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Master Karolína Malá, UCT Prague, ročník 5

Faculty Faculty of Environmental Technology
Field of study Chemistry and Environmental Technology
Field of internship Business, Management, and Marketing
Specialization of InternshipBusiness Administration and Management, General
Internship period (from - to) 31. 08 - 15. 12. 2023
Internship duration (weeks) 15
Transport (means, price) 32 000 CZK
Insurance/Insurance company ISIC - Uniqa
Visa/Work permit (yes/no) Yes
Price of Visa 0
City of Internship Zobrazit místo na mapě  Colombia, Medellin
Internship reference number CO/2023-EAFIT-01

About the country

Location of the place

Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia and the most culturally diverse and metropolitan place. If you're going to be based anywhere other than Medellin, be sure to include a visit to this city in your itinerary. The city's location also ensures consistently consistent weather and it is also known as the city of eternal spring - please don't be fooled, "eternal spring" is meant in Colombian terms. The temperature hovers around 27-30 degrees Celsius every day and it rains now and then.


Medellin offers endless opportunities for cultural enjoyment, from the most famous tourist spots (such as Comuna 13, Plaza Botero, Park Arvi) to everyday life. For example, the entire neighborhood of El Poblado is a cultural and touristic place. There are a lot of restaurants, bars and clubs here, and people mainly go there for entertainment. For a peaceful day, you can visit the botanical garden (which is free in Medellin), the local ZOO, countless parks (Medellin is the city with the most green spaces right inside), go to a movie screening in the summer cinema, etc. On rainy days, it is also offered many indoor activities, such as the possibility of visiting museums or an entertainment center.
Medellin is the only city with a metro and a very developed infrastructure. I travel by metro by purchasing a Civica card (possible at every station), which you can also top up at any station. In addition, Medellin has 6 cable cars that the locals use as a normal means of transportation in the mountains. You can also travel around the city on buses, which almost never have a clearly defined stop, but operate on the principle of waving your hand and you only signal the driver when you get off. Be patient during public transport and believe that you will squeeze a lot with others, because Medellin is a really crowded city.
People here are very friendly and always try to help, no matter how many times it irritates you. Everyone wants to talk and everyone is interested in where you are from. Don't be afraid of anything, the city is safe and you will definitely fall in love with it.

Surroundings (possible trips, ...)

Because my internship had very flexible working hours and schedule, I had the opportunity to visit many places throughout Colombia. The capital Bogota is definitely worth a visit (although it wasn't my favorite place, you only need to visit it once to get it checked off), the Caribbean coast (for beautiful beaches and relaxation), the Pacific coast (very popular in season for whale watching). For adventurous people, I definitely recommend taking part in the Lost City trek in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains or a trip to Leticia (a Colombian city in the heart of the Amazon). There are several agencies in Leticia that will arrange a tailor-made Amazon adventure trip for you.
The Colombian island of San Andrés, which many tourists do not know about, is at the top of the list of the most beautiful places worth seeing. Here are the most beautiful beaches - white sand and crystal clear water, a true paradise.



For the internship, I was placed at the private university EAFIT, one of the largest universities in Medellin and definitely a top university in terms of living conditions. I worked in the business, marketing and management department. My tutor, Professor Ana Maria Ortego Alvarez, made a pleasant impression, but she was everywhere other than available. The fulfillment of work duties was therefore strongly under my direction and a large dose of independence was required.

Work description

The beginning of my internship was very confusing, mainly because my tutor completely forgot that I was supposed to come and did not respond to email communication. I was then assigned to work on a project for the city of Pereira. However, after three weeks of studying the documents for this job, the project was cancelled (which unfortunately can happen), so my tutor looked for another job. Eventually we agreed to write a technical paper, which I worked on for the rest of my internship. My tutor checked the progress of the paper every now and then, but more likely I had to remind myself because she was always busy. The process of data processing for the article involved several complications and so I also encountered a dispute resolution in the workplace. We eventually overcame the crisis and the article was finished and submitted.

Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)

My salary was 1,200,000 COP (approx. 5,500 CZK), which was very little considering that my rent cost the same amount. If you don't want to live on the outskirts of Medellin, you won't find an apartment cheaper. For example, interns from the city of Tunca and Duitama received the same salary + had free lunches at the university and gave a quarter of their salary for the monthly rent. So the support as such was not completely satisfactory, but on the other hand, there were a lot of things to do in Medellin and you weren't as bored as, for example, in Tunca or Duitama or other small towns.
So you have to finance food, travel and entertainment yourself and take it as a benefit that you at least have enough for rent.

