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“Hospitable”, “chéveres”, “cool”, “always ready to help”, “very helpful”. These were some of the terms used to describe Sergistas. by the exchange students that this semester visited Sergio Arboleda University, and said goodbye this past November 30th in the traditional typical breakfast organized by the Office of International Relations, ORI.
There were 15 students in total from Mexico City, Santiago de Chile, Cali and Barranquilla who bet on La Sergio to undergo their academic exchange. “This experience gives you another perspective, you do not return being the same person and you always want to travel; you will no longer comply to be in the same place”, says Pablo Torres, student of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – UNAM, who completed his semester as an exchange student in the School of Politics and International Relations of Sergio Arboleda University.
Their growth, they say, was not only academic, but it was also an opportunity to enjoy experiences that helped to strengthen their self-confidence and sense of responsibility. “For me it represented the process of growing-up, of becoming independent, of assuming my own expenses”, points Ángela Palacios, student of Social Communication and Journalism of the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente of Cali, who felt a special bond with the Institution as soon as she stepped into La Sergio.
“Sergio Arboleda’s response was very cool. I liked the fact of “being Sergista” ;from the moment I wrote my purpose letter I felt more linked to the University. The attention was very special from the very beginning, for example with the welcome lunch hosted, everything seemed nicer. I think that they take a lot of care of students”, says Ángela.
Students from Mexico were all aligned in their perspectives thus, taking full advantage of their stay in the country to discover some of the most fascinating places such as Cartagena, Tayrona National Park, Medellín, Eje Cafetero, San Andrés Island and even the Amazon.
“From the outset, when we arrived from Mexico, the coordinator of the Office of International Relations, Laura Santana, greeted us at the airport, and then took us to the hotel. If she had not been there it would not have been so easy because it is very difficult to arrive in a different country. Instead, Laura was there with us from the first moment” says Jaqueline Montserrat, student of Psychology at UNAM.
One of the initiatives led by the ORI to accompany the students was the “Plan Padrino”, in which, voluntarily, the University’s employees pledged to provide the support and advice for the adaptation and accommodation of the national and international students.
“The objective is to raise awareness of the exchange students, communicate with them via e-mail, and hold regular meetings to find out how they are doing. At the end of the semester, we organize this traditional breakfast to show them a little more about Colombian culture and its gastronomy, and give them a very warm farewell”, says Laura Santana, coordinator of the ORI.
Now, as they are ready to take the plane back to their homes, they admit that the experience at La Sergio was very positive. “You expand your vision a lot, you take into account that you are capable of doing many things by yourself, you don’t only realize that there are many problems in the world and how beautiful your culture and country are, but that there are also interesting things outside of it”, adds Pablo.
From La Sergio they take with them many memories, but most important of all, the seal of humanism and the importance of being in the academic training as professionals: “Being Sergista is being integral because you don’t only come to study, but you are also held accountable as a human being. So you are not only growing and shaping up academically, but also sharing with other people and enjoying very cool spaces”, adds Ángela.
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