Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Universidad del Rosario
Study programme: Global Health (Master's)
Exchange programme: Linnaeus-Palme
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017
Name: Louise Hellberg
Email address:


When I started studying in August I already knew I wanted to do an exchange. One of the reasons why I chose Global Health was the program´s international approach and I felt it would be interesting to write my thesis abroad. I though going abroad while studying would be a good chance to get to know a new country and I found that idea exciting.

The exchange program I applied for was only for people with Swedish residency and the application was due shortly after the start of our semester. This unfortunately meant that many couldn´t apply because of foreign residency, or because of not having the time to fill in the application form. I was lucky to have Swedish residency and because of my early interest I applied in time. The semester I applied I could choose between Colombia or Uganda. I was interested in going to an Latin American country, I had some knowledge of Spanish from before and Colombia seemed like the perfect option.

The contact with the university in Colombia was poor before arrival and in the beginning this worried me a lot. With some convincing and support from my friends and from the wonderful international student coordinator at KI I decided to go through with my application and go even though I felt worried about the almost non existing contact with the university in Colombia. That decision, to apply and then go to Colombia, is a decision I am very happy for today. 

Arrival and registration

When I arrived to Bogotá the semester had already started and I came when the introduction courses had passed. I did however have a meeting together with the international coordinator at my exchange university, received my student entrance card and was shown around in the main building. The information I had found so poor before arrival completely changes when I got to Bogotá and I felt I was in safe hands. The Colombian welcoming was hearty and warm and I immediately felt the wonderful Colombian hospitality from my university colleagues.

Additionally, at arrival I was offered Spanish courses and via these Spanish classes I had the opportunity to meet other international students. This was a nice way to get to know people in a similar situation as the one I was in, as well as a good opportunity to improve my Spanish.


Colombia is cheaper than Sweden when it comes to most things, such as transport, restaurants and services. However, living is almost the same as in Stockholm and most super markets have similar prices. Life in Bogotá does not require the same mensual budget as one in Stockholm but as a foreigner you are tempted to do weekend trips, visit museums and restaurants and I highly recommend to take that in account when planning your budget.

I was lucky to have the support from Linnaeus Palme foundation and because of this I felt relaxed about my finances during my stay in Colombia.


I lived in a neighbourhood called Chapinero in Bogota. It is a lively neighbourhood with lots of Colombian students, cafes and bars. I enjoyed living in an area like this, and I was able to walk to and from university during daytime. I arranged my living independently and was not offered housing from the university.

I rented a room in a shared apartment through a famous rental cite online called Airbnb. The apartment was very basic and dirty from the beginning but I lived with two wonderful flatmates who made my experience in Bogota even richer and the dirt unimportant.

Bogota used to be a dangerous city with a bad reputation, this is however changing and today Bogota is a city which offers a diversity and warmth I have rarely experienced before. It is still not safe to be out by yourself at night in most areas but taxis are very cheep, easy to get hold of and safe.

Studies in general

The university in Bogota held classes of good quality. Most of the classes were held in Spanish and I had days were I found this challenging, however I am very pleased with the classes I attended in general. The teachers felt passionate about their topics and the student/teacher relationship was usually friendly.

My main focus was to write my thesis and I was not obliged to attend any of the university classes. However, as earlier mentioned I enjoyed the classes and went for many of them anyways.

The university has three facilities, in which I had classes in two of them, one located in the city center and one located in the north/east. The facilities held high quality with good areas to study and classrooms offering good comfort. There was a lot of security both when entering and exciting the university and you could only enter with proof of being associated with the university. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 2 at KI
The classes I took during my stay in Bogotá covered the same topics as the classes I had already taken at KI. I went to them because I found them interesting and because the teachers were very good but non of the classes were obligatory.

Language and Culture

The Colombian hospitality is a pure delight and people are in general very happy to help you when you are lost or need assistance. If the first person you ask for the way doesn´t know, this person is likely to ask the next passing by and so it continues until you have a group of 5 people helping you to find your way. Bogotá is in many ways a city in hurry with cars and people hurrying in all directions all the time, but when you need help people still seem to find time enough to stop and listen to your quiestion in broken Spanish.

In Colombia Spanish is the most commonly spoken language, there are however about 65 indigenous languages spoken as well. The Spanish in Bogota is very nice when you are learning the language because it is slow and most of the worlds are well pronounced. I feel that people on the street were happy to help you whenever you struggled to find the right words and seemed happy to explain again, and sometimes again, when I didn´t understand.

To improve my Spanish I took classes three days a week during one month in the beginning of my stay in Bogotá. These classes were offered by the university for about 300 Euros. This was very helpful and the teaching was of very good quality. 

Leisure time and social activities

The colombians I met during my exchange was in general open minded and warm, I quickly made friends with my classmates at university and my flatmates.

The University offered some activities through an international student organization. I did not participate in any of their activities but the impression I got from the organization was nice. 

In the university there is a gym, football field, playstation and board games. All these activities are available for all students who study in the University.

I did try to be very efficient with my time in Colombia. I studied long, hard days during the weekdays and then took weekends off to travel in this amazing country. Colombia is rich in culture and diversity and offers mountains, coast, beach, jungle and urban metropols. Writing a tesis is time consuming but if you are efficient you are able to explore the country were you do your exchange as well.


I am happy I had the opportunity to go to Colombia and Bogotá. Writing this thesis have sometimes felt challenging but I wouldn´t have wanted to write it anywhere else.

Professionally I feel this experience helped me to widen my perspectives on health and research. Every context has it´s own opportunities and to get to know the Colombian context a little better has been very interesting. 

Personally I have had the pleasure of getting to know new friends, tasting wonderful coffee and drink it with a straw, enjoy rain and sunshine almost every day and challenge myself to travel by myself.

Finally, this exchange to Colombia felt almost impossible from the beginning, it felt like three months was too long, Colombia felt intimidating and I felt unsure about the University. What it turned out to be was something completely different, the three months passed by to quickly and I got a new unforgettable experience to put in my personal backpack.