Concepción, a Joven’s Haven

adjetivo/nombre común

Que tiene las características que se consideran propias de las personas jóvenes (energía, vitalidad, vigor, frescura, etc.):un espíritu joven; mantener el cuerpo joven.SINÓNIMO juvenil.

haven |ˈhāvən|

a place of safety or refuge: a haven for wildlife.

And that’s exactly what Conce became for me: I lived the young life and I lived it safely.

Right now, I’m sitting on a bus (as I have been for the last 19 hours), heading towards San Pedro de Atacama and thinking about home. This time home refers to Concepcion, because that’s what it was these last nine months.

Now usually when you think about home, you’re thinking about the people. And I’m thinking about the 50+ exchange students and Chilean classmates that made Conce home this last year. It was so easy to make friends. Concepcion, the second biggest city but still relatively small to its capital, has plenty of universities. I spent half my time walking through la Universidad de Concepcion to reach the bus to take me to my university, Universidad Catolica de la Santisima, Concepcion, which then drove past two other universities, for a total of 25 minutes. That’s four universities almost side-by-side. So imagine how many students live in Concepcion. Many Chileans actually come from smaller towns outside the city, so now imagine how many houses and apartments are occupied solely by students. Yep, Conce is definitely a student town.

With so many students around there’s an abundance of places to party and a thriving nightlife. So after a month or so, you know where to go. The six places I just have to mention are:

1. Plaza Peru

Not necessarily a club, nor perhaps the safest place to be, but I have to mention this place first, because generally this is where it starts. (If people aren’t at a pre-party in their own house.) During the day Plaza Peru is dead, but at night it’s thriving. The Plaza is surrounding by restaurants and many streets branching out of the Plaza have busy bars. I personally never partied in Plaza Peru, as I always had a house to go to, but if you passed by after 8pm, it was packed.

2. LOE (La Otra Esquina)

The one club we overused and abused in my first semester. At the end of the first semester I was actually protesting against going back. But it definitely had its perks. Firstly, extranjeros (foreigners) entered free! (Although this was generally the go with most clubs.) Once in the club there were three floors separating reggeaton music, electronic music and a smokers area up top. Why I didn’t want to go back after visiting the place about 10 times in the first semester, was because it ended up feeling the same each time: same music, same routine once you enter the club, same drink deals etc.

3. Residencia

Lucky for me, this became the go-to place the second semester, which, this time, we didn’t abuse. Residencia had a few special requirements as girls had to be over 21 and boys over 23. But, if you were a foreigner and were on a list, even if you didn’t met the age requirement, you could get in. The party was mostly spread out over one floor, with two separate rooms – one for reggeaton and one for electronic.

4. Diez4

I think this one might be my favourite. This was the place where people from my university, La Católica went, being so close to campus. There was only one dance floor with reggeaton music, but I loved the ample outside space to eat, talk and sit down, to break up the constant dancing. It’s a littler smaller than the others, but cosier and I always got a friendlier and safer vibe from it. I also made it a habit to walk the hour route home after this club, which was straight down the main street of Concepcion.

5. Salsateca

I just had to try a salsa club in Concepcion. I guess I was the main one that pushed for this club, but it was good option, whether we were a large group, a smaller group or just me and someone else. This club had an older crowd in general and had a 5lukas entry fee, but once inside you got a delicious cocktail up to the value of 5lukas and good salsa and bachata music options. If you didn’t want this music you would always head outside where a DJ mixed up a range of pop songs. This place was the most different to all of the others and generally the least crowded. At some point after midnight, the salsa DJ comes out on to the dance floor and gives you a basic solo routine to copy, while he happily looks at himself in the mirror.

6. Oozma Kappa

This one is definitely my favourite. Unfortunately it was only open the second semester and is now permanently closed. I had a love and hate relationship with this party place. Why? Because the second semester this was my house. I loved it because when I was too tired, my bed was right there and I had food whenever I wanted. I hated it because cleaning the next day was a pain. But between the five of us we did get pretty good at it by the end of semester.
A night in Oozma Kappa usually went something like this: Our close friends arrived, we played card games, flip the cup, beer pong, talked. I went in my room to relax a little. About 20 minutes later I leave the room and all of a sudden the house is packed. Half the people I know and half the people are the plus ones of plus ones. But I have to say, by the end of semester I did know everyone that came by and really appreciated how social my house became. Yep, it’s now closed, because we aren’t there anymore, but I’m sure a new house will pop up for the extranjeros of next semester.

Apart from the party, a key word in my title is haven- meaning safety. From the first week of my time in Concepción, we had found our own transfer driver, thanks to a very good Chilean friend of ours. By the end of the year we had developed a range of names for him. His actual name is Don Luis, but my favourite was Don Lukas, which I may have actually called him once on the phone. Lukas in Chile refers to 1000 pesos (roughly $2AU), which is exactly what he charged us every time we needed a taxi to and from the clubs. But he was our go-to man, even at 4:30 in the morning when we were ready to come home.

The day after a big night is equally as important, and to the youth, a Chilean Sunday was known as Fomingo. Fome in Chileno (a word only understood in Chile) meaning boring, while Domingo means Sunday, and together… well you can work out what it means. There’s seriously nothing open on a Sunday. The main reason is Sunday is a day of rest and this means two things in Concepcion:

  1. People are spending valuable time with their family.
  2. The youth are recuperating from a big Saturday night. They’ve probably just gotten to sleep, or maybe downing a bottle of water to nurse a hangover.

So even the city is able to recognise the needs of the youth.

I guess this has turned out to be one of my longer posts, because the energy, the parties and the bustle of the student life offered so much. It became a big part of my home in Concepcion and part of my memory I will never forget.


More people from the Oozma Kappa crew


2 thoughts on “Concepción, a Joven’s Haven

  1. I remember when you came home from UTS and was upset that you did not get a University in the capital city. I was sad for you too. But, then I thought that God had plans for you to be elsewhere and i became happy with that thought. Now, I look back at that sad moment and think it was the best choice for you as you were very happy there and felt ‘at home’. Our plans are not always God’s plans.


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