For students at SLU it is possible to go abroad for an exchange to different universities around the world. To my surprise, SLU has an agreement* with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ)- my home university in Bogotá, Colombia. Therefore, I though it would be useful for some people to write about it here.
*The agreement includes an stipend of 650 euros/month for no more than 12 months, requires B2 Spanish level annd is open to all SLU students.
Higher education in Colombia
Colombian Education system works differently than in Sweden. Public universities are big, but difficult to get in because of the huge demand and few places available. Hence, most people studies in private universities paying for tuition fees with their own resources (mainly), or study loans or scholarships. These universities are mainly located in the bigger cities; namely Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Barranquilla (all + 2M people). There are very limited courses taught in English, and these are meant for Colombian students willing to learn the language. Otherwise, tuition is in Spanish- reason why B2 level is a must.
Just so you know Bogotá is not warm and tropical. It is situated 2600 m AMSL with an average temperature of 15°C. Nonetheless some days it can be sunny and 23°C, or be rainy and 14°C. It is unpredictable and that part of its charm (you might like to read Three similarities between Sweden and Colombia). It has 8M gently warm-hearted inhabitants, beautiful mountains on the east and a vibrant cultural scene and nightlife. Yes, as many Latin American big cities it has a considerable high crime rate, but during the last few years it has been decreasing significantly. Oh, traffic and public transport are terrible, be aware of it.
Indeed, the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana is a one of the biggest and more prestigious private universities in Bogotá. It was founded my the Jesuits in 1623 and it is still ruled by them. The University proclaims itself catholic, but students from different religions, beliefs and cultural backgrounds are welcomed and respected. It is located in the city centre and has about 30.000 students coming from different regions, who study 188 programs organized in 18 schools, all in the same campus. Programs taught include a wide range of subjects, from scenic arts to medicine. Precisely, I enjoyed the very much meeting students from different programs during my studies because they broadened my view on political, artistic and scientific issues.
For SLU students there are interesting courses taught in Spanish such as Colombian Ecosystems, Colombian Flora, Social and Political Ecology, Socioeconomy of Rural Landscapes, Agroecology, Threes and City, among many others. Additionally, more interesting courses can be found at the departments of Ecology and Territory, Rural and Regional Development, Biology, Microbiology, Nutrition and Biochemistry, Architecture, Sociology and Anthropology. Often there are excursion within courses to other regions of Colombia and students get usually involved in volunteering programs, ans these are of course open to exchange students too (take a look to both videos below).
PUJ has implemented what they call medio universitario, which basically aims to create a proper environment inside the campus to make it feel as a second home for students. This includes free access to a gym, student groups, concerts and many more activities.Student life is vibrant as Bogotá. Since some more big universities are located nearby PUJ, it makes Bogotá’s city centre a hub for culture, knowledge and of course partying. Some even dare to say that Bogotá is the Athens of South America due to the high number of Universities located there. Living expenses are not cheap though, but 650 euros is more than enough I would say.
Some useful links:
I am willing to answer any further question, so do not hesitate to ask or comment below!