Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Universidad del Rosario
Study programme: Global Health (Master's)
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017
Name: Ana Maria Velez
Email address:



The exchange programme with Rosario University and Karolinska Institutet is a rather recent exchange programme for teachers and students. I am originally from Colombia but have double citizenship, so my high education has always been in European countries. When I saw there was a partnership between KI and Rosario University I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to understand better the education system of my country of origin and at the same time research social and health issues of Colombia. Karolinska Institutet and the International coordinator were very supportive during the application process and the information provided was very easy to understand. Also from Rosario University, the coordinator of Exchange was very helpful.

The Rosario University is one of the most prestigious Universities of Colombia and has an excellent academic body of research. We received emails (all in Spanish) to register into the subjects of study  (including Cátedra rosarista) during the exchange period. This University is located in Bogotá, which is 2640 metres above sea level, so, despite Colombia being a tropical Country, tropical diseases in the capital are rare. However if you are planning to travel around it is recommended to have at least the yellow fever vaccination. For more info about vaccines needed check this link:

Arrival and registration


For the Master programme in Global health we completed the theoretical modules by mid-February, so this was the time to start the thesis process. So most students went to the countries of exchange around this time to meet with the supervisors at the local universities, start data collection (if necessary) and be in the context of the research. The local University offered a pick-up service which I think it is really useful for people who don’t know the country or don’t know anybody in the country. The Cátedra Rosarista mentioned above is done as a compulsory online subject for international students to understand better the country and the history of the university. There is also a student union called IBSA which organises events and gather ups. On arrival to the University you need to report your arrival to the country and bring your original passport to Sede el Claustro to register and have your student ID. This is the most important thing at university as without ID you won’t be able to access the campus. Also it is necessary to have a medical check- up by the University where they assess for any medical conditions and advice you on health and life style.

I also strongly recommend to buy a local SIM card in Colombia (more or less 5000 COP- less than 2USD). Claro, Tigo, Movistar are the most common companies. By Colombian law it is mandatory to register the cell phone with the government, otherwise after a period of more or less a month they block the cell phone and you won’t be able to use it at all any longer. So I would recommend to buy the SIM card in the official sales point of the companies mentioned above, to register the phone you need to bring your passport

The country currency is Colombian Pesos (COP). 1 USD corresponds to approximately 2.900 COP and 8.5 SEK. Transport in Colombia is really cheap. A taxi costs average 10000 COP (bit less than 4 USD) depending on the distance. A taxi from the airport to the centre is approximately 20000-25000 COP. It is always safer to have an application to order taxis (EasyTappsy, or Uber). At the airport look for Taxi Autorizado. Bear in mind that taxis don’t have card readers to pay by card so be suspicious if they ask you to pay by card. 



Colombia is a relatively cheap country for services, like taxis (As mentioned above). Food in supermarkets sometimes may have same as European prices. I recommend for fruits and vegetables to go to local markets. For instance, near La Quinta de Mutis (The other campus of Rosario University), the local Mercado Siete de Agosto offers really good prices for food. Fruits and vegetables are fresh and it is an excellent place to know more about the fruits the country produces and know more about the local people.



The Rosario University does not offer accommodation usually. However there are Airbnb’s for students in University areas. Good areas to live in ar Chapinero, Chicó, Quinta Camacho. There are also exchange student webs where you can register and look for sharing accommodation etc

Studies in general


The Rosario University has excellent lecturers. For the Masters in Public Health the lectures were held on Friday from 5-9 pm and Saturday 7 am (YES)- 13 pm. The lectures are very intense but very rich in content. For the Master in Global health the theoretical modules were not compulsory as all the theoretical credits were achieved during the first semester in Sweden. The classmates are all professionals from different health sector and they were a very proactive class. It was very interesting to understand the Colombian health system, the transitions and the challenges.

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 1 at KI
The main focus is to perform the research project. I met the supervisor in Sweden while she travelled to give us lectures in Stockholm and we discuss about the exchange. She provided me with a quantitative database to analyse the data and perform the research. She supported me during my research and both supervisors (in KI and Rosario) helped me with data analysis.
Courses corresponding to semester 2 at KI
thesis report

Language and Culture

Language and Culture

The official language in Colombia is Spanish. It is not very common that people have good level of English however this has been improving over the years and young people tend to be more confident in English. A Spanish course is made available by The Rosario University. Although the Spanish is the same, the accent vary according to the regions, so you might notice that in certain regions, for instance the north coast, people talk faster and it is a bit more difficult to understand sometimes.

There are significant cultural differences to consider. Despite being Colombian myself I must admit, Colombians are not the best at time management, so this can be very frustrating at some points, especially for official meetings. So I would recommend to always confirm appointments on time with people. Ask them if they will be able to make it and confirm place, date and time so no excuses can be made J  

Colombians are well known by their kindness, so it is always appreciated to hear: “Buenos dias, como está?/ Por favor/ Gracias/ De nada”. 

Leisure time and social activities

Leisure Time

It can be a bit of a shock to move from peaceful Stockholm to hectic Bogotá which has nearly 4 times more population of Stockholm and does not have a metro system, so this can be a bit chaotic in terms of traffic. Despite this Bogotá has many cultural options available and there are various activities offered. My favourite day in Bogota was Sundays when “La Ciclovía” takes place. In this, some of the main streets of the city (like la Carrera Séptima) are entirely closed for traffic and pedestrians, bikers, skaters take over the place to practice sports until midday on Sundays. Also there are recreational activities in the parks, etc.  So it is well worth to spend at least a couple of Sundays in the capital.

It is also worth to know more around the country and the beauty it has to offer. So a trip to the North coast (Cartagena, Santa Marta, Parque Tayrona, La Guajira), to the unique Zona Cafetera (Salento, Manizales) the Pacific, the South, the Amazon, are definitely well worth experience! 



Colombia is going through an important post-conflic transition at the moment. So I think that being able to perform my research during this time allowed me to understand better the reality of the country. Being an exchange student from KI does not only open your mind but open many doors, so this was significant experience that has impact in professional development.