Colombia's diversity will astonish you: modern cities with skyscrapers and nightclubs, gorgeous Caribbean beaches, jungle walks, archaeological ruins, high-mountain trekking, coffee plantations, scuba diving and more. The culture, like the weather, varies by altitude. Experience the essence of Colombia in the mountainous cities of Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, and the smaller cities of the Zona Cafetera. In the heat of the Caribbean coast, life is slower, and the culture more laid-back.



Languages Spoken:

Spanish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher education in Columbia is provided by four types of institutions: technical professional institutions, technological institutions, university institutions and universities. More than 300 universities and institutes enroll a total of 970,000 students; the largest, the National University of Colombia, has more than 45,000 students.

At the university level, the first one to two years are devoted to the study of basic subjects. The total program of study lasts four or five years and leads to a bachillerato universitario, licenciatura or a professional title. A master's degree and the title of Especialista is granted after two more years of study in certain universities. The doctorado, the highest degree, is usually awarded two to three years after the licenciatura, upon submission of a thesis.

Colombia's academic calendar is on the southern hemisphere schedule, with the first semester usually beginning in February and the second semester beginning in July.  

Lecturing is the principal method of instruction in Latin American universities, with one final exam or paper counting as the only grade in the class. Some professors will also give midterm exams or papers. In most Latin American countries, the grading philosophy is that the student starts at zero (has no knowledge of the subject) and needs to work hard to obtain a good grade. Your grade rises as you proves your gain of knowledge throughout the semester. As such, Latin American universities tend to be severe in their grading and a grade of sobresaliente (10 - the highest grade possible in Colombia) is rarely awarded. In most classes, the majority of students will receive either aprobado or muy bueno (from four to six).

Visa and Residency

STUDENT VISA/RESIDENCE PERMIT
If you do not have your passport already, you must obtain it immediately. Your host school may request a copy of your passport by a certain deadline (for visa and admission purposes) and failure to meet this deadline could have serious consequences.

All students going to Colombia must obtain a student visa. While the below is a general list of what is required to obtain the visa, you must check with the consulate in your jurisdiction to verify the process and documents required. Keep in mind that you may be required to travel to the consulate to receive your visa in person.

Basic documents required for student visa:

  • Application forms completed (some consulates will require two copies – check with your consulate for the correct form)
  • Two photographs, passport size, white background, printed in color
  • Two copies of the passport (information pages, used pages and visas granted previously)
  • An acceptance letter from the Colombian school or university that specifies length of the studies (must be notarized in Colombia) – your host institution will send this to you
  • Letter from the Colombian university that specifies that the applicant must attend a minimum of ten hours weekly – your host institution will send this to you
  • A school’s certificate of legal existence issued by a competent authority in Colombia – your host institution will send this to you
  • Proof of sufficient financial resources to cover your expenses while in Colombia
  • Visa fee: check with the consulate in your jurisdiction, as this will vary depending on your home country.

Some of the above documents might need to be notarized locally or be legalized with the Hague Convention "Apostille" (or authenticated by the Colombian consulate abroad).
To find a Designated Competent Authority that can issue an Apostille in your country, visit the Hague Convention website. Scroll down and click on your country to find more information about who to contact in your country or state.

Visit Colombia’s Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores website to review the requirements for obtaining a student visa.

Culture

COMMUNICATIVE STYLE

Colombians like to get close to communicate. They may move their face very close to yours and poke your arm to emphasize a point. The volume in conversation may be higher than you would expect in a North American or European culture.

Be aware that there are significant conversational differences between people from the more tropical and beachfront cities of Colombia and people from cities in higher altitudes. In cities at higher altitudes, people value tradition and formality. Serious faces, direct and sustained eye contact and the use of "usted" highlight feelings of respect between communicators. In the tropical and beachfront cities, the use of "" expresses friendliness while voice inflection reveals more emotion than that of highlanders. 

GREETINGS

In Colombia, men great each other with a hand shake and direct eye contact. While shaking hands, they use the appropriate greeting for the time of day: "buenos dias" (good day), "buenas tardes" (good afternoon) or "buenas noches" (good evening). Women often grasp forearms rather than shaking hands. Once a friendship has developed, greetings become warmer and a lot more hands on - men will embrace and pat each other on the shoulder (known as an "abrazo") and women kiss once on the right cheek.

