On the eve of departure

It is a little over a week before our departure to Chile for the Preparing the Future Professoriate Global Perspectives program in Chile and in the quiet moments of winter break, I take this opportunity to reflect about the country we will visit soon.

The New York Times refers to Chile as “The Thin Country”.  “Thin” obviously refers to the shape of the country and certainly not to its contributions to and growing influences upon Latin America and the world.  With its unusual shape, Chile spans 4300 km (2700 miles) in length and an average of 175km (109 miles) wide.  Chile contains the driest desert in the world (Atacama) in the north, the “cosmopolitan capital” of Santiago in the middle and rain forests in the south.  Chile is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the spectacular snow-capped rugged Andes Mountains on the other. The geography is quite varied and diverse – impressive for sure.

In my exploration of Chile the country, I learned that Chile has struggled to overcome its image as a militaristic country and has recently embraced economic and social change.  Since the late 20th century, Chile has experienced rapid economic growth and is now one of the strongest economies in Latin America.  The current Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has focused on innovation and entrepreneurship to prevent “brain drain”.  President Pinera earned the MA and PhD in Economics from Harvard and served as a Professor of Economics in Chile prior to his election as President in 2010.  He was defeated by Michelle Bachelet in 2006 who became the first female President of Chile after serving 4 years as the first female Health Minister and Defense Minister.  She currently serves as Head of UN Women.

Chile is present in world news today  Recently, we have read stories about the mine collapse, the “trapped” miners and their lives a year later.  The Puyehue volcano erupted earlier this year making news around the world and impacting VT travels to Chile.  Chilean wines continue to make news – the Chilean wines appear in Blacksburg stores and Carmenere finds a home at the Inn at Virginia Tech.  The student protests in Chile this Fall were newsworthy for months and we will be able to gain first hand knowledge of these efforts while in Chile.

Virginia Tech has a special relationship with Chile.  VT has identified a location for our collaborations and have established partnerships with Chilean universities especially Austral University.  The PFP Global Perspective group will have the opportunity to benefit from the relationships and learn about this intriguing country.  I look forward to the visit.  See you in Santiago on January 8th.


Thanks Frommer’s

Some helpful bits and bobs…

By FROMMER’S via The New York Times

Business Hours – Banks are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 2pm, and are closed on Saturday and Sunday. Many commercial offices close for a long lunch hour, which can vary from business to business. Generally, hours are Monday through Friday from 10am to 7pm, closing for lunch around 1 or 1:30pm and reopening at 2:30 or 3pm.

Drinking Laws – The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 18; alcohol is sold every day of the year, with the exception of general elections.

Electricity – Chile‘s electricity standard is 220 volts/50Hz. Electrical sockets have two openings for tubular pins, not flat prongs; adapters are available from most travel stores. Always bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable — or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.

Embassies & Consulates – The only U.S. representative in Chile is the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, located at Av. Andrés Bello 2800 (tel. 2/232-2600; www.usembassy.cl). The Canadian Embassy is at Nuevo Tajamar 481, 12th floor (tel. 2/362-9660; www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/chile). The British Embassy can be found at El Bosque Norte 0125 (tel. 2/370-4100; www.britemb.cl). The Australian Embassy is at Isidora Goyenechea 3621 (tel. 2/550-3500; www.chile.embassy.gov.au). The New Zealand Embassy is at Av. Golf 99, no. 703 (tel. 2/290-9800; www.nzembassy.com/chile).

Emergencies – You’ll want to contact the staff if something happens to you in your hotel. Otherwise, for a police emergency, call tel. 133. For fire, call tel. 132. To call an ambulance, dial tel. 131.

Gasoline (Petrol) – At press time, in Chile, the cost of gasoline was $1.17 (78p) per liter. Taxes are already included in the printed price. One U.S. gallon equals 3.8 liters or .85 imperial gallons.

Language – Spanish is the official language of Chile. Many Chileans in the tourism industry and in major cities speak basic English, but don’t count on it. Try to learn even a dozen basic Spanish phrases before arriving; Frommer’s Spanish PhraseFinder & Dictionary will facilitate your trip tremendously.

Lost & Found – Be sure to tell all of your credit card companies the minute you discover your wallet has been lost or stolen, and file a report at the nearest police precinct. Your credit card company or insurer may require a police report number or record of the loss. Most credit card companies have an emergency toll-free number to call if your card is lost or stolen; they may be able to wire you a cash advance immediately or deliver an emergency credit card in a day or two.

If you need emergency cash over the weekend when all banks and American Express offices are closed, you can have money wired to you via Western Union (tel. 800/325-6000; www.westernunion.com).

Mail – The postal service, called Correos de Chile (tel. 800/267736 or 2/956-0200; www.correosdechile.cl), is very reliable and offers regular and certified mail. Prices for a letter under 20 grams are, respectively, 400 pesos and 925 pesos (70¢/50p and $1.60/£1.05). For express mail services, try FedEx (www.fedex.cl) or DHL (www.dhl.cl), both of which have several locations in Santiago and around Chile.

Newspapers & Magazines – The major dailies are the conservative El Mercurio and the more moderate La Tercera, and the left-leaning La Nación. The newspaper La Segunda is an afternoon paper with scant news and screaming headlines; La Cuarta is a sensationalistic rag but a lot of fun to read if you know anything about Chilean politics or celebrities. Another fun read is The Clinic, a satirical weekly named for the London hospital where Pinochet was arrested. You’ll find 2-day-old editions of the New York Times and North American and European magazines at one of two kiosks in downtown. Both are located on the pedestrian walkway Ahumada (Metro: Univ. de Chile) on the right-hand side when heading up from Avenida Alameda: One is a half-block from Avenida Alameda (this kiosk has cheaper prices), and the other is at Húerfanos. Most kiosks around Santiago sell English editions of Time and Newsweek, and The Economist.

