On a budget? Want to travel a lot though? COLOMBIA. Past Review

By (University of the Incarnate Word) - abroad from 07/25/2016 to 11/25/2016 with

Universidad Autónoma de Occidente: Cali - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was worthwhile. I made lifelong friends from Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Argentina... and one from New York.lol my graduation date was postponed a semester because most of the courses won't work towards my degree but I don't regret it at all. I would definitely go again.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Universidad Autonoma de Occidente in Santiago de Cali, Colombia. The university is small and super easy to get around. There is a lot of administration and always helpful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

There is is over 10 gated apartment complex communities surrounding the university. They are very secure and clean. I personally rented out a furnished room for just a little over $100.00 USD a month with wifi, cable, private bathroom and room, access to everything in the kitchen and living room as well as the washing machine in the apartment. Depending whether one chooses to rent a furnished room or decide to room with other international friends, it's fairly cheap for U.S. students compared to prices in the U.S. Also, the study abroad office takes care of finding you a place to stay if you can't find one on your own or simply just want their list of trusted (mainly UAO professors) individuals who rent out a room of their home.

* Food:

there's a vast variety of food. food in Cali is DELICIOUS. it's cheap. I would eat a full lunch (meat, rice, salad, soup, drink) for 6,000 COL Pesos which is approximately an equivalent to $2.15 USD.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

People from Cali (Caleños/Caleñas) and Medellín (Paisas) are the most social, loving people you will meet. You will feel taken care of. Taking public transportation and walking, it really helps you live interact with people. People there are very into social gatherings so you always have things to do from traveling to going out at night (use uber! it's cheaper than taxis)

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

i didn't get sick at all during my exchange. But i had to get my blood drawn to get my Colombian "Cedula" so I went to a hospital. very clean, professional.

* Safety:

You do need to take precaution in every country. No phones in the street. Watch your surroundings. Don't stop for suspicious people. i felt completely safe but i was also cautious.

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

The university (Universidad Autonoma De Occidente) provides international students, and first semester students that come from outside of Cali, a program called "Plan Padrinos" where they get to meet the rest of the internationals. each member is assign a Padrino (like a big brother or sister) by the end of the semester you form a bond with your padrino and the other members in your group. it's beautiful. Plan Padrinos hosts events and go on trips completely paid for by the university. the university is BIG on extracurricular activities. every semester they provide classes free of charge for everyone on campus. from Karate and Taekwondo, violin classes, chess, Salsa dancing, Tennis, Soccer, Guitar, Swimming, Nature walks on the weekends, Hip hop, Arab dancing, mural painting, yoga. and much more. They held events around campus a lot of times. there are no classes from 12-2 and they close the offices every day at that time so everyone has enough time to eat as a community.


* 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)

you don't need to buy clothing. it's always hot and casual clothes is mainly what you'll wear. if you do, clothes are cheap unless you go to the mall and expect to pay some known brand clothing like Nike, Colombia, Adidas, etc. food is cheap.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? about 50 USD with eating out mostly all the time. it would be way cheaper to cook food at home but i don't cook. it was still very reasonable.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Invest in a rice cooker and make that with meat. eat out no more than once a day and save the rest to Travel. Travel is cheap but either way the money you save from eating out can go towards souvenirs or bus tickets.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local 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 importance of community
  • Loving, helpful people
  • Cheap everything (except brand products)
* What could be improved?
  • I truly had no problems
  • I truly had no problems
  • I truly had no problems
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Pick your classes ahead of time. try getting courses Tuesday through Thursday once a week. they'll be about 3 hours long but you have a 4 day weekend that you can use to Travel every week. Make a list of where you want to go and what you want to see. after that you can always ask locals and they really know much about all of Colombia and how to get around. I should have done that.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.