Medellin, Colombia is a city full of life and culture, however when being from the exterior adapting to life in another country can sometimes be a difficult challenge to adjust to. Let´s take a look at some ways to socially adapt to the Colombian way of life.
One of the best ways to connect socially besides going out, is through social media websites such as LinkedIn, xing.com, couch surfing and Facebook. This is what I did.
Xing and Linked will allow you to better connect yourself with other foreign business visitors and natives, before even leaving your home. Here, you are able to show what country you are from and take the opportunity to set up times to meet in the city once you arrive. Couch surfing.com can serve as a way to meet other people, it doesn`t mean you have to stay with them, but meeting up and having them show you around is always a plus. Facebook is a great way to connect, because once you have added a known contact, you can browse through their contacts and add someone without having to call them. Even for the generation that is not used to Facebook it is recommended that you utilize this powerful tool to help open up doors. You can request to meet up without having to disclose your entire life. Around 50% of attempted contacts with respond and agree to meet.
Parque Lleras is the best place for visitors to meet up with others, as within this park you will find a diverse atmosphere of people from all over the world as well as natives. There are many bars/restaurants/danceclubs such as Office Licor, Divino Cielo, Juan Valdéz, Bascilia, Hooters, and Thaico. Here you can dance to salsa, bachata, merengue, vallenato and reggaeton. Other popular social areas in Medellín include Rio Sur, La Strada and Barrio Colombia. Rio Sur offers a more quite setting with classier bars situated outside which allows for a beautiful time with a group of friends or with a partner. La Strada is an elegant/higher class area which has very nice bars and restaurants. Here you can find many successful business people both native and foreign. Barrio Colombia is situated in the industrial zone. These dance/nightclubs are directed towards a full night of dancing and hardcore partying which consists of crossover music.
Tip: Parque Lleras is not the most authentic Colombian place. For a more Colombian feel check out Sabaneta, La estrella and Envigado etc.
Communication is vital to the success of an enjoyable experience in Medellin. The spoken language in Colombia is Spanish. For those of you who do not speak a word of Spanish, have no fear as there are great opportunities to enroll in intensive Spanish courses. The University of EAFIT and the University of Medellin are two great places to take intensive 2 week courses. It is actually more recommended that you enroll at the University of Medellin since there are not as many foreigners and you can enjoy a more cultured experience. Not only do you have the opportunity to learn Spanish in a fast and efficient way but you also have access to a campus full of national and international students where many connections can be made. These universities also allow you to sit in classes of other subjects to learn and experience education the Colombian way. Once feeling comfortable with the Spanish language you can go explore other parts of the city such as Sabaneta, Laureles, Parque Berrio, and the Botanical Gardens.
You can even begin to explore outside of Medellin and adventure to the surrounding areas such as Santa Fe of Antioquia, San Jeronimo, San Antonio and Llano Grande where the weather is extremely beautiful and hot. In the surrounding areas you can enjoy a more pleasant and calmer atmosphere, escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city. With Colombian being a smaller country by airplane on average it’s about an hr to other major cities such as Bogota, Cali, Barranquilla and Cartagena and around 9-12 hours by bus.
Tip: Spending less is sometimes more. By being in a student area or having a drink in a park can lead to more social opportunities. This allows you to get away from the more pristine higher class ruled environment.}
Tip: Once Spanish level is adequate. Go take classes, take up a sport or enroll in art and dancing classes.
Renting an apartment in Medellin can be a substantial advantage in adapting to social life in Colombia. You can invite people to throw parties or host an event. Many apartments have pools, Turkish baths, Jacuzzis and have a spectacular view, which makes it an even more inviting environment. You can hire a maid to help cook and clean for around $15 USD. A music DJ or a mariachi local band (Mariachi is a live Mexican based music which comes to your place for half an hour to an hour.) can also be contracted for around $30-50 USD. This allows you to show your hospitality side and develop more interpersonal relationships.
Tip: Host or be a sponsor for a party– spend the same but get to know 10 times more people!
Taking buses or other forms of public transport will also help you to fully integrate in the culture and customs of Colombia. Many cultural and social events take place in the Center of Medellin, La plaza Mayor and surrounding pueblos. Many cultural events involve traditional dances, cooking of Colombian food, plays and theater shows, art displays and musical festivals. Here you can take advantage, participate, expand your knowledge and grow with the culture.
Tip: Always take the bus system if you want to enjoy the full integrated Colombian culture.
Come explore Medellin, Colombia and the social realm it has to offer. This is one visit you won´t regret. For more information regarding the social life in Colombia, sponsoring/hosting a party please inquires below.