Help: Living in Colombia?
Hope you can provide me with some needed council and balance of opinion! Just a few weeks ago, I was struggling with whether to move back to DC or NYC. Now, after 2 more weeks of experiencing the life and culture of Colombia in beautiful Medellin, I am seriously considering trying to find work here so I can live awhile. It sounds hard but doable if you put in the time and work to teach English. Alternatively, I think I could establish a solid blog here based on my experiences and the city. Unlike uber-popular Thailand, there aren't a lot of people in the space extolling the virtues of life and travel here, and I'm touched by the way young Colombians want more people to visit and see their country isn't so dangerous anymore.
Of course my parents think I should come home as planned, get a job, and continue the traditional life I left 15 months ago. My Dad, in particular, seems to think I could end up with a family and being unable to ever return to the States. I suppose it is possible, but not something I foresee. I have enough trouble getting a date (though not here....the women are so friendly).
Why do I want to live here? To see what it is like to learn a language, which means I can better interact with the locals. I love the culture around music, dancing (salsa, meringue, etc), and partying. But there is more - soccer (they're not the best in South America, but it'd be fun all the same), giving myself time to explore the whole country....and possibly other parts of the continent, having the time to start a new website or two (that really excites me), and maybe see if I'm cut out to be an English teacher.
I guess that is it for now. What are your thoughts? I could give Medellin a year or two.....just as I would've NYC....and I don't think I would be sealing my fate as a resident of the USA. If anything, I would be building a unique resume, and if I get another popular blog under my belt, the potential groundwork for a new career.
Alternatively, I could not find work, not earn enough from websites, use up my remaining savings, accidentally impregnate a Colombian woman, be forced to marry her at gunpoint by a traditional family, and end up running drugs for FARC in the jungle. But that would be a worst case scenario!
I think you should go for it; I haven't been to Colombia yet (although I'll be there for six weeks this summer hopefully), but everything I've read and heard recently makes me incredibly excited about it. It really sounds like now is a very exciting time to be there, and to me your plan sounds great. Travelling is great, but you can only really start to get to know a place when you actually live there and start to experience the culture more like a local.
Just the experience of learing Spanish would be enough to make it worthwhile, I reckon - having a second language makes travelling even easier, and even if you do return home to the US, it's a valuable skill to add to your resume.
Plus - you've already been away for over a year, what difference is another year going to make? You're still young!
Go for it. It'll be the experience of a lifetime.
(oh, and I've been reading, and enjoying, your blog for a while now, it's very enjoyable.)
This is Ed, we met in DC a while back. I've been checking out your blog from time to time. I'm amazed that you're still out there. I've been back for a couple of months now. Looks like I'm about to land a new job, something I'm not that excited about. So I can understand your hesitancy about coming back.
I haven't been to Colombia but I have looked into it as a possible place to live. From my understanding, there are a couple of hurdles. Colombia only allows you to stay for six months a year. You can't border hop and come back and get 6 more months. Unless, of course, you can get a visa (such as a work visa). Unfortunately, most schools don't want to go to the bother of sponsoring you for a work visa.
The second issue concerns renting an apartment. Most Colombians won't rent to foreigners unless they have a Colombian who will sponsor them. If you can't find a Colombian to sponsor you, then you'll probably be faced with renting from an ex-pat. Which is likely to be a lot more expensive.
Anyway, this is just what I've learned from reading stuff on the net. You're actually there so you might already know all about this stuff and have it figured out. If not, I'd suggest checking out posts on Dave's ESL cafe and Poor but Happy.
If Colombia doesn't work out, you might consider Peru. Much easier in terms of renting a place and getting a visa (or border hopping if need be). And the people are also very friendly.
Thanks for the support. It matches a lot of what I heard from friends and coworkers. It has helped me to feel better about my decision to want to stay here and find work.
I learned about http://poorbuthappy.com from a guy looking for a teaching job, and it looks like a great resource. I also found Dave´s ESL Cafe when looking for advice on writing a TEFL resume. I continue to take the logical steps toward finding work here. I can´t always make my parents happy, I realize.
Thanks for continuing to support my travel blog at http://www.gobackpacking.com/Blog
The income from the site has helped me to travel for this long. And it is also why I am excited to develop a new site - http://medellinliving.com
Check it out if you get the chance!!!!
Your new site looks great! (one of these days I need to learn how to build a website). I really like the look of it. And being one of the first ex-pats posting about an area definitely helps!
I've been living in MDE since early 2007. Traveled to Colombia after an RTW some years earlier.
Wel-come! (Bien-Venidos) Rent own apartment and done various visa things, took Spanish classes, bank account...etc...
I think if you went back home now you would regret lost opportunities forever.
I stopped in many countries and did many jobs when i did my RTW trip, many things I would never have thought of trying back at home and had I lots of really good experiences. (I even worked illegally and narrowly missed getting caught! Not that I am recommending that!)
But I dont regret a minute of any of it.
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