When we first arrived to Bogotá we got in contact with a young guy named Richard. He had just finished his bachelor at Universidad Nacional de Colombia. The more we got to know Rich, the more I could see how proud he was about his former university. The way he talked about his time at university and especially the admiration he expressed for one of his professors was something I had never came across during my five years at university in Europe, not in me or in my fellow students. I believe that we somehow took our higher studies for granted and many of us did it because of the norm: going to university is something that you just do. We have good university education and it is either totally free to enrol or you have to pay a smaller amount every semester.
During my five years at university I spent one semester abroad and nine months doing an internship in another country which led to that I could spend 4 months of my last semester writing master thesis abroad. Not having to pay any enrolment fees. Higher education in Colombia is not as easy accessible or as cheap as in some European countries. I really believe that the free education in some European countries has led to that the students do not engage in their studies in the same way as in countries where education is expensive or not as easy to access. Many young Europeans study because the norm of society says so, not because the really want it or that they have a specific goal with their students.
My friend Rich was involved in the election for the new rectorate, supporting and working for one of the candidates- his former professor Fabián Sanabria. Rich sense of proudness over his old university and his engagement in the rectorate campaign made me so fascinated that I decided to try to understand this context a bit better and the people putting their valuable spare time into supporting the person that they argue is the best suited for become the rector/president for Colombias best University. I followed the group for three weeks and participated in meetings and other voluntary activities in order to promote their candidate.