“Spring-like” greetings from Montevideo, Uruguay! Living in Montevideo really feels more like living in a town than a city, although half of Uruguay’s population lives here in the capital. Everything you need (malls, beaches, parks, and restaurants) is within walking distance or at least a short bus ride. You do a lot with buses here because there is no train or subway system like there is in Hamburg.
In Uruguay, there is a lot to see. Nice beaches, like in Punta del Este, where the Río de la Plata enters the Atlantic Ocean, for example, are all along the coast. In Piriápolis you can climb hills and enjoy the breathtaking view, or visit cultural heritage sites like Colonia del Sacramento, which was founded by the Portuguese. Long-distance buses or ferries will bring you everywhere within the country and across national borders as well. Two must-sees in the area are Buenos Aires and the waterfalls of Iguazu on the Argentinian/Brazilian border. I am also planning to visit Chile, Bolivia, and Peru in December.
But before that, I have to finish the semester here in Montevideo. We have to work hard during the lecture season and do a lot of group work, and prepare presentations and mid-term exams. I registered for courses that are held in English. My favorite lecture is called Managing Multicultural Diversity and I can put my knowledge to the test straightaway, since there are more than 50 exchange students from all over the world at Universidad de Montevideo. Now that we have more spare time towards the end of the semester, we meet for parties as well as barbecues, football games in the stadium, going out for dinner, sports or just sunbathing on the beach.
The university itself (one of five universities in Uruguay) is spread across the city in nice, old buildings. Sometimes you feel like you are taking classes in the former living room of a charming mansion. There is a great atmosphere in the classes, which seldom contain more than 30 students. In the canteen they offer snacks and some typical Uruguayan food like empanadas or milanesas. Many of the Uruguayan students go home for their lunch break and usually do not stay on campus at midday.
Meat - and especially the excellent beef - is a characteristic food of Uruguay. But if you think that food or life in general is cheap here, you would be as astonished as I was after my arrival in July. Costs are almost the same as in Germany. An advantage of being here is that Uruguay is one of the safest places in all of Latin America, so that when I’m walking and out on the streets I feel safe.
Montevideo also has something to offer from the logistics and business point of view. The Port of Montevideo has signed a partnership with the port of Hamburg. I still hope I can visit it and take a tour with some other exchange students in the weeks before my departure. And there is also Zonamerica, a free trade zone in the city where big multinational companies warehouse their goods before distributing them all over the continent.
Ultimately, I am very happy that I had the chance to come to Montevideo for my exchange program. And with a little cultural adaptation and tolerance it is all working out well, even for a structured and organized German.