internet access in your homestay. It is available in some homes, but not all. You may need to go to an Internet café or use host university computers.
If you have Internet access at your Chilean homestay, you may need to negotiate with the host family and determine limits to Internet usage, considering the impact on their electric and phone bills.
Approximate time difference: March–October: +3 hours, October–March: +5 hours
It is important to be aware of phone etiquette in order to foster a healthy relationship with your host family.
  • Discuss phone usage with your host family before using the phone.
  • Avoid incurring phone charges on your host’s phone bill by purchasing an international phone card. You can buy a long-distance phone card at newspaper kiosks throughout Santiago. Another way to avoid charges on a host’s bill is to make collect calls, although this option is more expensive. It is also common to use Skype and Google to stay in touch with family and friends at home.
  • There are easily accessible phone centers where you can make (and pay for) long-distance phone calls.
  • Some students purchase or rent cell phones in Chile. This is generally easier, more reliable, and less expensive than using your U.S. cell phone with an international plan.
  • The country code for Chile is 56 and the area code for Santiago is 2. If calling Chile from the U.S., first dial 011-56.
Mail & Shipments


  • An ordinary letter sent anywhere in Chile costs about U.S. $0.10. An airmail letter costs U.S. $0.40 to the U.S. and $0.50 to other international destinations. Aerogrammes are U.S. $0.60.
  • Letters and postcards may take several weeks to deliver, although there are express services that offer two-day service. The American Express office in Santiago has a mail service.
  • Regardless of reliability of mail delivery, do not have important documents, checks, cash, or electronic items sent by mail.
  • Have mail sent to the UCEAP Study Center address until you have a permanent address. Mail can be addressed to you at:Programa Universidad de California
    PUC-CHILE, Campus Oriente
    Ave. Jaime Guzmán 3300
    Santiago, Chile
    Be sure to include “Universidad de California,” otherwise mail may first go to numerous other campus departments.
  • Packages sent to you from the U.S. should be sent certified or registered, or through an express service so the items can be tracked. A number of special mail couriers (FedEx, DHL, Chilexpress) are available.
  • Contents should be clearly listed on the outside. If contents are not listed, customs will open the package, which will delay delivery.
  • Avoid having electronic goods or other expensive new items sent. These items attract customs scrutiny, and are subject to high fees.
  • Items intended for your personal use should not include price tags (new items that include price tags will be held with the assumption that they are intended for resale in Chile). This applies to clothing and shoes as well—advise your family or friends about this before the goods are shipped to you.
  • Small packages that properly indicate the contents are generally delivered without a problem (unless the contents include food). Large packages going through customs may have to be picked up at a special post office.
Housing & Meals
Where Will I Live?

ILP Housing

During the Intensive Language Program (ILP), which lasts for the first month of the program, you will live in a prearranged homestay. The cost of housing during the ILP is included in your UCEAP fees.
Prior to departure, you will fill out a housing questionnaire, which is used by the Study Center to help place you in an appropriate homestay. The Study Center works carefully to match you to a host, and most students are satisfied with the results. You will find out more about your Chilean host upon arrival in Santiago—this information will not be provided prior to the program start date.
Santiago is a large metropolitan area. It is common for university students and young professionals to rent a room in a Chilean household. These are intended as mutually convenient economic arrangements with no expected social component. It is into this environment that UCEAP enters when arranging ILP housing for students.
Not all homestays are a “home away from home.” Many host families have had international students in the past, so some hosts tend to view relationships with students strictly as a source of additional income. The Study Center attempts to locate hosts who will welcome students into their homes and relate to them on a social level, although this cannot always be the case.
The ILP homestay is arranged between the Study Center and the host, not between you and the host. Therefore, report homestay difficulties to the Study Center during the ILP.