Language requirements

My work was conducted entirely in English, so I had no problem with communication on the work side. In addition, my tutor knew that I could not speak Spanish and she always respected that very much.
I realized on the first day that it is very impractical that I don't speak Spanish at all. Finding an English-speaking Colombian is really a feat, but especially at the university there were such people. Anyway, when doing any kind of shopping in a store, restaurant, etc, you really need to learn at least the basics of the Spanish language. If you travel to Colombia untrained in Spanish, don't despair - you'll learn the basics after a while, even if you don't want to.

Accommodation (price, who provided it)

My accommodation cost 1,200,000 COP per month, which is the normal accommodation price for a regular shared room in an apartment.
Accommodation was a bit of a problem, but that was mainly because the local university states that it provides accommodation. However, they no longer felt the need to tell me a week before arrival that they definitely do not arrange accommodation and it is entirely up to me. So at the last minute I found a room in a shared flat about a kilometre from the university. There are several such rooms available in the vicinity of the university, so you just have to choose from the options according to the amount of rent or comfort you want to enjoy. The apartment was normal, I was living in a roommate with 4 other people who were constantly rotating even just during my stay. It's also common in any accommodation to keep the place clean, but at least once a week a cleaner comes in. You also have to slightly adjust to the hygiene conditions (e.g. toilet paper not flushing down the toilet, cockroaches running around in the kitchen was commonplace despite all the care taken to keep the apartment clean..).

Social life

Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organized events...)

There is only one IAESTE office in Colombia and that's in Ibague, so members of the local office do not offer services like airport pickup or anything like that. In mid-September, however, they organized an event, a gathering of all interns, for which we gathered for a few days in Ibagué. Accommodation was provided by IAESTE members in host families and the program was to participate in an international food trad, for which each intern in his host family cooked a typical dish from his country. In the following days, they prepared a trip to the mountains to the thermal springs for us. It was a great event and a perfect opportunity to meet other interns in Colombia. Thanks to this event, we formed strong bonds and planned other individual events and trips as a group.

Meeting other foreign students

At the time of my internship at the university, there was only one other intern with whom we immediately became friends. However, there were not many other foreign students here, or rather there was a certain closed group of Erasmus students, but we never met them and, on the contrary, we made more friends with the local students.

Sport and culture

EAFIT University was more like a city in the middle of a big city. There were many opportunities for cultural and sports activities. The university had its own swimming pool, gymnasium, two football pitches, tennis courts and an athletic field. Various sports activities took place several times a week, in which I could participate, or simply go for a swim in the pool. At the same time, several times a week, a football match was played at the university, which anyone could come to watch and support. The campus also housed a nail and hair salon. For relaxation, several hammocks were placed on the campus, where one could read a book or drink coffee in peace. So the university as such offered. lots of options.
In Medellin, several kilometers of road were closed every Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. so that citizens could safely run, ride a bike, skate, or just take a leisurely walk.

Food, local specialties

As such, I was not very impressed with Colombian cuisine. Every meal was pretty bland (they're not used to much seasoning) and you were always sure to have something fried with a scoop of rice for lunch. But it is definitely worth trying the traditional Medellin dish - bandeja paisa, and along the Caribbean coast there are many great types of fish with coconut rice to choose from.
But what I never got tired of was the selection of exotic fruits and vegetables. Instead of juice, you always got a fresh fruit shake everywhere.

Other information

Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic

It was perfectly fine to connect via the internet. For internet connection on the go, I bought a Tigo data SIM card, with which I had a decent connection even in Amazonia.
Anyway, if you are a little old-fashioned and want to send a look or a letter to your grandmother and loved ones, then forget about it. The reliability of postal services in Colombia is at freezing point, and postcards are nowhere to be found. So settle for just sending photos and messages via Facebook and Whatsapp. By the way, Whatsapp is the most used social tool in Colombia, you can also make restaurant reservations through it and it's very practical, because you don't have to call anywhere (and deal with the fact that you don't know Spanish).

Recommendations for students who will go to the same place

Arm yourself with patience, constantly remind yourself and adopt a relaxed approach.
You also have to get used to the local pace, everything seems like a slow motion movie, both the way people walk on the street and the length of the wait in restaurants etc. My fellow interns and I have had the saying that locals rush to wait. I couldn't get into that pace, but after a while I wasn't as frustrated and learned to tolerate a lot of things.

What not to forget with you

Absolutely everything can be bought and found in Medellín, so be sure to bring something typical of your country for your local friends/colleagues.

Benefits of the internship

I'm definitely very glad that my internship was in Medellin because there are so many ways to spend your free time (summer cinemas, botanical garden, beautiful parks, adventure centres, restaurants and clubs...).
I learned a lot of patience, understanding of another culture and gained valuable experience in the field of research and thesis writing.

Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country

Apart from one event, there was actually no contact at all with the local IAESTE.

Overall experience with IAESTE

I am very grateful for the support of IAESTE in the Czech Republic, which provided me with a lot of advice and help before the actual internship.

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