You’ll be asked all about your home country and your family. Colombians value family a lot so they’re genuinely interested in yours.

FOOD

Colombians typically eat three meals a day: a light breakfast, a large lunch between 12-2 p.m,, and a light dinner. Colombian coffee is well known for its high standards in taste compared to others.

Colombian cuisine varies among its many distinct regions. In Bogotá and the Andean region, ajiaco is a traditional dish. It is a soup made of chicken, corn, many different types of potatoes, avocado and guascas, a local herb. Ajiaco is served with white rice, salad with a hint of lemon, avocado, or sweet or salty tostadas. For breakfast, people in Bogotá often eat changua, a milk, scallion and egg soup.

Colombia is also home to numerous tropical fruits endemic to the country and rarely found elsewhere. There are several varieties of bananas including a very small, sweet version. Others include zapote, nispero, lulo, uchuva, passion fruit, borojó, curuba, mamoncillo, guanábana, guava, mango, apple, pear, blackberry, strawberry and many others. Fruit and juice stands are found all over the place, particularly on the Caribbean coast.

FAMILY

The family in Colombia forms the most important unit of Colombian society. Colombians have a large circle of relatives, who are extended through 'compadrazgo.' Relationships are generally strong in the family life of Colombia.

Daily Life

COMMUNICATIVE STYLE

Colombians like to get close to communicate. They may move their face very close to yours and poke your arm to emphasize a point. The volume in conversation may be higher than you would expect in a North American or European culture.

Be aware that there are significant conversational differences between people from the more tropical and beachfront cities of Colombia and people from cities in higher altitudes. In cities at higher altitudes, people value tradition and formality. Serious faces, direct and sustained eye contact and the use of "usted" highlight feelings of respect between communicators. In the tropical and beachfront cities, the use of "" expresses friendliness while voice inflection reveals more emotion than that of highlanders. 

GREETINGS

In Colombia, men great each other with a hand shake and direct eye contact. While shaking hands, they use the appropriate greeting for the time of day: "buenos dias" (good day), "buenas tardes" (good afternoon) or "buenas noches" (good evening). Women often grasp forearms rather than shaking hands. Once a friendship has developed, greetings become warmer and a lot more hands on - men will embrace and pat each other on the shoulder (known as an "abrazo") and women kiss once on the right cheek.

You’ll be asked all about your home country and your family. Colombians value family a lot so they’re genuinely interested in yours.

FOOD

Colombians typically eat three meals a day: a light breakfast, a large lunch between 12-2 p.m,, and a light dinner. Colombian coffee is well known for its high standards in taste compared to others.

Colombian cuisine varies among its many distinct regions. In Bogotá and the Andean region, ajiaco is a traditional dish. It is a soup made of chicken, corn, many different types of potatoes, avocado and guascas, a local herb. Ajiaco is served with white rice, salad with a hint of lemon, avocado, or sweet or salty tostadas. For breakfast, people in Bogotá often eat changua, a milk, scallion and egg soup.

Colombia is also home to numerous tropical fruits endemic to the country and rarely found elsewhere. There are several varieties of bananas including a very small, sweet version. Others include zapote, nispero, lulo, uchuva, passion fruit, borojó, curuba, mamoncillo, guanábana, guava, mango, apple, pear, blackberry, strawberry and many others. Fruit and juice stands are found all over the place, particularly on the Caribbean coast.

FAMILY

The family in Colombia forms the most important unit of Colombian society. Colombians have a large circle of relatives, who are extended through 'compadrazgo.' Relationships are generally strong in the family life of Colombia.

Health and Safety

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/colombia-travel-warning.html

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

Currency

The currency in Colombia is the peso and it is issued in notes of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000 and 50000. Coins issued are 50, 100, 200 and 500 pesos.


Compare your currency to the Colombian peso.

While credit cards are not as common throughout the country as might be in other countries, they are growing in use. Credit cards will normally be accepted in hotels, shopping malls and other establishments in large cities. Be sure to travel with cash if you are going to smaller towns. The most common cards are Visa and MasterCard. Be aware of your ATM or credit card company’s policy for use in a foreign country as they might charge an extra fee for charges or withdrawals made in foreign currency. Also, if you are going to use your credit or debit card, be sure to inform your local bank before leaving in order to not be locked out of your account. Almost all major banks in Colombia will have an ATM which will accept cards issued from banks outside Colombia.

Banks are usually open from Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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