A visit to the Universidad de Austral Chile (UACh)

We sat out for a quick car ride over to isla teja, where the university is located. We arrived to meet Loreto and German at the main administration building on campus. The meeting started with the Vice-Rector of the University of Austral greeting us and saying a few words. We listened to a few other presentations about higher education in Chile and in particular at the Universidad de Austral. We learned that Chile has about 4,000 total PhDs for the total population of approximately 17 million people (it is important here to note that there are around 4, 000 more PhDs outside of the country as well). We learned that UACh is 2nd in Chile in research, top 7 in Chile in terms of overall institutions, and 112/1269 out of all Universities in Latin America. I found it interesting that UACh is also a top institution in community engagement and outreach.

We later took a short walk down to the riverfront to look for a place to have lunch.  We found a place with amazing sandwiches that were the size of footballs. After lunch we took a walk down to the city square to watch the start of the tour de Chile. We meet up with Loreto and German for a tour of the microbiology labs, there we met with faculty and students and saw some of their ongoing research.  Later that day we had the chance to view the vet med facilities and meet faculty. This was interesting to me because it was the first time that I had been inside of a vet hospital.

Valdivia!!!!

We left our hotel in route to the airport for our trip to Valdivia. I was excited to tell the truth. I was ready to get to see Southern Chile. I had a window seat on the plan and enjoy the view of the Andes Mountains. Once we arrived at the airport, we met our host Loreto and German. We had about a 30-40 min. ride from the airport to our hotel. I was amazed by the variety of vegetation and splashes of color that I saw while traveling.

After making it to the hotel, we rested for a few hours then took a bus out to the coast to see the Marine Lab Calfuco (deep blue). It was a great ride out to the coast. We had the opportunity to stop and take a few photos. Once at the lab we listen to a presentation by a few professors about their research. We also had the chance to meet with a few graduate students about their work.After our return to the hotel, we had a chance to rest for bit before dinner. At dinner, we met a number of administrators and faculty from the Universidad de Austral.

A visit to the Universidad de Chile

Today we meet down in the lobby for a quick chat then took a short walk to the subway to make our way to visit the Universidad de Chile.  We were greeted graciously by our host Soledad and taken up to our meeting room. We listened to a presentation by the head of the graduate department (program) Dr. Daniel Wolf. He provided us with an overview of the Universidad de Chile, including information about the structure of the university and academic program offered. Dr. John Dooley (Virginia Tech International Relations) provided a general overview of Virginia Tech.  We then had a chance to meet with professors from our disciplines for a few minutes. Myself and Justin met with Ernesto Lopez Morales, PhD who serves as the Director of Academic Affairs and International Relations for the  Faculty of Architecture and Planning. We chatted briefly about our background and research interest.  It turned out that all three of our research interest had some overlap, which was urban greening and urban food production. Hopefully there will be some opportunities to do some collaborative work in the future.

After our meeting at the Universidad de Chile we walked up the block a bit to a small cluster of cafes and shops to grab a bit to eat. I cannot stress how fresh and delicious the food is here! I will definitely take home a few ideas to add to my cooking styles upon my return to the states. It was good to sit down and just chat with Dr. DePauw and Dr. Dooley about the trip thus far. We were all excited about our trip to Valdivia to visit Loreto and German and see the campus at the Universidad de Austral.

Later that night we met up for dinner and went to an awesome restaurant called La Biferia (https://foursquare.com/v/la-biferia/4bfebc70369476b0fec48c1f). This place was great, a very small venue with a nice seating area that opened onto the sidewalk. I had the del Monaco steak with mushroom and it was one of the best steaks I had while in Chile. After dinner myself, Angela, Justin, and Jordan met up at the Bar California to watch the NCAA national championship game between LSU and Alabama.

Ah Santiago, what a great city!!

Waking up to, a view of the Andes Mountains is a great way to wake up! As we landed, purchased our visas, and cleared customs we waited a bit for our driver to take us to our hotel. I was surprised by the complexity of the interstate system in Santiago. Once we made it to the hotel, we met up with Justin in the lobby to check in.

We later met up with Dr. DePauw and Dr. Dooley to find a restaurant to have lunch and briefly chat about our travel to Chile. After lunch we took the subway to San Cristobal Hill (http://www.chilexplora.com/ver_local.php?id=1250&ver=panorama&categoria=&idPanorama=1418) to see the Virgin Mary that overlooks the city of Santiago and her 6 million residents.  After our visit to San Cristobal Hill we ventured back to our hotel and decided to meet later that evening for our first pisco sour. After our initial pisco sour, we headed out for an awesome dinner of tapas style food, various cheeses and Carmenere wine at the Louisiana Restaurant. We chatted as a group about our thoughts about Santiago thus far. I was personally taken away by the density of vegetation along the streets , balconies, and rooftops. The various architectural styles from traditional to modern also stood out. This mixture I thought provided Santiago with a nice variety at the street level providing ample space for vendors and street cafes to thrive.

Departure from the US

After a good night’s rest, I meet up with Angela, Adam, and Jordan in the Squires parking lot to start the first leg of our journey to Chile: driving down to Charlotte.  We had about a three-hour drive from Blacksburg, Va. to Charlotte, Nc., which gave us time to catch up and talk. I learned quite a bit of information about everyone outside of the typical research discussion that normally happens when you put more than one doctoral student in a space at one time. Once we arrived in Charlotte, we made our way through security and met up with Margo.

The second part of our trip started in Miami, where we had a long layover. As a group, we talked about the difficulties of navigating through the Miami airport. Once we went through check-in and security, we gathered for a quick bite to eat near our departure gate. We were excited about what was in store for us in Chile especially having the opportunity to meet faculty and administrators from three different institutions.