Santiago Housing

After the ILP, room and board will not be included in your UCEAP fees. You will need to determine with your host or landlord how payments will be handled.
Following the ILP, you may choose to remain in the originally assigned ILP household or you may seek different accommodations.
There is a short break between the end of the ILP and the beginning of the semester, it is recommended that you stay in your homestay housing for another month following the ILP so that you have a "home base" if you choose to travel during your break and don't want to carry around all of your belongings.  Since you will not have your final course registration set for the regular semester right after the ILP ends, it may also be advantageous for you to delay your move until you know where your classes will be located in the city.  You can then find housing that is located in a more convenient area for your daily commute to your classes.
At the end of the spring ILP, housing prices tend to increase because regular Chilean students are returning to the university after summer break. All options will be discussed further upon arrival at orientation.

Your Options include:

  • Renting a room in a Chilean home
  • Sharing an apartment or house with other students (preferably Chilean)
  • Renting a room in a pensión (boarding house)


If you really want to learn about Chilean culture, the Study Center staff in Chile strongly recommends living with a Chilean family or living in a pensión with other Chilean students. In a pensión, you can expect to have your own room while sharing the bathroom and other facilities with Chilean students. Breakfast and light dinners may be included, depending on what you negotiate.
UCEAP alumni highly recommend finding housing close to campus; however, this is not always possible and many students commute via public transportation. Santiago is a large city, but it is well connected via public transportation (a clean subway system and extensive bus routes). Expect the cost of commuting to be around US$150 per month.


Renting an apartment with other students can provide more personal freedom, but can be more expensive than living with a family. In addition, finding a suitable apartment can take some time and can require considerable deposits. Chilean students do not generally return to Santiago and seek roommates until March or April; thus, if you want to rent an apartment with Chilean students, you will need to stay in a pensión temporarily until you can locate Chilean roommates.
UCEAP discourages sharing living quarters with other UC or American students. Although living with other UCEAP students can be comforting, it tends to limit social contacts and language acquisition.
Tips for Living in a Chilean Home
There is probably no better way to be immersed in Chilean culture than to share everyday life with a family, although there are some adjustments to consider:
  • You may not have lived with your own family in a few years.
  • Conforming to someone else’s rules, especially if they appear strict, may be a strain. Homestay families may set curfews, restrict your house guests, or have different rules governing use of the phone, food, and utilities.
  • You need to be flexible. The burden of adapting is on you, not on the host family.
  • The homestay is intended to be a mutually convenient social arrangement, a cultural experience, and a financial agreement between you and the host family.
  • Being in a family setting, it is imperative to take into account local customs as families come to know you personally. Ideally, you can become part of the family, but to do so requires time, patience, sensitivity, negotiation, and understanding. A perfect match is not always possible. Dialogue and consideration are usually the best vehicles for good results.
The primary purpose of living with a host family is to interact socially and culturally, and to improve language proficiency in Spanish. It is expected that everyone, including other guests in the home, will speak Spanish at all times. If a host family requests that you speak English, you may want to work out a reciprocal arrangement and occasionally speak in English to help your host family with the language. However, you must remain committed to developing your Spanish language skills.
There may be some unspoken conditions and responsibilities to a homestay involving everything from use of the kitchen to possible curfews. To avoid any confusion, you must communicate with your host family and consider the following:
  • Do not expect to have free reign in the home; stricter customs may make you feel like a guest in your Chilean home.
  • Manners are important; occasionally bring your host family a small gift and remember to offer compliments when appropriate.
  • Remember that many Chileans smoke in the house.
  • Neatness counts! Make your bed.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse will not be tolerated. You may be asked to leave by your host family or be dismissed from the program.
  • During the ILP, your room will be fully furnished. You may need towels and sheets if you move to an apartment on your own.
  • Find out if you will be issued keys to the house and if your family expects you to be home at a certain time of night.
  • Ask about your rights and responsibilities concerning the bathroom facilities. If possible, set up a schedule, especially for the morning.
  • Find out how many meals per day you will receive. What should be done if you know you will miss a meal? What should you do if you miss a meal unintentionally? Discuss any special dietary needs and scheduled meal times. Inquire about access to the kitchen and the household’s food. Vegetarians must be flexible.
  • Learn who is responsible for doing the laundry.
  • Ask if you are allowed to have guests, including overnight guests. Discuss parties and social gatherings in the home.
  • Remember to always inform the host family about any trips out of town and times when you may expect to arrive home late, in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you understand how payment for room and board is to be made. When is payment due? During the ILP, your housing payment is included in your UCEAP fees. If you stay with your host family after the ILP, you need to know how payments will be handled.
  • The telephone is generally an expensive utility so you will have limited use of the family telephone for personal calls. Ask your host family about the use of the phone and how to reimburse the family for phone bills, then follow the set guidelines. When the program is over, leave some money to cover charges that have not yet been paid. Be prepared to take a phone card or buy one in Chile, or purchase a cell phone.
  • Do not leave lights, computers, or other items running when not in use. Check with your host family regarding use of heat, etc.
  • Moderate water usage is highly recommended. Talk with your host family early on.
Report difficulties to the Study Center Director if they occur. Air your concerns immediately to avoid having a small incident build up into a major annoyance. Something that causes upset or even rage may be the result of a cultural misunderstanding that the Study Center may be able to help explain.
Chileans typically eat three or four meals a day, with lunch constituting the main meal (usually served between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.).
In general, Chilean food is basic and simply seasoned. It is heavily based on red meat, rice, and potatoes. Popular dishes include seafood, corn cakes, empanadas, beans, and corn pies. Vegetarians will be able to find suitable food, although not many Chileans are vegetarians. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at local markets. There are several vegetarian restaurants and a growing interest in the vegetarian diet.
Santiago boasts a huge variety of interesting restaurants at a range of prices—from Mexican and Peruvian to Japanese and Middle Eastern. Outside of Santiago, however, Chilean, Chinese, and Italian food are the most common.
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
Extracurricular Activities
 According to Chilean visa laws, you are not allowed to work while in Chile.

