CET Colombia Study Abroad

CET Colombia: At-A-Glance

Study race, ethnicity, and identity
Spanish language classes
Live with a Colombian roommate
Direct-enroll electives
Traveling Seminar to the Caribbean coast
Out-of-class learning and assignments
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Fall

SPRING

Fall

SPring

CET Colombia study abroad students study race, identity, and ethnicity through the Afro-Colombian lens in Cali—a city with the second largest population of African descent in South America. The program’s curriculum, developed in consultation with Howard University, allows you to examine these dynamics through sociopolitical, economic, artistic, and historical representations of race in Colombia. And with out-of-class learning, local roommates, and direct-enroll classes that put you in a Colombian classroom, you grow your understanding both intellectually and experientially.

Academics in Colombia

Semester
Snapshot

Curriculum & Syllabi

You take one core course, a two-week Spanish intensive, one direct-enroll course, and build the rest of your curriculum according to your Spanish level to meet the total 15 to 18 recommended credits.

You take this two-week intensive Spanish course to help with the adjustment to life in Cali for 3 credits:

  • CA/LANG 101 Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish [Beginner 1]
  • CA/LANG 151 Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish [Beginner 2]
  • CA/LANG 201 Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish [Intermediate 1]
  • CA/LANG 251 Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish [Intermediate 2]
  • CA/LANG 301 Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish [Advanced 1]
  • CA/LANG 351 Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish [Advanced 2]


Note: With approval from the academic coordinator, native Spanish speakers or those with near-native Spanish proficiency will have the option to enroll in an independent study focused on Colombia (e.g. Black Political Subjectivity in Colombia, The Dynamics of Race in Urban and Rural Contexts, Afro-Colombian Students, Youth Activism, and Social Change, etc.).

You take this 3-credit course that is taught exclusively for CET students. This course is initially taught in English, but as your language skills improve, your teachers introduce more Spanish instruction.

CA/SOCI 330 Race and Identities: Debates in the Colombian Context

Beginner-level Spanish speakers take two CET electives (one Spanish elective and one area studies electives taught in English) and one direct-enroll elective (taught in English). Intermediate- and advanced-level Spanish speakers take two to three electives to meet the total 15 to 18 recommended credits.

CET Electives

These 3-credit electives are exclusively for CET students in English or Spanish.

Area Studies
CA/CLTR 340 A Social History of Colombian Coffee
CA/GEOG 310 Environmental Conflicts, Territorialities, and Ethnic Groups in Colombia
CA/SOCI 315 Crime & Justice in Colombia
CA/ANTH 330 The Cultures of Afro Descendants in Colombia (taught in Spanish)
CA/POLI 320 Reclaiming Blackness: Social and Political Movements in Colombia (taught in Spanish)

Semester-long Spanish Language

After completing Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish, beginning level Spanish students enroll in a 3-credit semester-long Spanish elective course. Intermediate and advanced level students can choose to take Spanish as a Foreign Language as one of their Spanish-taught electives. 

  • CA/LANG 150 Spanish as a Foreign Language (Beginner 2)
  • CA/LANG 200 Spanish as a Foreign Language (Intermediate 1)
  • CA/LANG 250 Spanish as a Foreign Language (Intermediate 2)
  • CA/LANG 300 Spanish as a Foreign Language (Advanced 1)
 

Direct-Enroll Electives at UAO & UNIVALLE

These are elective courses taught at the program’s host universities, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente and Universidad del Valle. Classes are 2 to 5 credits each, taught in Spanish (unless otherwise noted), and offer the opportunity to learn alongside Colombian undergraduates and learn as local students do for students. To enroll in Spanish-taught courses at UAO or Univalle, students must have achieved B2 Spanish language proficiency prior to the program start date (or the equivalent on the CET language placement test). Course offerings differ each semester but past courses have included:

Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (UAO):
The Colombian Pacific Region: History and Culture (taught in English)
Identities & Culture 
Cinema, Memory, & Peace 
Social Anthropology of Valle del Cauca 
Music & Cultural Identity in Colombia 
Public Relations (Organizational)

Universidad del Valle (UNIVALLE):
Problems of Contemporary Societies
Social Representations and Ideology
Territory, Culture and Biodiversity

CET converts final grades from the local host universities to US letter grade equivalents.

Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish 

You take this two-week intensive Spanish course to help with the adjustment to life in Cali for 3 credits:

•  Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish


Core Course

You take this 3-credit course that is taught exclusively for CET students. This course is initially taught in English, but as your language skills improve, your teachers introduce more Spanish instruction.

•  CA/SOCI 330 Race and Identities: Debates in the Colombian Context

 
Spanish Language: Semester

After you complete the Pre-Semester Spanish Intensive, you enroll in a semester-long Spanish course for 3 credits. 

•  Spanish as a Foreign Language

 
CET Electives

You take these two 3-credit electives in English:

•  CA/GEOG 310 Environmental Conflicts, Territorialities, and Ethnic Groups in Colombia
•  CA/SOCI 315 Crime & Justice in Colombia

Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish

You take this two-week intensive Spanish course to help with the adjustment to life in Cali for 3 credits. If you are a native or near-native Spanish speaker, you can opt to do a Spanish independent study instead.

•  Pre-Semester Intensive Spanish


Core Course

You take this 3-credit course that is taught exclusively for CET students. This course is initially taught in English, but incorporates more Spanish instruction as your language skills warm up.

 
Electives

Choose two to three additional courses to meet the total 15 to 18 recommended credits. 

Electives at CET
These 3-credit electives are exclusively for CET students in English or Spanish:


Spanish Language: Semester

After you complete the Pre-Semester Spanish Intensive, you can choose to enroll in a 3-credit semester-long Spanish elective course. 

  • •  Spanish as a Foreign Language


Direct-Enroll Electives at UAO & UNIVALLE
These are elective courses taught at the program’s host universities, Universidad Autónoma de Occidente and Universidad del Valle. Classes are 2 to 5 credits each and taught in Spanish. Direct-enroll classes offer the opportunity to learn alongside Colombian undergraduates and learn as local students do. Course offerings differ each semester but past courses have included:

UAO:

  • •  History & Culture of the Colombian Pacific Region
  • •  Identities & Culture 
  • •  Cinema, Memory, & Peace 
  • •  Social Anthropology of Valle del Cauca 
  • •  Music & Cultural Identity in Colombia 
  • •  Public Relations (Organizational) 

 

UNIVALLE:

  • •  Problems of Contemporary Societies
  • •  Social Representations and Ideology
  • •  Territory, Culture and Biodiversity


CET converts final grades from the local host universities to US letter grade equivalents.

Dive Deep in Colombia

Race, Ethnicity, Identity. The program’s home, Cali, is a city that celebrates Blackness as one of its defining features. In your core course, you’ll use the city to examine the sociopolitical, economic, and artistic representations of race in all of Afro-Colombia. 

Improve your Spanish. Start your semester off with a two-week intensive course. Then, depending on your level, take a semester-long language class or Spanish-taught electives. More advanced students can even choose to take classes at UAO or Univalle alongside other Colombian undergraduates.

Proudly Afro-Colombian: A Discussion Series. Highlight Afro-Colombian leaders in this event hosted by CET and Univalle. Step on stage and facilitate public discussions with prominent artists, scientists, or activists and bring attention to their important work.

Traveling Seminar: Comparative Learning

On your Traveling Seminar, concepts from your core course will come to life as you explore the dynamics of race, ethnicity, and identities across Colombia with your cohort.


