I started the international part of my journey in Colombia, and this country will always hold a very special place in my heart. The lands are beautiful, the culture is incredible and the people are some of the kindest I have met. I spent three months in Colombia, mostly in Cartagena studying Spanish. I fell in love with this city the moment I got out of the taxi. The old town`s colonial architecture and protective walls sent me back to another time, while a visit to the Bocagrande area brought back fond images of Miami. Juxtapose these two together and you have a city with one foot in the past and one in the future. And I loved it.
Through my Spanish school, I was able to participate in many cultural and historical activities. I believe that through only studying the past, can you fully understand the present. Colombia`s rich history fascinated me like nothing before. I went to every concert, show, movie, tour, presentation, and museum I was offered. The teaching text the school used was full of historic figures and stories of Colombia, and the teachers went out of their way to find recent articles on current events, so learning Spanish wasn’t just about memorizing words or conjugating verbs. It was really a full immersion. The icing on the cake was living with a Colombian family for the three months I was there. Although very challenging at times, especially because they spoke no English, I think the experience of living within the family gave me a greater understanding. It was frustrating, enlightening, different, and sometimes quite dramatic being a part of a family that I could not communicate with and a culture so different from my own. In the end, I was glad for the experience. If fact, it`s very interesting writing about Cartagena now, almost six months after the experience, so I can look back and reflect with some distance to see that it was all worth it.