Tips on preparing for exchange in Colombia


Obviously this is personal, but here are some common prices of everyday items. (I’ve put it in pesos so you can do your own conversions, it changed so much even during my time that my rent dropped by a $100Aus within the first month!)

Rent at Residencial 10 – 650,000 – 750,000
Rent at private apartment – ~500,000 upwards
Breakfast at a cafe – 5,000
Dinner at a Colombian restaurant – 6,000
Dinner at a fancy int’l restaurant – 20,000

In my experience it was often cheaper to eat out than to cook at home!

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Playa Blanca, Islas del Rosario, off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia


Colombia doesn’t have a great reputation. If you’ve watched the HBO series Narcos recently, you need to wipe any ideas of Colombia out of your head – they’re way off. That picture of Colombia is 30 years outdated. The reality is that I knew of less friends getting robbed in Bogota than in London when I was there a few years ago for my first exchange, and I never heard of any violence. It always comes down to luck of course, and this is no guarantee that nothing will happen to you, but in my opinion, you shouldn’t be any more worried about safety in Bogota than in any other big city. Use some common sense. Don’t walk home alone at 3 am. The people you move in with will quickly tell you where the red light district is and where else to avoid at night. Taxis are unbelievably cheap and safe – use them! Relax, be aware of your surroundings and your belongings, and 6 months later you’ll be laughing at your parents’ reservations like I am now.

Advice for Female Students

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Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

I was a little apprehensive about male culture towards women in Colombia, but I was totally wrong about this one as well. There is a huge difference between costeños (people that live along the Caribbean coast) and cachacos (people who live in and around Bogota). The former have all the warmth and (depending on your taste) at times overbearing “passion” that Colombians are famous for. Everyone flirts with everyone else in the Caribbean – even somewhat homophobic guys will flirt with other guys – it’s just the way people interact (this is how it was explained to me by a costeño amigo). Cachacos, on the other hand, are much more reserved. They have larger personal bubbles and you might say are a little more European in some ways. If you’re tall and blond you’ll still get a comment on the street here and there, but nothing more than you already do in Brisbane. In clubs, guys are very respectful and pretty quickly take a hint if you’re not interested.

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