Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

Valparaíso, Chile

The exchange agreement

The exchange agreement between the University of Lethbridge and the Pontífica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso was signed in spring 2003. Currently, we are able to send two UofL exchange students to UCV each semester.

Semester dates

Fall semester
Regular semester: late-July–mid-December
Pre-semester Spanish language courses (optional; fee-based): June–July
Orientation: late-July
Suggested arrival: late-July
Spring semester
Regular semester: early-March–mid-July
Pre-semester Spanish language course (optional; fee-based): February
Orientation: early-March

The country

Chile has an unusual shape; it is a very long and narrow country. From north to south, it ranges from desert to glaciers, by way of cliffs, valleys, lakes, volcanoes, forests, beaches, islands, and canals. From east to west, it is squeezed between the Andes mountain range, with altitudes greater than 6,000 meters, and the Pacific Ocean, whose cold and restless waters reach a depth of 8,000 meters in some places. Of course, Chile's climate is as diverse as its geography. Aside from the obviously extreme climatic conditions of the Andes and the Atacama, the country enjoys a comfortable temperate climate.

For more information about Chile see sites such as: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chile.

The city

Valparaiso is the country's leading port and is located a mere 120 km northwest of Santiago. Valparaíso is Chile's second largest city, which is characterized by its natural and urban beauty, and by the rich cultural environment provided by a great number of higher educational institutions located here. The hills, covered with brightly coloured houses, funiculars (ascending railways), and innumerable stairways, make it one of the most picturesque cities in Chile. For more information about Valparaíso, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valparaiso.

The university

Since its foundation in 1928, the Pontífica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso has established itself as one of the most prestigious institutions of the Chilean higher educational system. Located in the port city of Valparaiso, the Pontífica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso is one of the most important universities in the country, offering a wide variety of professional programs to over 11,600 students. Its academic programs allow students to choose from a wide range of disciplines that include areas of business and economics, agriculture, ocean sciences, art and architecture, basic sciences, social sciences, legal sciences, religious sciences, education, humanities and engineering. For further information, please review the university's website.


All courses at UPCV are taught in Spanish. All exchange students are required to take at least one Spanish language course, from the following list:

  • Español Comunicacional y Cultura Chilena (90 Hours, 6 credits)
  • Written Spanish Course (60 Hours, 3 credits)
  • Ortophony and pronunciation (60 hours, 2 credits)
  • Grammar Course for Foreigners (60 hours, 4 credits)

Exchange students may take up to 6 credits of Spanish courses. (Exceptions can only be made in special circumstances). In order to maximize interaction with local people and language, the remainder of an exchange student's academic load must be completed with 'regular' UCV courses.

UPCV also offers optional pre-semester Spanish and Culture courses. This course is offered during May–July and January. Each course has 45 contact hours oriented to improving Spanish communication and cultural skills, and includes a weekly city tour through Valparaíso. The cost of each pre-semester Spanish program (Summer I, II, or January) is US$1250; housing (home-stay, full room and board) is US$600; application fee: US$80.


The Pontífica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso arranges home-stay housing for its incoming exchange students. Home-stays are a great way for students to fully immerse themselves in the Chilean culture and language. The cost of approximately C$550/month includes room and board, (based on US$2300/semester). Students, not wishing to live with a home-stay family, will be responsible for finding their own private housing in either Valparaíso or Viña Del Mar, and are encouraged to contact previous UofL exchange students to Chile who found their own accommodation.


Local buses called 'micros', offer excellent and efficient service, and are inexpensive. An annual student bus pass called ‘pase escolar’ may be purchased for approximately $15 and offers students a discount on bus rates. These tickets are sold at the UPCV International Office and are unfortunately not available for purchase of less than one year. Taxis are also fairly inexpensive and readily available.

Visa requirements

A study visa is required to go on exchange to Chile.

The visa applicant must apply in person to the Consulate General of Chile, located in Vancouver.

As part of the application process, the applicant must have a Health Certificate signed by one the Official Physicians designated by the Consulate General of Chile, the nearest of which is in Calgary. After submitting the complete visa application package in person, the visa is usually issued within 24 hours.

The visa application process may have changed since this page was updated. Please email International Programs (int.programs@uleth.ca) for more information.

For further details about this visa, contact the Consulate General of Chile in Vancouver:

The Consulate General of Chile in Vancouver
1250-1185 W Georgia
Vancouver BC V6E 4E6
Canada Phone: (604) 681-9162 or (604) 683-9181
E-mail: cgvancca@chilevan.ca
Website: chilevancouver.com

Office hours: Monday to Friday, 09:00–14:00


Based on comments from our previous exchange students to UCV in Chile, the costs for the exchange are approximately as follows:

  • Housing
    • Home-stay - approx. C$550/month (based on US$2300/semester)
    • Private off-campus housing - approx. C$250-500/month
  • Textbooks - none
  • Food - approx. $150/month
  • Transportation - approx. $50/month
  • Flight (return) – approx. $1500
  • Visa - $350 (visa application fee and required medical tests), plus cost of required travel to Consulate-General in Vancouver
  • Optional - pre-semester Spanish course: $2020

Videos and photos

To view on online video clip of a Chile exchange student, and the talk about the Chile exchange at our February 2005 U of L International Program Info Sessions, see: crdcserve.crdc.uleth.ca/movies/exchange/chile.mov.

Student contacts

My time in Chile was unbelievable. I learned so much about myself, and it truly showed me what I am capable of doing when put outside of my security zone. The people are amazing, and the feeling of being able to communicate in another language is awesome. I learned so much and experienced many things I never would have been able to in Lethbridge. I feel like I see another side of life and it has opened my eyes to other things I want to accomplish. I had a great experience, and I recommend it to anyone who is able to go.

Ashley Hewitt, UofL exchange student to Chile

I would recommend PUCV for any student looking for a cultural experience. Chile afforded me the opportunity to see, learn and experience a lot.

Perry Stein, UofL exchange student to Chile

I would recommend PUCV for any student that is … looking for a cultural experience. Chile afforded me the opportunity to see, learn and experience a lot.

Perry Stein, UofL exchange student to Chile

All of the professors I had were very friendly and helpful. They would spend extra time to explain subjects after class. Many professors spoke some English too, so they could translate difficult words for me.

Nicholas Hall, fall 2005 exchange student to Chile

Former and current UofL exchange students to the Pontífica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, as well as our current incoming exchange students from Chile are happy to talk to students interested in the exchange. To request their contact information, please email int.programs@uleth.ca.