I have to say that I may be the happiest I have ever been. Perhaps it’s the fact that I am currently living in the city of eternal spring and the weather hovers around a solid 75F everyday. Perhaps it’s because I spend the majority of everyday working on things I find fulfilling and important (writing, exercise, and language). Or maybe it’s just the view from my apartment.
El Poblado is definitely an ex-pat bubble. This has been both good and bad— good because I can easily grab a salad, I can go to an English-speaking gym, and there are loads of opportunities for Spanish classes. Bad because, well, it’s a lot harder to slip into Colombian culture when you are living in a miniature United States.
Tomorrow I am flying to Santa Marta for two weeks but before I go, I just want to share parts of why I am feeling so happy in Medellin recently:
- Health: I discovered this gym geared at expats here. Usually I don’t like that sort of thing, wanting to “blend into the local culture” like a true hipster. But this gym really made a difference in both my body and my mentality. I’m actually planning an entire post next week just about my experience working out while traveling.
Plus, it’s easy to buy fresh fruits and vegetables (and AVOCADOS) for super cheap, so I’ve been eating ridiculously well. I’ll post some before and after photos soon, but it’s been a pretty exciting transformation.
- Language Acquisition: My lack of Hindi in India actually started to depress me. After awhile, every time I spoke English I started beating myself up. I really wish I had taken a real class, but there just wasn’t a market to teach foreigners Hindi in Chandigarh, India (population of foreigners: 0).So when I moved to South America I vowed that I would speak Spanish like a pro by the time I left. Since this is the fourth language I have studied formally (and fifth informally), the process is going quickly.
I am also planning to write an entire blog post just on learning a language, but I’m pretty excited about where my Spanish is now (it’s a solid “meh” status) as compared to where it was when I first landed in Argentina (I could say ‘pollo’ and ‘hola’).
Finding a good language teacher can be difficult. It took me three weeks in Medellin before I found a teacher that was a good “fit.” Now I almost don’t want to leave Colombia just because I like my Spanish teacher so much.
- Friends: Actually, my social life in Medellin hasn’t been very lively. I’ve gone out a couple times with my AirBnB hosts (I’ve stayed in two AirBnBs now). A few years ago I would find this “sad” but honestly I think not having a ton of social pressure is what is making me so happy. I’ve had tons of time to work on myself, my writing, and my hobbies.
In Argentina, I had a thriving social life but I wasn’t taking care of myself. I’m excited to go back, but I’m happy to have sort of taken a bit of a “break” and gotten myself in order so I can better withstand the social pressure to eat badly and drink a lot.
Plus, it’s giving me the time to catch up with some of my old friends in the US, India, and Argentina.
- Food: No words needed
5. Work: I have an amazing routine which involves me waking up at 7am, getting ready, arriving at my café at 8:30am, ordering the exact same thing every morning and working.
Like I said, this neighborhood is an expat bubble. While I don’t love all the English, it is nice that café culture is thriving here. Everyone jams inside with a laptop and is living up the “digital nomad” lifestyle. I get a ridiculous amount of work done in the café from 8:30-12:00/1 everyday.
6. Festivals: Colombians are great at partying. The next two weeks are Feria de las Flores, the festival of the flowers. This involves parades, flower vendors, free concerts, and traditional food/crafts being sold in parks. I’m sad I will miss so many of the events, but I’ve been working every weekend for a month and a half to justify going on vacation.