A love (more love than hate) hate relationship with Colombia Past Review

By (Arizona State University) - abroad from 07/17/2016 to 11/29/2016 with

ISA Study Abroad in Barranquilla, Colombia

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes are pretty much a joke if you take them in english. I took some classes in spanish which were super hard because I was the only foreigner.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The ISA staff is great, the Uninorte staff is alright.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a great homestay experience, but live in an apartment. Email uninorte foreigners office (oficina de extranjeros) and they can give you some ideas of where to live, or just come and stay in a hostel. A lot of the other students do that, and from there it's super easy to find in country.

* Food:

Colombia's food is alright. Don't expect to be marveled by amazing cuisine.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Very. Barranquilla is NOT an international city, you'll be stared at in the streets. This forces you to assimilate. I rode the public bus to school each day, my friends at the University (who were wealthy locals) were terrified of the bus, stuff like that.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The school has a doctors office on campus where you can go for free. If that office can't deal with your issue, they'll send you to the hospital. Everything is super cheap. ISA staff will always accompany if you wish to translate (no one spoke english).

* Safety:

You need to keep your shit together. It's a city in latin american that doesn't see a lot of foreigners, you need to be careful. Don't walk around at night really ever, always take taxis.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I had an incredible experience, this was the most cultural experience I've had in my life.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Anything that can be produced locally and most services (food, bus fares, movies, and housing), foreign stuff (alcohol for the most part and any foreign brand) prepare to pay 1.5x the price.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Food was included in my program, so $25-30 usd


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

You would be in a tough spot without a base knowledge of Spanish. People on the program all had varying levels, but this is a program for students with an intermediate Spanish level looking to become advanced.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? It's super easy to make Colombian friends, they'll flock to you. Hang out with them, and talk. You'll be surprised by how many students at the University have a pretty decent level of english, but don't let that deter you from speaking Spanish- they'll be happy to help.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The host university
  • the Colombian people
  • It was easy to travel
* What could be improved?
  • The city
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known that there isn't much to do in Barranquilla. The city is pretty boring. That being said, the Colombian's are so friendly, you'll make a 1000 friends and you can hang out with them a lot. Don't live in a homestay.