I am currently completing the final semester of my Masters Degree; Masters of Arts in International Studies, at the University of Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. After having completed my bachelors at Sydney University, I then decided to continue my education at the University of Technology. As part of this degree and in country study, I am required to complete a research thesis on a topic of my choice, however relative to my host country.
At this stage, my research concerns urban renewal and the transformation of public space in Bogotá, and its effect on citizenship culture. I am really enjoying researching and writing about this topic because it is so pertinent to Bogotá’s current political and social climate, additional to how the city itself is developing and the progress that has already been made. It’s interesting to look at the policies that have been put in place and why public space is such a focal aspect. Perhaps you are familiar with politicians Enrique Penalosa and Antanas Mockus. Two influential politicians in the transformation of public space and the creation of citizenship culture.
In addition to my research piece, I attend classes at the university – all in Spanish!
The standard of education here is very high and is considered very important. The university has some of the best facilities, with security everywhere, and is situated in close proximity to the very beautiful Monserrate. There is no college system in place here, really at any of the universities, so finding accommodation and if desired, people to live with, was self arranged. The exchange program this year was huge, with about 76 students from all types of countries; America, France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Chile, the list goes on.
Despite everyone’s ability to speak English and show off their skills, the Spanish is going well. I understand and can write very well, however my speech is still developing, but has improved drastically. It’s good when I am with my local friends because they force me to speak it!
The people here are wonderful and the culture is amazing. The diversity is something else!
I have travelled to a few places in Colombia, and they are all very distinct. You experience difference in each city.
At this stage I am seriously considering staying indefinitely. I believe that Bogotá has so much to offer in terms of work opportunities and the fact that it is so central to other countries. Colombia, and for that matter South America is a rapidly developing country/continent, which solidifies why I think the English speaking world really needs to establish good relations with them. Given the current context, there is no better time than now!