Get Involved

You are encouraged to participate in cultural activities while abroad, including visits to museums, monuments, performances, theater and musical events, and tours. The Study Center can provide information about cultural and social events. In order to integrate more fully into the local community, you are urged to:
  • Become involved in extracurricular activities
  • Join clubs, sports, musical, theater, or art groups
  • Provide volunteer services to social organizations
  • Participate in athletic events and religious activities
  • Attend lectures, discussions, and receptions in academic and community circles
  • Participate in an internship
Santiago itself is a large international city that offers many activities. Art galleries and museums, opera, movie theaters, and architecturally and culturally unique urban and suburban neighborhoods offer much to see and do. Popular sites include:
  • The Municipal Theater
  • Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro with its art galleries and antique stores
  • The Royal Customs Building (Museum of pre-Columbian Art)
  • Palace of Justice, Manso de Velasco’s House
  • The San Cristobal Hill Metropolitan Park, which includes a zoo, two swimming pools, picnic areas, restaurants, and the Enoteca Restaurant
Fun shopping areas include the downtown area between Miraflores and Amunategui streets and Av. B. O’Higgins and Santo Domingo Street; and Providencia Avenue, including, among others, chic boutiques on Suecia, General Holley, Los Leones, and Ricardo Lyon streets. In the eastern area there are some shopping centers, including Panorámico, Apumanque, Parque Arauco, and Altolas Condes.


