Colombia (Part 1)

Okay no idea why I’m going to be blogging about this like approximately 2 years later, but I spent my morning reading blogs about students on exchange and I thought to myself, why didn’t I do that?!?!? My entire time in Colombia, I think I grew out of blogging and all I wrote was one measly post on my old blog, which didn’t contain much. Okay, I’m going to write this all mostly from memory, so cross my fingers I remember!

Well the decision to go to Colombia was really on a whim. I mean who goes there for an internship right??? Think: drugs, danger, foreign land with foreign language…But I don’t know, I didn’t really think about it that much! Which is pretty suprising because I was only 21 at the time.

Let’s begin with my flight there. It was veryyyyy long. Especially for someone who would have been travelling alone for the first time. The route was like this: I would fly on SQ first to LA, with a stop at Japan in between. And then in LA, I would switch to Copa Airlines to Panama, and then to Medellin (Colombia). So it was around 7hrs to Japan, another 8-9 hours to LA, layover for a bit, 4 hours to Panama, and then 2 hours to Medellin (I THINK! Can’t really remember much). All in all, I think I was flying for about a day plus wtf.

Remember when I said I didn’t think about it much? Now I remember, before my plane took off for LA, I teared. HAHAHA. Because I was thinking wtf is wrong with me?! Colombia on my own! STOP THE PLANE!!!

But unlike Rachel in FRIENDS, I didn’t get off the plane. In fact, travelling alone wasn’t really that bad. It was rather peaceful. Plus nothing much went wrong. I managed to catch all my flights, find the gates etc etc…Only thing was in LA I kept being asked if I was an underaged minor travelling alone hahahaha.

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Selfie in Narita!

Okay fast forward the time, I finally got to Medellin. The company who organises these internships (Intern Latin America) arranged for a driver to pick me up from the airport. He was really nice, we had a pleasant chat. The ride was pretty long though.

When I got to my apartment I met a girl from the company as well, who briefed me on everything I needed to know, and brought me to a nearby mall to change my USD to Colombian Pesos. I also got to choose my bedroom for my time there (chose the biggest hahaha!) I was a bit shell shocked though. I thought I would have had room mates already, but apparently I was the first to arrive and the next guest would only arrive in 2 weeks. So basically, I was a lonely Singaporean girl living in an apartment all by myself for 2 weeks (but it wasn’t too bad!)

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My apartment! Was actually really pretty. One of the nicer ones out of the other interns. The apartment is really safe, guarded with fences and a security guard as well. During my first few days, I had a lot of problems with the keys, there were so many locks on my door! Once, when I went out and came back, I couldn’t unlock my door. So I had to go to the guard and sign language to him that I couldn’t get in to my place, and tried to ask him to help me. Just imagine a girl who doesn’t speak Spanish at all gesturing to the security guard who just gives a blank look back…But in the end he did follow me to my door and kind of got what I was trying to say, and helped me open my door. Thank God. Would have slept on the streets of Medellin.

Okay so on my first day, I didn’t do much because I decided to take a 2 hour nap before exploring. But, I woke up at 3am. Hahaha blame it on jet lag.

That weekend (my friend Nisa who was already there was away that weekend), I spent some time on my own exploring the neighbourhood and buying some groceries. Boring, I know. But not knowing how to speak the language since my Spanish lessons were only going to begin a few weeks later, I didn’t really dare to go too far.

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This is a street leading up to my apartment! The one thing about Medellin, it’s a city on a mountain, so there’s a lottttt of hills and steep slopes. When I got back to Singapore I was so thankful that I didn’t really need to walk much hahaha.

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The streets. Avenida El Poblado is where I lived. It’s actually one of the richest neighbourhoods, which means it was safe. Thankfully.

I can’t remember what day I got there! But I think the next day I met up with some other interns to go for a tour of Medellin. I can’t really remember where we went so I’ll just dump some pictures hahaha.

