Overview of Colombia
Colombia is a country with many universities and each one of them has its own policy regarding accommodation. If your host university offers support regarding finding a place to stay, or if it offers dormitory options, we highly recommend to stick to them.
If the host university can’t give you support regarding this matter, you can find a place while in your home country by searching online. Sites such as Airbnb can help you finding a nice place for a while. Another nice way is to check the SNS groups created by the students of your host university. They also have to find accommodation by themselves, and sometimes there is one room for a new student.
Of course, you can also live by yourself, but it can be very bureaucratic and complicated to sign a contract by yourself.
■ Transportation system
You will most use buses to travel around the cities. Taxis are also very cheap and can be more comfortable than buses. There is only one metro line, in the city of Medellin. Traffic is quite chaotic, so we don’t recommend you to drive.
To travel to other states, it’s a good idea to go by bus if the trip takes less than 5 hours. In other cases, consider traveling by plane. Avianca is the largest Colombian airline and it is also present in other countries in Latin America.
For shopping, you will have two basic options: going to commercial streets or going to a shopping malls. Commercial streets are where the people are. It is cheap and not very comfortable (especially in summer), but you can bargain and take home goods for a nice price. Also, you can find textiles and accessories made by Colombian hands. In Bogota, Each neighborhood has at least one commercial street, and going to the many of them can be a nice way to start exploring the city.
Shopping malls are air-conditioned fresh, but many things being sold there are imported or from international brands.
Colombian cuisine is very rich and different even for the ones who live in South America. For breakfast, each region will have its own dishes, but it is common to have local bread with scrambled eggs.
Main dishes are chicken soups or fish soups if you are in the coast, roasted meat (chicken, pork), blood sausage, rice, avocado, potatoes…
You can find fast food chains such as Mc Donald’s, Subway and T.G.I.F, but there are also Colombian-made chains which you must try.
Juices are natural and served at home and in restaurants. For deserts, expect everything to be VERY sweet. For instance, one famous dessert is the tres leches cake: a sponge cake soaked in milk, covered with whipped cream and condensed milk.
Of course, expect a lot of coffee. And don’t be surprised if you find pieces of cheese in your hot chocolate.
As many other South American cultures, the culture in Colombia is a mix of the native population with the Spanish culture. 95% of the population is Catholic and many people still respect a lot the religion.
You might think that because of the religion people will be a lot conservative, but this is the country where people dance to salsa and reggaeton, so don’t expect people to be so shy.
In the field of the arts, Colombia is very rich. To name a few names you might have heard before, the Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the visual artist Fernando Botero and international famous pop singer Shakira are Colombian.