Adjusting to Paisa Life

In all honesty, I had a really difficult time writing this blog post.  I was experiencing writer’s block to the extreme – something I haven’t had yet while doing this blog.  I’m thinking, feeling, experiencing, doing, seeing, hearing (I could name all of the five senses) so many things that I just didn’t know where to begin or how to angle this post.   So with the advice of my best friend Al, I just started free writing all of those thoughts, feelings, and experiences and I came to a conclusion about this past week.

If I had to describe the past week of our life here in one word, it would be “adjustment”.  I think it has been hard for me to admit to myself that my “spirit doesn’t feel quite gold” yet because I still feel like the new girl at school.  I don’t know anyone, I don’t really know my way around yet, I’m still trying to figure out how things work (buses, taxis, being seated in a restaurant), I dress and look differently, my Spanish language skills aren’t as good as they once were, and I’m really missing my friends back home.

Being in Medellin has been different than most other traveling I’ve done (besides when I studied abroad in Spain and volunteered Nepal but those were both done through programs) because knowing you are going to be in one city, one apartment, basically one place for more than just a few days brings with it a different mindset.  Over the past 6 years, my traveling has consisted of spending a week or two in one country, and at most maybe 1-3 days for each city or destination within that country.  With that kind of travel, there has been no big need for me to fully adjust to the country, the culture, memorize how to convert the money, find the cheapest transportation and dining options, battle homesickness, etc.  I’m usually more focused on seeing and experiencing as much as possible within the short time frame that I have.  During these trips, I have been an outsider looking in and okay with it.

This time, because we will be in Medellin for one month, Colombia for probably two months, and South America for hopefully a year; there is more of a need for Dan and I to alter our mindsets in order to become more accustomed to living in another country and continent, watching our budget, missing our family and friends, and essentially changing our entire lifestyle.  I knew this was going to be the case as I’ve experienced it before and I welcome the challenge because it is what I want.  Putting myself out there, getting out of my comfort zone, and seeing the world unfortunately requires this level of discomfort.  It is tough to do something like this but I know the reward is there because I can already feel it everyday with new and different moments of happiness.  It is just going to take some time before I’m not the outsider looking in but feeling in some way like I fit in.

Here are some moments of happiness that I’ve been experiencing while adjusting to my new Paisa life:

  1. Waking up and remembering and realizing that I’M IN MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA.
  2. Seeing the view from our apartment window.
  3. Never having to wear warm clothes because the weather is perfect here.
  4. Hearing Spanish and understanding it and seeing Dan do the same.
  5. Watching and cheering on the Colombian soccer team.
  6. Reading, reading, reading, and more reading.  I have so much time to read!
  7. Ciclovia – lanes on the main road are shut down for 6 hours on Sundays for running, biking, walking.
  8. Seeing new parts of the city – Pueblo Paisa, Laureles neighborhood, el Centro.
  9. Sampling Colombian cuisine – Arepa, Mondongo, Colombian beer.
  10. Planning day trips and other ways to explore the city.
  11. Spending more time with Dan than I think we’ve ever spent together!
Building moments of happiness.
Building moments of happiness.

2 thoughts on “Adjusting to Paisa Life

  1. Great post, Christie! I wonder when your mindset will really start to shift. It probably still really feels like vacation, but I wonder if you’ll feel like you “live” at the 2 week mark or after that!


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