Welcome to Cali
At CET, our goal is to make study abroad accessible for all. We believe that learning happens best when your class reflects the world around us—complex and diverse. So we work hard to create and maintain programs that support students of all races, religions, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. No matter where you are coming from, we want you to have a successful study abroad experience.
CET makes every effort to offer accommodations comparable to those of your home institution. Disclosing early helps us to make proper preparations and work with you to determine if a program will be a good fit. We recommend that you use the following details to inform your decisions and conversations with your Student Services Coordinator.
Race & Ethnicity
Though Cali has the largest black population in Colombia, the city is still in the process of improving political representation and inclusion of black and indigenous peoples. Anti-discrimination laws (Law 1482) have been in place since 2011 to grant legal protection to individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, religion, political ideology, or ethnic and cultural origin. There are some local community groups that students can reach out to, and on-site staff can provide more details upon request.
Cali is considered to be one of the most liberal cities in Colombia. Legally, discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is prohibited by Law 1482, but that does not mean that there are no issues of discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. Universidad del Valle, one of the program’s host universities, is a progressive and inclusive institution with community groups, research teams, and organizations that focus on LGBTQ issues.
There have been issues of discrimination towards those outside the gender binary. However, discussions around gender and gender nonconformity are slowly increasing, and there are various organizations and support groups that are advocating for the rights of gender diverse individuals throughout Colombia.
There are no in-country attitudes towards certain religions and discrimination on the basis of religion is prohibited by federal law. Religious students can expect to practice their faiths while abroad in Colombia, and can be given excused absences for religious holidays with advanced notice to on-site staff.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Colombia is considerably more affordable than that of the US, and on par with neighboring countries. 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. A one-way bus ride is 0.67 USD and a 25-minute cab ride is approximately 5 to 7 USD. Past students have mentioned that establishing and adhering to a budget at the beginning of the term was a strategy that helped manage any financial stress. Check out our budget sheet to get an idea of what life in Colombia might look like financially.
ACCESS in ACADEMICS
Students can expect to attend classes for 3 to 6 hours a day, with typical class sizes ranging between 7 to 20.
Services available for students with documented need: Low-distraction test environment; extra time on exams; modified deadlines and seating; audio recordings of lectures; syllabi/readings/assignments in advance; a computer to take exams; mobility orientation to campus.
Classes are held at either of the program’s host universities: Universidad del Valle (UniValle) and Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (UAO). Both universities are wheelchair accessible.
CET occasionally plans mandatory academic activities and optional trips to nearby sites and other cities after class and on weekends. Excursions may involve urban walking, rural hiking, use of public transportation, and/or going up and down stairs.
Itinerary modifications and accommodations can be made for students with documented need. Transportation can be arranged as necessary, and excused absences are provided for mandatory excursions that are inaccessible due to a disability.
ACCESS IN HOUSING
Your Home Abroad
Apartments are located in a residential neighborhood within a 5-minute walk of the CET Center, where on-site staff have offices. Depending on whether classes are held at UniValle or UAO that day, students will commute either by foot or by bus. Housing can be made wheelchair accessible if requested far in advance.
Apartment configurations vary but can include mix-gender and same-gender setups. Rooms are typically shared, but a single room in a shared apartment, may be available for students with documented need if requested in advance.
Cali has sidewalks, curb cuts, ramps, and elevators/escalators for public transportation. Traffic lights are also accessibly equipped.
Health & Diet
Health & Medicine
During orientation, on-site staff provide students with basic information and recommendations for seeing a doctor and buying medicine. There are some prescription medications that are not accessible in Colombia—students should do their research beforehand and ensure they bring their prescription and the necessary amount if in-country refills won’t be possible.
Keeping Fit in Cali
Students have free access to university sports and dance clubs. At the apartment complex, students can use the soccer and basketball courts for free.
Managing Mental Health
There are counseling services at Universidad del Valle, as well as private counseling centers in the city where students can seek mental health services.
Vegetarian and vegan students can find suitable options around town. Students who have special dietary needs may have fewer options when eating out, but have access to a large variety of fresh produce and a kitchen equipped for cooking meals at their apartments.
Resources from Alumni
This is a curated list of blog posts chosen specifically to provide context for life abroad in China. Posts here may cover culture shock, diversity, daily life and workload, etc. To see all posts from students in Colombia, head to the Student Voices blog.
- Black Girl Abroad: How I Learned to Relinquish my Hold on Forced Identity
By Regine Miller, Howard University | CET Colombia, Spring 2020
- 13 Things I Learned from 6 Months in Colombia
By Audrey Friedline, The George Washington University | CET Colombia, Fall 2019
These are alumni-written essays that reflect upon how their own identity affected their time abroad (both good and bad) and what it was like to navigate another culture in their position. We encourage you to read these to better understand what studying abroad in Colombia could be like for you or your future peers.
- There are no Perspective Pieces for CET Colombia yet. Interested in writing about your experience in Cali? Tell us about your time abroad.
In final evaluations, we ask students how their identities affected their experience abroad. The following are a few select quotes from recent program evaluations to help you understand what life in Colombia may be like for you or your future peers.
TALK TO ALUMNI
Chat with alumni about their experiences abroad. Once you start an application, your online CET account will give you access to the following resources:
- Alumni Support List: A directory of students who have volunteered to chat about their experiences abroad in Cali.
- Identity Abroad Support Network: A group of students who have volunteered to discuss their identity-related experiences in Colombia. This is a volunteer-based program that started in 2019. Volunteers can also opt to have their contact information kept privately by CET staff and only shared when certain lived experiences are asked about.
Don’t see anyone listed for the Identity Abroad Support Network? Call CET for more information and resources. Consider joining after your program to support other minority students abroad.