Foreign exchange students are being drawn to Valparaíso by its pretty buildings set against the hills, its history and its culture, a University of Valparaíso official said.
“Students come to Valparaiso so they can live in a unique city,” said Perla Cisternas Duque, International Student Mobility coordinator for the University of Valparaiso. “We live in a world heritage city and it houses the National Council for Culture and Arts. Every day they can get involved in diverse projects.”
Since 2003, the “Jewel of the Pacific”, known especially for its unique system of funicular elevators that help it’s population climb the steep hills, has been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Its bohemian feel and multicolored clapboard homes continue to draw travellers and students to the city, located 1.5 hours west of Santiago. This year, the University drew 110 foreign exchange students for its fall semester, with youth arriving to study from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Germany, USA, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Italy and France.
«The 110 students we received on this occasion shows that Valparaíso has become a recognized place in the world for these kids coming from distant countries,” said Valle. “This is beneficial for the country, and when they return home they will tell everyone about their experiences here.”
The university is also benefiting from an effort by the Chilean government to draw students to the city. ProChile, the Trade commission of Chile, is spearheading a recruitment effort, and will represent the University in Peru and Bolivia next month.
While Valparaiso is increasingly becoming a destination for foreign students, it is one of many schools being chosen by young people who want to visit Chile. More than 10,000 students arrive in the country each year and most Chilean universities have exchange program agreements with international institutions.