Although my university classes haven’t started yet, the past week has given me the chance to get to know the beautiful Amazonian Campus. Five days of introduction events have been organized for the new pre-grad students here, and I was invited to participate in any event I wanted. For me, it was a great opportunity to gather information about all important procedures, to practice my Spanish and, above all, to meet a lot of new friends.


I must admit, learning a new language by living it is pretty exhausting. My Spanish skills are still rather basic, and especially the first few days were very tiring. I struggled whenever I had to form a sentence, and understanding others was quite a challenge as well. However, I was greeted with a lot of patience and sympathy, and I am glad to say that so far everything has worked just fine.

Somehow I ended up joining a working group for a very interesting documentation on my first day at the uni. Practically I just followed the invitation of some new friends I had just met and a professor who seemed nice, without actually knowing what it was all about. After several explanations, I finally understood that we are going to make a documentation film about women rights and sexual education. Well, that’s definitely a pretty cool project! The idea was initiated by a group of older students who have left the campus already. Our professor informed us that to obtain some additional equipment and material, some promotion of the plan was required. That very Monday afternoon, two reporters from Television Leticia would arrive to interview us. Well, why not? We quickly prepared some answers to the list of questions they would ask and distributed the roles we would play. Luckily I could avoid to speak to the cameras, my task was to merely sit at a computer, pretending to work. Still, being filmed for a TV clip is quite a curious start of a semester!

During the following days, I learned a lot about the uni, the courses and procedures. For instance, it turned out that I had only seen the list of courses from the last semester so far – yet the new choices are just as interesting. Moreover, a very nice Señorita from the university explained to me that I had to register for a national ID before I could matriculate. Before I knew it, I was sitting behind her on her motorbike on the way to the migration office. I was introduced to professors, led around the campus, and supported in any possible way.


The highlights, however, were the events on the end of the week. Again, I had no idea of what awaited me. Some kind of game would take place Thursday afternoon, first semester versus second semester, that’s all I understood. Thursday morning I heard plans being made about launching a counter attack, someone proposed bringing water balloons, others voted for sugar water or flour. That definitely sounded like something I didn’t want to miss. When we gathered again in the afternoon, there were indeed some water balloons, but also eggs and other ammunition. Everything was hidden carefully as soon as the older students approached.

The game itself turned out to be some kind of inauguration challenge, led by the older students. We first semesters were divided into groups and tied together hand-to-hand with pieces of cloth, forming chains of seven or eight students. Unfortunately, the leaders of the counter-attack were in a different group than mine. What followed was an adventurous journey all around the campus, with many obstacles to be mastered. We had to cross bridges blocked by strings and branches, rob on our bellies through the mud beneath them, and find our way blindfolded. At every station we were asked some questions about the university, and at every wrong answer we were drained with water, covered with flour or thrown at with eggs. Yet we dried quickly in the warm equatorial sun, and in fact it was a lot of fun all in all. Finally, we reached our destination, with pants brown with mud and shirts white with flour, with egg yolk in our hair, paint on our skin, and a big smiles on our face. Cheers, we did it, now let’s celebrate!


And celebrate we did, although one day later. On Friday evening, the introduction week ended with a great fiesta. After a performance of the university choir and some last welcoming words in the auditorium, it was time to party! In the cafeteria, chairs and tables had made space for a large dance floor and an impressive set of loudspeakers that could be heard all the way to the airport - about one kilometer away. The music they played combined pair-dance rhythms like Salsa or Merengue with modern disco-type Reggaetoon, and the dance styles I saw were just as diverse. For all I know so far, I like the Colombian way to live and to party – and I am sure to see more of it soon.

I’m looking forward to the many adventures that are yet to come!