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If I’m not wrong, that was a Sunday and I was due to start work on the Monday.

I interned at a place called Canal U. It is a a university television channel! I was supposed to do some journalism and writing stuff because at the point when I interned, they wanted to reach out to English-speaking international students too.

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What I wore on my first day. Only to be really embarrassed because everyone there was dressed super casually. Anyway, my office was located at this place called Plaza Mayor, which is like the Medellin equivalent of Expo.

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The office! Inside is pretty cool. Very open office, hip and young. People there were relatively young too. One problem, I didn’t speak Spanish. So the only person I could converse with was a guy named Santiago, who sat at the desk beside mine. His English was reaalllyy good. And every morning when I got into the office, he would greet me with “Hi, sweetie.” Hahahahahaha. On my first day, he googled Singapore and asked me, “So do you really eat chicken rice?” And proceeded to show me chicken rice on the Wikipedia page he was on hahahah. Besides him, there was another intern from the UK that I hung out with.

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My little work space and work laptop. They sometimes film stuff like music or a tv show they had, so I would just watch in the studio. (Not understanding anything)

Oh! One time, I dozed off at my desk. And then Santiago told me that one of our colleagues asked him, “Is this what happens in Singapore?!” Hahaha I guess Colombians are usually very awake at work.

So for my first day, I was driven to work by the lady in charge of interns. Subsequently, I travelled on the metro, which was pretty convenient. About 15 minutes away from my apartment by walking, and then a few stops, and another short walk. Yes, I really did a lot of walking there. Probably had a lot of exercise. Spoilt Singaporean girl finally using her legs.

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If I’m not wrong, Aguacatala is the stop near my apartment. The metro is quick, efficient. I did have a bad experience on it, but more on that next time! The metro was my main mode of transportation, but towards the end of my internship I started cabbing instead hahaha (cabs are very cheap there!)

So for the next few days, my routine was work from morning till 6pm (until my “bad experience” on the metro and I was allowed to leave at 5pm instead). Two weeks later, I started my Spanish lessons at Universidad EAFIT (a university near my apartment). So every morning, I would spend 4 hours in Spanish class, have my lunch, and then go to my office in the afternoon. Sometimes I would even go back to my apartment for a nap too, which explains my cabbing habit after a few weeks hahaha.

Spanish. What can I say. I always thought I would be pretty good with languages, but nope. I did not do well in Spanish at all. Basically, for my lessons, I was expected to already have a basic knowledge of latin languages. My only other classmate knew French, which is pretty similar. On my first lesson, my teacher came in and just rattled in Spanish and I was like o.O. She even told me “Leer, Melissa. Leer.” And I stared at her blankly. Only to realize she was asking me to read. I mean how would I have known leer meant read!

Anyway we had the typical school stuff, tests and assignments.

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This was one of my assignments, to talk about my best friend. So I prepared my speech a little the day before so I wouldn’t screw up.

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946288_10151768311145854_221433194_nOn the left is my Spanish teacher. She’s actually really nice! It’s just too bad I sucked at the language hahaha. In the middle is my only classmate, Oswald. I think he’s from Belgium. Many other interns were from America and usually they know Spanish already, so they ended up in higher levels while I was only at Level 1.

The good news is, I did pass. Hahaha. But right now, I probably can’t remember much Spanish. Eventually, I knew enough to get me around, buy food and other things. Have very simple basic conversations. Oh! Funny thing, during lessons when I had to speak in Spanish, I have no idea why but my brain kept thinking of Malay words instead. I guess when you’re trying to tell your brain not to speak in English, it automatically goes to your other language. Even funnier, when I got back and was buying food at Malay stalls, I would actually speak Spanish instead of Malay!! Horrible.

Okay so that’s for the main part of my time in Colombia! Internship, and learning Spanish. In the next few posts I shall talk about my other adventures, which is more interesting! So stay tuned and pray I do keep this blogging thing up haha.

Fingers getting tired, hahaha till next time! xx

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