Rosemarie's Semester in Columbia

Semester abroad in Medellin at the EAFIT Universidad

My semester abroad in Medellin was a very good and remarkable experience, which I can recommend to anyone. In Medellín, I studied International Business, which gave me different input compared to the cruise tourism focus in Germany. It was interesting to get a broader view of the wider economy, especially because everything is less focused on Europe and more on the US, so some other approaches also occurred and have been discussed.

The campus in Medellín is located in the southern part of the city in the Poblado district, which is one of the richer and safer neighborhoods, but also heavily populated by foreigners. You cannot feel the Colombian life so much, but many students still like to live in Poblado, because there are many European amenities. It is not possible to live on the campus directly, but otherwise you will find everything you need for life there. For example, the university library, which offers specialist literature and comfortable workspaces for single use or group use, as well as recreational literature and a large selection of films. In addition, there are many cafes and restaurants, but unfortunately without student-friendly prices, since everything is provided by external companies and there is no refectory of the university itself. Furthermore, there is a gym, many different sports fields and a swimming pool, which you can use by reservation. In addition, there are often movie screenings in the campus's internal cinema, a supermarket, copy shops, stationery shops, souvenir and clothing stores, as well as a hospital for small issues, which is free for university members. The campus is already a small town with many green areas, so you can always find a shady spot under a tree to study or relax. With 40 buildings, the campus is huge, therefore you should not leave the house without the campus plan in the first weeks.

For studying, Spanish is not necessary, as many people speak English, however, as soon as being outside of the campus, it is very hard without speaking a word in Spanish. Colombians are very welcoming, but when it comes to language, very few speak English. However, they help you as much as possible to overcome language barriers. I quickly got used to the language, although I must admit that the pronunciation in Antioquia is very clear compared to other parts of Colombia. For exchange students there was a free language course from the university, which is really good, and it quickly animates someone to speak.

Getting to know many cultures in a very short time is probably the most important experience that I could receive during my semester abroad. The way of life in Colombia is of course very different. The department of Antioquia, of which Medellin is the capital, is known in Colombia as a very industrious and enterprising area. At the university and in the city, everyday life starts early at 6am and ends late, the first lecture block starts at 6am and the last one ends at 9pm, in addition, each block goes 3h. The diligence can be felt everywhere but at the end of the day once the work is done, the joie de vivre and warmth of the people who enjoy life can be seen at every corner. So, it is not uncommon to sit in a bar after work together with colleagues, listening to music and start dancing salsa on the floor or on the street, even in a suit. The country itself is very diverse. If you come to the coast, you immediately think you are in another country, both the food and dialect, music and behavior deviate very much from the regions in the center of the country.

The city of Medellín was perfect for me, the climate is pleasantly warm all year round, but not oppressive as on the coast, only in the rainy season it is very wet, but also not before afternoon, so you can still enjoy the sun in the morning. In addition, the city is in my opinion located in the most beautiful department. There are many small beautiful mountain villages, which you can visit on free weekends, amazing nature and offers a lot for outdoor junkies, like hikes and mountain bike trails.