When I think about all the things that have happened over the past year it amazes me. I came here on an AIESEC internship to work for a consulting firm on a one year contract and gained the most amazing (and relevant) experience, had the pleasure to work with some great people, and improved my Spanish to the point of fluency. I also met some incredible people through AIESEC and within the city of Medellín and Colombia. Some of whom have become great friends, that type of life long friendship. :) Finally I also had the opportunity to travel the country and see the beautiful cities, towns, and landscapes that Colombia has to offer. Here's a summary of all the places I went to:
Coveñas / Tolú
Eje Cafetero / Manizales
I didnt get the opportunity to travel to all the major places in Colombia, but I did pretty well in getting to know the majority of the country. For the next time I come back to Colombia here are a few places I'd like to visit still:
- Santa Marta
- Parque Tayrona
- Explore more of Eje Cafetero
Over the past year I also got to experience some unique things I got to experience here in Medellín:
1. La Feria de Las Flores
The festival of flowers is one of the best and biggest festivals in all of Colombia. It is the pride of Medellín, and for good reason. It was incredible to see and be apart of. Probably one of my all time favourite experiences in Colombia. It is basically 2 weeks of constant partying, concerts, parades, food, fairs, and of course flowers.
2. Alumbrados Navideños
Another well known event that happens every year in Medellín are its Christmas lights. This past year there was over 16 million lights in the city. These lights come in all different sizes, shapes and colours. The majority of the lights are strung up in huge displays along the river, as well as different displays throughout the city and smaller barrios (neighbourhoods).
3. TeleMedellín Interview
In the second half of my year in Medellín I was asked to be interviewed by a Colombian TV channel that has a new program which is all in English. They wanted to interview me, and ask me to speak about my experience, what its like for an international person to live in Colombia etc. It was a lot of fun to do. I was equipped with a microphone, and we did several shots of me talking, answering questions and then some artsy shots for editing purposes. :) Definitely a cool experience
4. Colombian Wedding
In October, Leo and I crashed a Colombian wedding. One of Sara's cousins was getting married, and she invited us along. We knew no one there, and didnt even know the bride or groom, but we had the most amazing time. It was also just a really fun experience to have, and to see the wedding traditions, and how Colombians celebrate etc. Needless to say, we all had major hangovers the next day.... Colombians really know how to celebrate a wedding.
5. Multiple Chivas
Chivas used to be traditional forms of transportation in towns and cities of Colombia, but now they're used as party buses. You get a group of 25-40 people on a bus, standing and dancing, and drinking as much as they want while the bus drives around the city. Probably one of the best partying experiences I had while in Colombia. Everyone should try one
6. Copa Mundial Sub-20
Lucky for me this year the World Cup Under 20 was held in various cities in Colombia, so I was lucky enough to see a game with Sara and Leo in Medellín. I was able to see England and Argentina play. The game ended 0-0, but it was still a game thing to see. Leo was also able to travel to Armenia (in the coffee region of Colombia) to see Guatemala play against an African team.
7. Clásico Match (Nacional vs Medellín)
The two most famous teams in Medellín are Nacional (green and white colours) and Deporte Medellín (blue and red colours). When these two rival teams play each other, it's called a Clásico. I attended one with a few people of AIESEC, Kevin and Leo. It was an incredibly exciting game, and the energy from the crowd was amazing. Unfortunately this game ended with a riot in the middle of the stadium crowds, which we were apart of, and had to flee the stadium to get away from the dangerous crowds. :S
8. December in Medellín
Colombia in general puts every country to shame when it comes to Christmas time and decorations. The city is literally adorned with every decoration, light, and colour for the month of December in order to celebrate Christmas and the new year. It's very impressive to see. There are large displays in various malls, around different neighbourhoods and in office buildings and universities. These displays include everything from Christmas trees, animal characters, nativity scenes, lights, and there was even a skating rink in a mall near my apartment.
Fincas are the Colombian version of a cottage. Where it is normally located somewhere outside of major cities in the country, and usually have a pool. It's where Colombians go on weekends and during vacation to relax. I was able to go to 3 fincas during my time in Colombia. They are very old yet beautiful houses with stellar views. A great way to spend a weekend.
10. Help Portrait
I was asked to take part in a volunteer photography project called Help Portrait within the city back in November. Myself along with 15 other volunteers visited a poor barrio in the city, Santo Domingo, and spent the day taking free professional photographs for people who wanted one. Then later on in the day we got the prints developed and handed back to the people of the community. To see their expressions and reactions to the photos was priceless.
Over Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, I made Thanksgiving dinner with Sara and Leo in Medellín. We cheated a little bit, by buying a precooked Chicken, but we made oven roasted potatoes, garlic bread, and veggies. We even did the tradition where everyone goes around the table and says what they're thankful for (but in Spanish). Then for dessert Leo made a delicious chocolate cake. It was a fun way to share the Canadian Thanksgiving tradition.