Day 1
: Travel to San Basilio de Palenque. Meet with community members to discuss local history and culture.
Day 2: Learn about the local justice system from La Guardia Cimarrona. Meet with a doctor of ancestral medicine, and explore traditional (natural) medicines. Then participate in a music workshop that examines the diverse rhythms of the Caribbean coast.
Day 3: Hike to the local farming spot and assist a Palenquero farmer for the day. Then in the evening, eat dinner with Palenquera women and hear them talk about their individual projects in the community, their fight against oppression, and their resilience.
Day 4: Travel to Cartagena. Explore the city and then relax on the beach.
Day 5: Head to La Boquilla, a village outside the city with a large Afro-Colombian population. Hear about the negative effects of rapid-growth tourism for livelihoods dependent upon fishing from locals. Learn about Colombia’s biodiversity and the techniques of traditional fishing. Afterward, help cook a delicious meal with the local community.
Day 6: Meet with local social leaders as you visit neighborhoods populated by those displaced by armed conflict and gentrification. Then engage in an intercultural exchange activity with a local school in the neighborhood that helps empower students to stay off the streets through performance arts.
Day 7: Travel back to Cali.

Housing and Meals

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Living Like a Local

Local Roommates. Want to learn where to find the best manjar blanco (Colombian dulce de leche)? How to navigate the local bus system? Not only does sharing a home with a local roommate give you instant insider’s access to the city, it brings language and local culture out of the classroom and into your home life. Learn more about living with a local roommate. 

Eating in Cali. For meals, take your pick of Cali’s many inexpensive eateries or use your student ID to try the cafeteria, where a full meal costs less than 1 USD for students. Feeling like a home-cooked meal? Grab ingredients at the supermarket and have a night in with your roommates. Learn more about accommodating your dietary needs in Cali. 

CET Colombia study abroad students and Colombian roommates have a picnic in a park

Life in Cali

CET Colombia study abroad students pose in front of giant letters spelling "Cali"

In a city where the influences of diversity are ever-present, your everyday surroundings will inform your studies and Cali’s active calendar of cultural activities will fill your days. Enjoy a cold champú (refreshing local drink) as you relax in town. Spend the weekend at the mountains or on the beach (3 hours by bus!) with your roommate. Go dancing with friends at Calle de la Salsa, a community salsa event at Boulevard del Río. Listen to the storytellers weave a tale atop the hill in the San Antonio neighborhood. 

Experience Cali with CET

Around the city. Each term, the program offers different extra-curricular activities that allow you to explore Cali and Colombian culture. Take a salsa class to try your hand at the national pastime. Spend time in the beautiful Farallones mountains. Explore different neighborhoods around Cali. And there’s even more to see on your own.

A Weekend Away. Let us show you another side of Colombia. Spend the weekend in San Cipriano, a nature reserve two hours outside of Cali. Hike a waterfall. Explore the small town. Meet with locals to discuss how tourism impacts their community. On another weekend, explore Buenaventura—home to the country’s most important port and a large Afro-Colombian population. Listen to local students share stories of their community. Learn about ancestral practices from traditional midwives.

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Student Resources

"Language study at CET Colombia is so rewarding. I started with no Spanish. Now, I am at a level of practical intermediacy. I have made friends and met with professors in Spanish, despite having never taken it before this program."

— Noah Rowan,
Clark University | Spring student
"I chose to come to Colombia because I knew that it was a country that is often misrepresented in the United States and I wanted to push my preconceived narrative wide open. This theme of diving deeper continued throughout all of my classes and conversations once in the country. There is always another side of the narrative and one that is worth being heard."

— Audrey Friedline,
George Washington University | Fall student

READ 13 THINGS AUDREY LEARNED IN COLOMBIA
"Being able to see and talk with local communities, have Afro-Colombian roommates, and have first-hand conversations has really brought my education to a whole new level."

— Vanessa Vigier,
Kalamazoo College | Fall student
"The one thing that I still had to look forward to in Colombia before I went home was the Traveling Seminar to Cartagena and Palenque with the CET program. The whole trip was incredible and I had some of my best days in Colombia and some of the best days of my life during this trip as well."

