Clara Fleury, Clémence Ponçon and Mathilda Millet
From left to right: Clara, Clémence y Mathilda/ Photographer: José Fernando Ramírez Cano.
Clara Fleury was on a routine train ride, in the city of Lyon, France, when she overheard another passenger, Mathilda Millet, commenting that she would leave to Popayan the following year, in 2012. It was a coincidence, since Clara was also preparing her trip to the same city. Both of them were doing this trip through the academic mobility process with the University of Cauca. The two girls studied at the University Lyon 2 in France. Mathilda, a political science student, and Clara, an Anthropology student as well as Clémence Ponçon, from the same Anthropology program as Clara, had chosen the same Colombian institution for the international exchange experience.
They learned of the possibility of mobility to Unicauca during an internationalization seminar held in Lyon 2. The University of Cauca appeared on the long list of opportunities.
Mathilda Millet / Photographer: José Fernando Ramírez Cano.
Mathilda was sure that she wanted to move to South America, preferably to a small town. She did not want to go to big cities such as Chile, Buenos Aires, Asuncion , Mexico or Bogota. Then, she started her own research about Popayán and decided to put it as a first choice in a list of three possible cities for her exchange program.
She was interested in studying her third year (fifth and sixth semester) of Political Science in a country where that area of knowledge had to deal with the social aspect of the conflict and also she became interested in the indigenous population that lives in the department of Cauca.
Clara, like her friend, did not want to live in a big city. She was interested in the relationship human being – nature. She thought that the Cauca department would be a great environment to start her graduate studies and to work on her thesis.
Clara Fleury / Photographer: José Fernando Ramírez Cano.
To Clémence Ponçon the decision was not at random. She always wanted to be an archaeologist, since she was a little girl, but in France this area is not linked to Anthropology but to the history of art. Furthermore, the methodology is different, mainly based on theory.
At her college, for example, she would never leave from a class to a genetics laboratory, as it happens in Unicauca. Unicauca also offers her a lot of exceptional a field trips to different places throughout the Cauca department.
Clémence poncon / Photo: José Fernando Ramírez Cano.
Both the undergraduate Anthropology program offered by the University of Cauca, and the Colombian context attracted Clémence so much that she would like to go back to our country after going to France to receive her bachelor's degree in Anthropology. The idea is to return to the University of Cauca and take four semesters to graduate with a major in archeology.
"I think that Nowhere in the world do people would welcome you like here ." Clara Fleury
Both Clémence and Clara are studying abroad through grants from the Rhône -Alpes region, which the University Lyon 2 is located. And Mathilda is using a a grant from the State. That is the least difficult part, they say, as virtually all students have scholarship. The acquisition of Visas and other official documents were the most complex part and what required more time and money.
Once visa process issue was solved, Mathilda and Clara traveled to Popayan in August 2012 and Clémence a month later, when her friends had rented a house. They were surprised that ORII helped them to find the house and that they got a lot of support from the office during the early days. " We are the only ones that have been so lucky," said Clara, as in other universities, foreign students do not receive much attention, "maybe because there are few foreign students here" she says.
Before returning to France, the girls visited various places in the Department of Cauca and traveled to Ecuador and Peru.
The mobility experience ended before the end of 2013 and Clémence, Mathilda and Clara return home.
Mathilda Millet : http://on.fb.me/12fBgIb
Clara Fleury : http://on.fb.me/131SOWW
Clémence poncon : http://on.fb.me/12fAYBj
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