At the Pontifical Catholic University you can participate in sports at a competitive, educational, or recreational level. Available athletic activities include aerobics, basketball, gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), judo, mountain climbing, physical training, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball, and weight training. A variety of athletic facilities are available, including six soccer pitches, twelve tennis courts, ten lighted all-purpose fields, two tracks, one lighted hockey field, one heated pool, eight locker rooms, one physical therapy clinic, and a two-story gymnasium.
The University of Chile has more limited recreation facilities.
Both universities have intramural teams in a variety of sports. Private health clubs are available in Santiago, but membership fees are somewhat expensive. Skiing and hiking are but two of the general recreational activities available in the surrounding areas.
Students with Disabilities
​While in Chile, students with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States. While steps are being taken to improve conditions for persons with disabilities, many public places are not adapted to accommodate these needs. For information on handicap accessible locations in Santiago and other locations in Chile, you can visit (Spanish only). 
Travel Sign-out Form
In addition to the on-site orientation at the beginning of the program, additional excursions may be provided by the Study Center to enrich your study abroad experience throughout the semester. These may include:
  • A field trip to El Teniente copper mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world’s largest underground mine.
  • A visit to Villa Grimaldi Park for Peace, a human rights monument.
  • Other small group excursions throughout the term (check with the Study Center once you are in Chile to learn more about available offerings). Some possibilities may include the Ruta de Poetas, a visit to a Mapuche indigenous village, and a trip to Pomaire (small ceramics town).
LGBTIQ Students
​Both male and female same-sex relationships are legal in Chile but it doesn't recognize same-sex couples unions. For more information, refer to Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (MOVILH) and the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Student Live chapter, Diversity section.
UCEAP Insurance

Information for 13-14 Academic Year and Spring 2014 Students

Review the UCEAP health insurance policy plan before departing for Chile and note all exclusions. If EA/USA is not called first before seeking care,you will need to pay for medical services up front and submit an insurance claim form for reimbursement if expense is eligible. If you need insurance claim forms, visit the Insurance tab of the UCEAP Participants web portal.
Medical claims processing time is about four to six weeks after receipt of the claim. Keep photocopies of all documentation submitted in case the claim gets lost in the mail. 
Print and carry your insurance card with you at all times.

Information for Fall 2014 Students Only

Before you travel:
Print and carry your insurance card at all times.
While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy.  It is not the same as your campus or private insurance and it is not ACA compliant for domestic coverage.  The premium cost is paid by the University of California for UC students.  In addition to the previous link, you can read Benefits at a Glance. Familiarize yourself with the coverage and eligibility criteria
There is no deductible or co-insurance but the insurance works on a reimbursement basis. Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance.  Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies.  It is the patient's responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.  You can submit a claim for a refund of covered expenses to the UCEAP insurance carrier.
Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term.
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
In addition to the following sections, read the Health and Safety chapters of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.Access the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health website for more information. If you experience a medical emergency, get medical assistance, and notify the UCEAP Study Center immediately. The Study Center staff is your first point of contact in Chile.
Medical services in Chile are relatively modern and similar to what one would find in the U.S. Hospitals with ambulance services and pharmacies exist throughout Chile, with the greatest numbers located in Santiago.
While on UCEAP, you are covered by insurance anywhere in the world starting 14 days before the official start of your UCEAP program and ending 31 days after the official end of the program. The UCEAP assistance providers, Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA) will provide assistance to you 24/7.  The EA/USA contact information is in your insurance card.
It is important to contact the UCEAP assistance provider, EA/USA,  in advance. (See contact information and how to arrange for a guarantee of payment below.)
In a non-emergency, EA/USA will assist you in making appointments if you contact them first, and whenever possible, EA/USA will pay the medical provider directly.
In an emergency, seek appropriate medical care first, then call Carmen Gloria Guinez and the UCEAP Study Center Director, and then Europ Assistance for insurance purposes.
Contact Information and Location of Hospitals where UCEAP students can get care without having to pay directly provided they call EA/USA before going.
Clínica Alemana
Avda. Manquehue Norte 1499, Vitacura, Santiago
Phones: (56-2) 210 1111, (56-2) 210 18 00
Emergency: (56-2) 910 7700
Fax: (56-2) 210 1214
Clínica Santa María
Avda. Santa Maria 0500
Urgencias: Bellavista 0415- Santiago
Front Desk - (56-2) 2913 0000
Emergency: (56-2) 2913 1109
How to Arrange for Guarantee of Payment Through EA/USA
At the hospitals listed above, you don’t need to pay for treatment up front if you make prior arrangements with EA/USA. To do this, make an appointment, arrange for the insurance guarantee letter with EA/USA, by contacting them, and then go to the hospital.  They will establish a case number for you, and their agents in Chile will contact the hospitals for a guarantee of payment, stating that ACE Insurance will provide full payment for your medical treatment.

