2018 Global Leadership Grant winner Lorena Reis has recently arrived in Medellin to do her international internship with The Intern Group. Here are 7 reasons to visit Colombia, based on her experiences so far:
1. The food is amazing
The food is fresh, savory, and delicious. So much of a country’s culture is defined by their culinary arts, and that is definitely the case in Colombia. I find it awesome to see all the different types of food being eaten during lunch time in the office, whether it be arroz, frijoles y pollo a la plancha (rice, beans, and chicken) or a cazuela (soup dish). You cannot miss out on the famous pork meat called chicharron nor Colombia’s famous arepas. I love being able to go out for lunch or dinner to explore the several Colombian cuisine options.
2. It’s easy to learn Spanish
One of the best reasons to visit Colombia is that it’s a great place to learn and practice Spanish. The Colombian accents are some of the easiest latino accents to pick up, which is great for beginner speakers. Also, as a part of The Intern Group program, classes are offered at a nearby university called EAFIT, which I have heard to be really effective. As I already knew a lot of Spanish before coming to Colombia, I didn’t take the classes. However, by speaking with my co-workers and my flatmates, they have graciously helped me with certain words and phrases I have struggled with. I feel constantly encouraged, and even though I have only been here for two weeks, I feel that my Spanish comprehension and speaking skills have improved drastically.
3. You’ll love the culture
As an intern in Medellin, I experience paisa culture everyday. The term paisa refers to a person who was born in the state of Antioquia, where Medellin is located. I have noticed a big emphasis on flower production, and the Feria de las Flores (Flower Fair) within the culture, as well as the textile industries. Also, I recognized that paisas have a different accent than other Colombians do. This all highlights how experiencing culture impacts one’s everyday life, and in my case in Medellin.
4. Colombia is affordable
Coming from the United States, interning in Colombia is extremely affordable. Currently, 1 U.S dollar is about 3,000 Colombian pesos. Usually, a lunch meal costs about 12,000 pesos which is only $4.00! This exchange rate has given me the freedom to spend with less worry, which is one of my most recommended reasons to visit Colombia. It has also given me the opportunity to travel to Cartagena in a couple of weeks as the airline tickets and hotels are not as expensive as they would be in the United States.
5. You’ll be inspired by the city’s changes
In 2013, Medellin was named the world’s most innovative city, and when touring the city’s center during my first week, the description definitely holds up. Medellin was once known for its drug cartel led by Pablo Escobar alongside its danger and violence brought upon the city. This is especially highlighted in the hit Netflix series, Narcos, which doesn’t accurately represent everything that had occurred in Medellín. I personally had watched the first season of the show, and going to Medellín, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I learned on the city’s walking tour that after the period of drugs, violence and war, the city united to transform its reputation. They have helped with the mobility of citizens living in poor communities by implementing escalators and metrocables. A clean and safe metro system had been established, and the city has launched social programs. This all led to more social inclusion and a safer city than it was in the 90s. This was one of the main reasons why I wanted to intern in Medellin. It is so astonishing to intern and gain work and life experience in a city that has dramatically transformed.
6. There are so many places to visit
During your internship, there are so many opportunities to visit different cities and explore the history and scenery each has to offer. Some places include Bogotá, Guatape, Cartagena, Cali, Barranquilla, and Santa Marta. I feel that it is important to get to know other cities in order to recognize the beauty of the different regional cultures, like how I highlighted Medellin’s culture earlier in the blog.
7. Beautiful scenery
Colombia has some truly breath-taking scenery. In Medellin, when further up in the mountains, you can see the entire city in the depth of the valley with mountains surrounding it entirely. Within the city, you can witness amazing scenery. The way the city has been planned out and designed creates an appealing “concrete (and brick) jungle” that is truly stunning.