Find your Passion, and then Live it

Medellín, Colombia

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Leaving Medellín - The 1 yr mark

Today is the day. Today I leave Medellín after a year of being here. And what a year's it been. It seems strange to think that a year has already passed. At times it feels like I just arrived yesterday, and others it feels like ive been here forever, because of all the friends Ive made, the experiences Ive had and the places Ive been to.

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

El Salado



San Andrés

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
- Barranquilla
- Cali
- Amazonas
- 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.

9. Fincas

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.

11. Thanksgiving

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.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Last weeks in Medellín

I have been taking advantage of my time here in Medellín as it winds down, and the closer I get to returning to Canada. Over the past couple of weeks, I have finished my contract working, partying a lot in Lleras, seeing as many friends as possible, and starting to say my goodbyes :(

On Tues Jan 31st, I had my last day of work. I absolutely loved working at CICE. It was an amazing experience, and the people I worked with were awesome. I learned so much with regards to the Colombian business environment, improved my Spanish and business vocabulary, and has the ability to interact with clients in a different country while speaking a different language! Needless to say, I was incredibly lucky to have such an amazing internship through AIESEC. It was so much more than I was expecting, and I gained some incredible relevant experience that I hope will help me get the job I want when i get back to Canada!

This past Saturday I had my despedida (Spanish for farewell party). We started the night at Mesa 23, a bar owned by a friend of mine, where we all met up and had a few beers. Then we headed to Buenavista for some salsa dancing, and danced the night away until the bar closed around 230am.

It was at my despedida that I said the majority of my goodbyes to friends, coworkers, etc. It wasnt until I said goodbye to my friends at the end of the night, that it started to sink in that Im actually leaving. I cant believe it's been a year already, time has flown!

Last night my friend Alejandro and I went to hang out in Ciudad del Rio which is a park near where I use to live in Poblado. It's this kind of cool skateboard area mixed in with an industrial style park. Here, Alejandro put on a bit of a show, and did his fire poi for me. It was super impressive to see. Basically poi is a artistic skill where a person has 2 balls that are attached to a chain, and normally lit on fire, and they are swung in all kinds of different ways and rhythms and the result are some incredible tricks and sights. Check out some photos:

Here is a video: