Looking back, on the brink of another semester in Colombia, what I remember most are the friends that were by my side during my time in Colombia. They have made me feel at home despite being so far away from my country.

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I was extremely lucky to have met the most kind and caring people to share the exchange experience. Carla who is wise and beautiful and taught us that ‘​viajar es sufrir’, Carola who takes amazing photos and welcomed me into her family, Luis who became like a brother to me and claimed he teased me so that I would miss him and visit him in Mexico, Chucho who always stayed by my side and cheered me on, Rodrigo, a true gentleman who introduced us to champeta, Nat, the sweetest girl that always greets you with a smile, Matt the guy from Brisbane that everyone loves, Marcos who you can always go to for a chat and has the funniest YouTube channel, and Julián who shared all of his Korean food with me – have made this semester one of the best times of my life and saying goodbye to them was the hardest farewell.  Also, I cannot imagine what this semester would have been like without Juanse, the house clown that always makes me laugh, Isaac who is cold on the outside but has a warm heart, and Mafe who was always there to help me out and is up for anything.

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From horseback riding amongst the tallest palm trees in the world, to searching for a place to sleep in Villa de Leyva, to going out for movies and breakfasts and lunches, to exploring the gorgeous Christmas lights of Medellin and the Day of the Candles in Bucaramanga, to learning about each other’s cultures and customs, we’ve shared so many happy times together. Although it is hard to put in words just how special they are, these people have become irreplaceable and I feel extremely blessed to have been surrounded by such wonderful friends and to have so many happy memories that I will keep with me forever.

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During our last few days together, we exchanged Christmas gifts and reminisced about our first impressions of each other, knowing that soon we would have to say goodbye for the time being. Our farewell dinner was a happy night with lots of smiles and yummy food and a feeling of gratitude for the special friendships formed. I had the fortune of spending Christmas in La Paz with Carola and her lovely family, which was when she told me about how before boarding her flight home to Bolivia, she was crying while the customs officers meticulously opened and searched her luggage. A feeling I understood all too well after having to part from people I had grown so close to. Now, despite the distance, we know that we have friends to count on in different corners of the world. Although their absence hits hard, I feel grateful to have met such wonderful people, and hope to see them again in the future.

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