Immersed in South American culture
Sandro Montinaro from Arbon spent one semester studying in the Chilean capital Santiago de Chile. The budding industrial engineer was fascinated by life in this big and bustling city. He is now hoping to get some more international experience under his belt after he has finished his degree program.
“The exchange semester in Chile opened my eyes,” says Sandro. “I met lots of people from different countries, which cured my Swiss tunnel vision a bit.” It has also made him more open-minded and laid-back, he believes. Last year, the 26-year-old student of Industrial Engineering at the FHS St.Gallen spent five months at the Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago de Chile, a partner university of the FHS.
Sandro has been back in Switzerland since the end of December and is currently completing the final semester of his Bachelor’s program. He could certainly imagine working for an international company after graduating. “Thanks to my semester abroad, I can now not only speak German and Italian but also very good Spanish and English,” says Sandro.
Learning to speak English fluently was the reason why Sandro decided to spend a semester abroad in the first place. He had initially hoped to get a place at an FHS partner university in the USA, Australia or England. “But all places had already been allocated to FHS students majoring in International Management, who are given priority,” he says. Students on his course can decide whether they want to spend a semester studying abroad, he tells us.
Stop-off at a hostel
Sandro turned to the staff of the FHS International Office for advice. They recommended Santiago de Chile to him, because there is a partner university there that offers lectures and courses in industrial engineering in English. “I’d always wanted to go to South America, so I agreed right away,” says the Swiss student from Arbon. After deciding on his destination, the next step for Sandro was to compare the subjects of the two universities, apply for a visa and find somewhere to live in Santiago. Because he didn’t trust the pictures of the apartments on the Internet and didn’t want to “buy a pig in a poke”, he decided to move into a hostel first. The university in Santiago assigned him a “buddy”, a kind of mentor. With the help of this Chilean student, it took just two weeks to find a room in a four-person flatshare. “This allowed me to immerse myself in the culture of the country and get to experience how the local students live,” he says, before adding: “I particularly liked the diversity of this huge city, where the possibilities seemed almost endless. Chile is an impressive country with a rich tradition and culture, and lovely people.”
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