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Verena Stierschneider

My semester at the Universidad Externado in Colombia.
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Anyone who decides to spend half a year living in Colombia is bound to attract some horrified glances. But I would recommend anyone to try it. Colombia is an experience at every level and I have never before been to a country where I was met with such genuine interest and honest friendliness. Of course, Colombia is also tiring: when you are tormented by hours of traffic jams, when you are the only one to turn up on time or when you are standing in an office having to spell out your 14 letter surname to an official for what feels like the 428th time! But it’s hard to be offended by the Colombians and before you know it, you feel calm again. After all, how could it be any other way in a country so full of zest for life, music, gorgeous landscapes and laughter?

It’s not just leisure activities which are in plentiful supply here: the Universidad Externado is one of the best in the country, unaffordable to many Colombians and provides foreign students with a completely new perspective on familiar issues.

I don’t want to infer that prejudices about Colombia are completely untrue. Yes there are drugs and criminality; there is poverty and there are areas of the city it is best to avoid. But at no point during the six months did I feel in danger in any way. As the national tourist office so eloquently puts it: “The only risk is that you will want to stay!”

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