1. Sin Afán

‘Sin Afán’ meaning ‘without hurry’ was also the name of the boat that took us and other tourists from Playa Blanca to Cartagena (making several unscheduled stops to unload parcels, one stop to allow one of the workers to go to the bathroom, and one stop in the middle of the sea so that all the tourists could climb onto another boat through the windows). I’ve learnt that people here take things at a more comfortable pace. A meeting from six to eight at night can go on to nine or even ten and no one really complains. One of my teachers in my history class set up a rule that the classroom door would be locked after fifteen minutes in order to combat the ‘lack of respect for other people’s time.’ Thus, class generally starts 15 minutes late. I’ve learned that to be happy in Colombia, and perhaps to be happy in general, one should live in the moment. I’ve learned to go with the flow and enjoy the present, and not be too fussed if plans get delayed, cancelled or extended.

Playa Blanca

  1. Warm Greetings and Exquisite Manners

Many Colombians have very good social skills and charming manners. They are very polite and seem to know how to put a smile on your face. Friends will greet you warmly, ask you how well you slept, woke up and got here, and ask how was your week, your day, and your morning, and may often farewell you with hugs, kisses and regret.  This is something I hope to pick up during my stay here.

  1. The best dancers in the world are probably in Colombia

Colombians dance. Especially the ones from the coast. And there is a lot of coast in Colombia. Namely, it has the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic, and the Pacific Ocean. Here in Colombia, they dance salsa, cumbia, twerk, and other indescribable and amazing dances. The girls from the coast are gorgeous and move like there is no tomorrow. I’ve also had the chance to meet some musicians from Choco who create their own music, DJ, play the sax and sing and dance.

Orientation Day at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

  1. Street Smarts

Unfortunately, it is not advisable to walk around the streets or cruise in public transport with phone in hand, scrolling through Facebook or texting. I also have a friend from Mexico who will keep a hand behind her back resting on her backpack, when walking through areas she calls ‘feo’ (ugly). In addition, taking photos and videos in some parts of the country is not so easy. But really it’s not too bad, in most parts.

  1. Colombian and Mexican Slang

I’ve learnt many fun words from both Colombia and Mexico that make learning Spanish fun and dynamic (Mexico is a big country with lots of people, and there are many Mexican exchange students here in la Javeriana). Not all can be written here but some are: ‘parchar’ meaning to hang out and chat, ‘echar la pola’ meaning to have a beer, ‘qué pedo’ which has many different meanings, and ‘retacar’ meaning to flirt. Also, if you can’t pronounce the double ‘r’ trill in Spanish, don’t fret too much, as many Bolivians can’t either.