I worked at the Institute for Educational Informatics at the Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco. The institute develops surveys (they are basically exams using LimeSurvey) that are conducted nation-wide in Chile. Mainly I was doing research, but I was also programming some automated tests for the surveys. I had two big tasks and a few smaller ones - I developed a load balanced test for one of the nation-wide exams to make sure the servers were capable of a load of requests and I evaluated several big data visualisation tools (e.g. Google Data Studio, Tableau). I found the tasks challenging, but manageable. I could always ask my coworkers for help. Not many people at work spoke English, so I ended up learning a massive amount of new vocabulary in Spanish, especially technical terms. The work environment was informal and I really loved going to work every day because my work colleagues were so friendly, funny and helpful. We were constantly laughing in the office, sending each other memes and going out for drinks after work! Working felt like hanging out with friends. We spend so much time every day at work - it better be fun! I never had such a pleasant experience with an internship in my own country. I would have definitely prolonged my internship if I had had the time!!

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I had to apply for a visa to be able to stay in Chile for more than 90 days which was kind of a hassle. But I received the visa just in time to board my journey to Chile! With the help of my Chilean buddy, I found a room in a shared house just two blocks away from my workplace. I lived with two Chileans and a girl from France. My rent was fairly cheap compared to Austria (140 e), but overall Chile is not a cheap country. I found it hard to believe at first but at the supermarket, I paid Austrian prices. This is because Chile is like the USA of South America - they benefit from exporting natural resources and most people live a middle-class life. I arrived just at the end of winter in Chile. The city I lived in - Temuco - was in southern Chile. The landscape was similar to Austria and also the weather. I did not enjoy the first few weeks too much since it was really cold (0° C in the morning) and there was no central heating! I ended up sleeping in a sleeping bag for most of my time in Temuco. The weather got a lot better by the end of November through (hot pants-hot)! There weren’t many other internationals in Temuco and most people didn’t speak a word of English. I had 5 years of Spanish, so I managed quite well (after getting used to the weird Chilean accent and their slang words!!). I did meet a few other trainees and exchange students from the university, but mostly I hung out with my flatmates or the awesome people from work. Chileans are kind of shy when it comes to speaking with foreigners. For them, it is really rare to see Europeans in the streets. They treated me very friendly and respectfully and had a lot of questions about Austria (okay, 90% of the time they confused it with Australia first). I wasn’t a big fan of the food. The fact that I am vegetarian influenced this, but in general I would say the food is a bit bland and there are avocado, mayo and tomato on everything. Some of the meat dishes and the barbecues looked tasty though! You might think they enjoy a lot of chilli because of the name of the country - but no! They only add chilli to the rim of the glasses of their Micheladas (beer with lemon juice). Of course, not only their beer is delicious, but also their wine and the Pisco Sour! About 300.000 people live in Temuco and I have to say - there’s not really much to do there. You have to know where the fiesta is at. But the city is a great hub to see other places in Chile! Chile is a very long-stretched country - some people even say it looks like chilli and that that’s where the name came from. In the north you have the Atacama desert, in the centre, you have the capital city Santiago and in the south, you have the massive mountains in Patagonia and the antarctic. There are numerous national parks with volcanos, lakes, forests and waterfalls to explore. I also got the opportunity to visit a community of the Mapuche - the indigenous people in Chile. I would say Chile is a very safe country and the bus system offers pretty economic prices. Touristic activities can be pricey though.


I benefited substantially from doing this internship. I got the chance to explore several different tools for implementing load balance tests and big data visualisation. I even got to play with an eye-tracking device. Apart from all the new technology I got to use, my Spanish speaking skills improved tremendously since we were only communicating in Spanish at work. The first weeks I really thought I could not live in Chile, but after getting to know the Chileans I didn’t want to leave when I had to return to Austria. All of the people in my office where such interesting personalities and I learned many things from them. I grew as a person and got to know myself a little better. Even though I struggled with the cold weather, the language barrier and the culture shock at first - in the end, I felt like Chile was my home. There were a lot of tears when I had to say goodbye to my friends and work colleagues. I fell in love with Chile and it’s people and I want to go back as soon as possible to get to know the people and the country even more! Thank you IAESTE! Work - Experience - Discover!

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