— Jonah Bolton,
Kalamazoo College | Fall student

READ MORE ABOUT THE TRAVELING SEMINAR
"In the classroom, we learned about the social complexities of identity, the history of Colombia, and the social issues that are currently prevalent. In real life, we were having these same conversations with our peers and witnessing the realities of these play out. I feel like I have been educated about this country and these social issues in the most complete and holistic way and that has made me a more intelligent person and able to connect these experiences back to other parts of the world and my life."

— Audrey Friedman,
George Washington University | Fall student
"My time in Colombia was amazing! I learned so much about Afro-Colombian culture, Colombian history, and society as a whole. This program not only allowed me to learn about new places and cultures but also forced me to be introspective and learn new things about my own identity."

— Amara Payne,
George Washington University | Spring student
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On-site Staff

Mariela

Mariela Palacios
Director of Operations

Beatriz E. Balanta, Ph.D.
Academic Coordinator

Alexia Martin
Resident Coordinator

Armando Zuñiga
Program Assistant

Program Fees

Fall/Spring

$16,490

What's Included

All of your classes and program-related learning are included with your tuition.

We arrange your housing in a fully-furnished apartment about a 10-minute walk from campus. Your program fees go toward rent, utilities, furnishing, and other management costs.
 

We cover your transit, housing, and most meals during your Traveling Seminar to Cartagena and Palenque. Don’t forget to bring a camera and your curiosity. 

The activities and excursions that we arrange are included in your program fee. All you need to do is remember to bring your camera!

From pre-departure to orientation, from on site to re-entry, CET provides you with the support you need every step of the way. 

You’re provided with a comprehensive insurance plan through GeoBlue that even includes medical evacuation coverage.

We guide you step-by-step through the visa process. Most nationalities (including US citizens) can receive a visa exemption on arrival at the airport, and we’ll help you finalize your status on-site to cover the full program dates on-site.

Your textbooks and course supplies are covered and waiting for you on site.

At the end of your term, you’ll receive academic documentation as proof of all you’ve accomplished abroad. Depending on your home institution, you will either get a CET grade report or a School of Record transcript from the University of Minnesota.

 

More on finances

Three students sitting on a railroad cart and smiling for the camera.
Program Fee Breakdown. Of the total program fee, $14,490 goes to tuition and fees, and $2,000 goes to housing and other student life fees.

Local Cost of Living. The cost of living in Colombia is considerably more affordable than that of the US. An average cost of living is estimated at 350 USD/month, though this varies depending on how often students eat at restaurants and/or participate in nightlife.

Estimated out-of-pocket expenses: 

How to Apply

  • •  Pre-requisites: None. Open to students of any Spanish level, but students with more Spanish language experience have more curricular flexibility.
  • •  Must be 18 or older at the time of program participation.
  • •  Open to students from any US college or university
  • •  GPA: 3.0 or higher preferred, but admissions decisions are made on a case-by-case basis;  lower GPAs still encouraged to apply

Complete the application through your online CET account. This is a brief form that asks for basic information and has a few short answer questions about why you want to study abroad.

Upload a scan of your passport to your online CET account. This should be a single scan that includes the signed signature page and the photo/personal details page. Don’t have a passport yet? Let us know and we can help advise you.

Use the link in your online account to send a recommendation request to one of your previous instructors.

This is an online form that your study abroad office completes to let us know you meet the requirements to study abroad. To send the electronic form request,  simply enter the name and email address of your study abroad advisor in the designated fields of your online account.

Your online CET account has specific instructions for submitting an official transcript.

Application
Deadlines

Fall Semester:

April 1

Spring Semester:

November 1

Have a question? Get in touch!

Melanie MacKenzie

Senior Student Services Coordinator
202.846.7662
[email protected]

Price Subject to Change:

CET reserves the right to increase quoted charges at any time without prior notification, based on increased instruction costs, exchange rate fluctuation or other cost increases beyond CET’s control.

Course Availability

Our goal is to offer every single course every term, but sometimes factors like faculty availability and program enrollment keep us from reaching that goal. If you’re concerned about needing to enroll in any one particular course, please contact us! We’ll try our best to get you the course you need.

Learn More about our Programs!