Smoking – Traditionally laissez faire when it comes to smoking regulations, in 2006, Chile introduced stringent new laws requiring restaurants to provide designated nonsmoking areas and a prohibition of cigarette sales within 300 feet of schools. It is not unusual for Chileans to light up between courses and a lack of social etiquette toward nonsmokers certainly still prevails. Most upscale and boutique hotels don’t allow smoking.

Time – Chile is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) from the first Sunday in October until the second Sunday in March; the country is 6 hours behind during the rest of the year. An easy way to remember the time zone switch is that from mid-March to mid-October, Chile is in the same time zone as the eastern U.S. or 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time; from mid-October to mid-March, Chile is 2 hours ahead of the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Tipping – The customary tip in restaurants is 10%. Taxi drivers do not receive tips, nor do hair stylists. Bellhops should be tipped $2 to $3 (£1.30-£2). Gas stations are full-serve, and attendants are tipped $1.25 to $2.50 (85p-£1.70).

Browse here for more NYT Chile insight

Last Chile Meeting

We had our last Chile meeting this week.  It was a great time to get together one more time and talk about our trip.  Each person shared about one of the three Universities that we will be visiting.  These are some of the things that I learned:

*Universidad de Chile– It is the oldest university in Chile.  It boasts that 61% of Chilean presidents have graduated from here.  They have an enrollment of 31,000 with 25,000 undergrads and 6,000 graduates.  Over 1,400 international students study there from all over the world.

*Universidad Catolica de Chile– It is one of 6 Catholic universities in Chile and was declared a pontifical university by Pope Pius XI in 1930.  It was ranked the best Chilean university in 2009.  There are approximately 22,122 students with 3200 as graduate students.

*Universidad Austral de Chile– It was founded in 1954 and gained independence from Universidad the Chile in 1968.  It is located in southern Chile and has an enrollment of 11,000.  It considers itself a research university and is ranked 5th in Chile.  There are 10 PhD programs and 24 Masters programs

How does Virginia Tech compare?

*Virginia Tech– Has over 30,000 students.  It also considers itself a research university and ranks 44th in the United States.  There are 150 Masters and Doctoral programs. Attached is a pdf all about Virginia Tech.  Virginia Tech facts_and_figures_2010-11

It is going to be a great trip!

UC, a primer

A glimpse of UC's Villarrica Regional Campus. Located 750 km south of Santiago, in “La Araucanía” Region, the Villarrica Regional Campus focuses on the training of general Elementary Education

Margo and I are putting together a brief overview of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile to share with our PFP Chile colleagues during our final pre-trip meeting. What follows is a quick summary of the highlights we plan to cover.

  • Mission Statement
    • To achieve excellence in the creation and transfer of knowledge and training of people, inspired by a Catholic understanding and always at the service of the Church and Society.
  • History in Brief
    • Founded on 21 June 1888 by the initiative of the Archbishop of Santiago, Monsignor Mariano Casanova
    • Initial Goal:
      • create an institution that integrated academic excellence and inspired training in Christina doctrine
    • Declared a pontifical university by Pope Pius XI in 1930
    • Granted full academic autonomy by the Chilean government in 1931
    • First two schools were for Law and the Physical Sciences and Math
    • First graduates were civil engineers, architects, and law graduates
  • Demographics
    • Enrollment (2010)
      • 22,122
        • ~ 2400 masters students
        • ~ 800 doctorate students
        • ~ 800 post-doctorate students
      • ~ 1,500 full-time faculty
  • Faculties (roughly equivalent to “colleges” in the US university system)
    • College UC
      • Bachelor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
      • Bachelor of Social Science
      • Bachelor of Arts and Humanities
    • Faculty of Agronomy & Forest Engineering
    • Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Urban Studies
    • Faculty of Arts Faculty of Biological Sciences
    • Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences
    • Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Faculty of Communications
    • Arts Faculty
    • Faculty of Law
    • Faculty of Language and Literature
    • Faculty of Education
    • Faculty of Engineering
    • Faculty of Philosophy
    • Faculty of Physics
    • Faculty of History, Geography, and Political Science
    • Faculty of Mathematics
    • Faculty of Chemistry
    • Faculty of Theology
  • Interesting Facts
    • 1 of 6 Catholic Universities in Chile
    • 1 of 2 Pontifical Universities in Chile
      • Catholic University established by and directly under the authority of the Holy See
      • Licensed to grant academic degrees in sacred faculties, the most important of which are:
        • Sacred Theology
        • Canon Law
        • Sacred Scripture and Philosophy
      • Pontifical universities follow a European system of degrees in the sacred faculties, granting the baccalaureate, the licentiate, and the doctorate
    • 4 Campuses in Santiago
      • “The four Santiago campuses have been selected, adapted, and designed to meet the needs of the fields of study offered on each campus within a rapidly developing urban setting.”
  • Villarrica Campus
    • “The Villarrica Regional Campus is located 750 km south of Santiago, in “La Araucanía” Region, where the density of the Mapuche population living in Chilean rural areas is the highest.”
    • “The main activity of this campus is the training of general Elementary Education teachers who attain a solid humanist emphasis, commit to Christian values, and have the competencies to conduct themselves in a globalized, culturally heterogeneous world that is marked by the use of new technologies.”
  • More Fun Factoids
    • Virtual campus which enables students to contact scholars from other parts of the world
    • 2009 – ranked best Chilean university and the second best in South America
    • Law school is currently ranked 1st in Latin America
    • Alma mater of Sebastían Piñera (current Chilean president)
    • Offers several double degrees at the graduate level with universities in other countries