Call Europ Assistance/USA 24/7 at 00+1+202+828-5896 (international collect)
The UCEAP Insurance Policy number is ADDN 04834823, where the “0” is a ZERO.
A copy of the UCEAP insurance card, with important contact information, can be found here:
If you follow this procedure, you will NOT have to pay in advance. If you do not, you will need to pay upfront and submit an insurance claim.  In case you pay upfront, please keep all receipts and documents from the hospital and follow claims procedures with the UCEAP insurance.
Physical Health
​While in Chile, you may experience health problems related to altitude, climate extremes, and change of diet. Approaching the Tropic of Capricorn, sun and heat can be difficult, particularly at high altitudes. Cholera is present in some areas of the Southern Cone. Observe the safe drinking water precautions.
Food and beverage precautions are essential to reduce the likelihood of illness.
Prescription Medications
Europ Assistance/USA (EA/USA), UCEAP travel assistance providers, can get information regarding the availability of your prescription medication in Chile. Call the University of California-dedicated line 1+(866) 451-7606 (inside the U.S.) for assistance. If you are taking medication abroad, be sure to review the Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and note the following recommendations:
  • Prescription medications should not be mailed from the U.S. They may be opened at Chilean customs and will not be delivered to you. Customs always opens packages.
  • If your prescription is not available in Chile, plan on bringing enough medication for the length of your stay.
  • Take a copy of your doctor’s prescription with you so that it can be considered by a local health practitioner in Chile.
  • Travel with a letter from your doctor, translated into Spanish, that lists the active ingredients of the medication and your diagnosis and treatment.
  • Always transport your medications in their original containers and in your carry-on luggage.
  • If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to carry a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity.
Mental Health
​The UCEAP Insurance Plan covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor.
You may expect to quickly adapt to the new culture—and you need to adjust rapidly to effectively meet the academic demands of the program. However, the many cultural differences that seem exciting to you at first can also be distressing and quickly lead to feelings of misunderstanding, loneliness, and culture shock. Culture shock and homesick feelings are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture shock function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life. It is easy to become worn down from physical and mental stress due to the vastly different environment.
Talk to the Study Center staff and Director.  Don't try to cope on your own.  An objective trained professional can help when you feel like no one can understand what you are dealing with. 
Health Risks
Air Quality
Air pollution is a significant health problem in Santiago, especially during the winter (May through August). If you have a respiratory or cardiac condition, you will be at greater risk for complications from air pollution, which may include cough, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or chest pain. You can minimize the risk by staying indoors, avoiding outdoor exercise, and drinking plenty of fluids. If you have chronic health conditions, include this information on the homestay questionnaire and consult with your physician regarding precautions before departure. Make sure your condition is noted on your UCEAP Health Clearance. Keep this in mind when choosing a neighborhood for your residence in Santiago.
Smog will present a source of irritation for everyone. Santiago is in a valley, so the smog from factories and cars gets trapped in the valley and the air becomes polluted. Jogging outdoors is not recommended during the Chilean winter months (May–August) due to the poor air quality. Additional information on air quality levels is available at the National Air Quality Information Service (SINCA) website.
Food Allergies

​Students with severe food allergies should take precautions, as the cuisine may include ingredients that can cause anaphylaxis in those affected. A language barrier increases the risks associated with severe food allergies.
Precautions to take include:

  • Research the local cuisine.
  • Discuss the risks with your doctor before departure.
  • Carry symptom-reducing medications at all times, including epinephrine.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or tag with instructions for assistance in both English and the local language. Wearing medical identification at all times can help should a life-threatening reaction occur.
  • Carry a card written in the local language that will warn food preparers about the allergy and possible reaction.
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health chapter, Allergies section.
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk

Be Responsible for Your Security: Avoid Becoming a Victim

  • As in any large city, petty theft and crime are prevalent, especially in crowded places like the metro, bus stations, and the airport. As usual, foreigners tend to be easier targets; blend in and take necessary personal safety precautions when in public.
  • Wear clothing with inside pockets, especially if carrying important documents. Secure purses and wallets, especially in crowded places such as discos and marketplaces.
  • Crime is a problem as in all large cities around the world. Beware of thieves and pickpockets. Constantly watch your belongings. Avoid talking on your cell phone or wearing headphones when walking down the street. Keep your camera concealed. Be cautious, especially when you are alone. Walk in groups whenever possible.
  • Carry backpacks/purses on the front of the body, not the back. Do not place money, documents, or other valuables in backpacks. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  Always watch your wallet, especially in the metro.
  • Keep copies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, etc.) in a separate, safe place.
  • Remain alert in public or crowded places. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Have a buddy system: Travel in groups of three or more, and never walk alone at night.
  • Have a cell phone, charged and turned on, with you at all times so that you can be reached quickly in the event of an emergency.
  • Practice safe drinking. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation.Being under the influence of alcohol increases the likelihood of being a victim of crime.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn't the best place to be.

Street Harassment

Sexual street harassment (verbal comments or even physical advances) has surprised many UCEAP students. Past students remark that piropos, or catcalls, to American women are common. Although usually no harm is meant, you may find it offensive. The best advice is to ignore the perpetrator, as protesting usually results in an escalation of the offending behavior.
Women should never walk alone after dark, and should practice “safety in numbers.” Be aware and take precautions once in Chile. The Study Center Director will cover this topic in depth after you arrive in Santiago.
Personal behavior is crucial to your safety. Both men and women need to inform themselves about the basic dynamics of male and female relationships in Chile. Dating rules vary. Exercise caution and good communication if you choose to start a relationship. Additional information about cultural differences is provided in the Cultural Awareness chapter of this guide.


Chile experiences occasional blackouts, where electricity and cell phone communication is interrupted for several hours. The frequency of blackouts likely will rise due to limited energy resources. Ensure that you have a flashlight in the event that you experience a blackout.
Crime & Prevention
Study abroad, like most other things in life, involves risks. You and your family have a role to play in minimizing potential dangers, and UCEAP expects you to participate actively in minimizing your risks while abroad.
UCEAP cannot:
  • Guarantee the safety of participants or ensure that risk will not at times be significantly greater than on a UC campus.
  • Monitor the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of individual participants any more than is the case on a UC campus.
However, UCEAP makes reasonable efforts to establish a safe environment in its programs abroad, and to counsel students on potential risks and necessary precautions.
Pay careful attention to the following information regarding safety in Santiago. Flexibility and an informed perspective will be critical to help you adapt to your new environment. An understanding of the social reality and close attention to your surroundings may help you avoid potential problems.
According to University of California’s security provider, Chile is one of the safest, most stable countries in South America. While crime is on the rise, it is relatively modest by South American standards. Most criminal activity takes the form of petty theft, pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and non-violent robberies. 
Purse snatching or slashing of straps and pick-pocketing are most prevalent in crowded tourist locations and pedestrian shopping areas in downtown Santiago, as well as in subway stations, on subway trains, in bus terminals, and on crowded buses. Criminals often work in pairs, one distracting the victim’s attention by a motion or sound and the other stealing the victim’s property.
In downtown Santiago, the risk of being a victim of pick-pocketing increases on weekends and after dark. During these times, the number of assaults and robberies escalate in popular tourist areas such as Paseo de los Huerfanos, Paseo Ahumada, Cerro Santa Lucia, Cerro San Cristobal, and the Bellavista neighborhoods. Avoid Cerro San Cristobal, the Mercado Central area, and Cerro Santa Lucia after dark.
There has been a significant increase in the reported incidents involving credit card cloning and credit card fraud. Police entities have uncovered and arrested various networks engaged in cloning credit cards and producing fraudulent blank credit cards. Several employees in hospitality establishments have been caught scanning clients’ credit cards through small, personal credit card scanners. It is common for wait staff, gasoline station attendants, and most facilities to bring a credit card scanning device to you so you can scan and maintain possession of your credit card.
Another growing problem in Santiago is theft of electronic devices, particularly of laptops, car stereos, cameras, and automobile computers.

Police Response

The carabineros of Chile are the uniformed national police force and have primary responsibility for crime prevention. They are considered to be the most professional police force in Latin America. Their effectiveness is hampered by a lack of resources, such as manpower and patrol vehicles. Therefore, what would be considered a rapid response time to an incident in the U.S. is not possible in Chile.
Civil Unrest


Strikes, demonstrations, and protests occur in Chile frequently, most often in Santiago. Civil unrest is related to labor, political, and education issues. For information on current, and ongoing, Chilean student demonstrations, refer to the UCEAP website.
Advice during demonstrations:
  • Avoid all demonstrations, which could become violent without notice.
  • Prepare for significant transportation and service disruptions during protests and strikes.
  • Monitor local media for updates on possible road blocks and plan alternate routes.
  • Allow additional time for ground travel due to possible road closures and police activity.
  • If you choose to actively participate in a riot or demonstration, against our strong advice, there are no benefits payable under the UCEAP policy, should you be injured.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Road conditions throughout most of Chile are outstanding by South American standards and comparable to roads in the U.S. Road signage is abundant on city streets and highways. Traffic lights and pedestrian signals work well, but some motorists and pedestrians follow them loosely, and drivers tend to be very aggressive.  

Be cautious when walking in and around Santiago and crossing the streets. Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Chile.
Chile has modern infrastructure. Taxis and public transportation are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Agree to a taxi fare before embarking. To use the public bus system in Santiago you need to obtain the prepaid “Bip” card. This card can also be used when traveling on the Santiago subway.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
Chile is located in a highly seismically-active zone known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. As a result, earthquakes in coastal Chile are common. Several of the strongest earthquakes in history have occurred in Chile. Prepare yourself for a natural disaster by consulting the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Chile's oficina.
Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently, and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Previous earthquakes in Chile have caused death, injury, and extensive damage to buildings as well as electrical power outages and breaks in phone service. The likelihood of experiencing an earthquake during your stay is no more likely than what would be expected in California.

Chilean Building Codes

As is the case in the U.S., Chilean architects and civil engineers (many trained and educated in the U.S.) design buildings in Chile to withstand earthquakes. After the Great Chilean Earthquake in 1960, the government of Chile enacted stringent building codes to ensure that new buildings in the country are earthquake resistant. Local authorities enforce these building codes.
There is a likelihood that you will experience an earthquake and/or aftershocks. Be prepared for an earthquake/

How to Prepare:

  • Identify hazards in your home.
  • Make a plan: Identify safe places in and out of the home. If you live in an apartment building, learn the emergency evacuation plan that is in place for the building.
  • Survive: Drop, cover, and hold on. If you are inside a building, go immediately to one of your identified safe places, duck down and hold on. After the shaking stops, exit by stairways only, and watch for fallen debris. If you are outside, do not go back into the building.
  • Travel with a flashlight (battery operated or hand crank).
  • Have a portable AM/FM or short-wave radio (battery operated or hand crank).
  • Have non-perishable food items and ample bottled water.
  • Have a whistle with you at all times to signal for help.
  • Familiarize yourself with all earthquake shelters.
  • Know where money, credit cards, identity documents, and travel documents are located.
  • Know where personal medication is located; wear a medical alert identification bracelet if needed.
  • Communicate: After the earthquake, call your family in the U.S. and the UCEAP Study Center immediately to report on your welfare.
  • Follow all regular earthquake precautions as you would in California.
Fire Safety
In An Emergency
If you are abroad
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times.

U.S. Department of State Consular Affairs

UCEAP strongly encourages you to follow the UCEAP Study Center safety measures and to register online with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, (STEP), before your departure from the U.S. You will need your U.S. Passport.

Santiago Emergency Phone Numbers

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Chile is:
Ambulance (SAMU). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
Fire department (bomberos) . . . . . . . . 132
Police (carabineros) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
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