August brings the famous “Feria de las Flores” (or “Flower Festival”) to the city of Medellin. While you will find a couple of events which are rather flower-heavy, most are not. Instead, music, celebration and fun take centre stage, all washed down with a healthy serving of “guaro” (or “aguardiente”), the favoured local tipple.
There’s no better way to practice Spanish than by interacting with the language in real-life situations. Envigado, a municipality just south of Medellín, is the perfect place to do just that — as Avalon from the Colombia Immersion Spanish school reports in this guest post.
Becoming fluent in Spanish, as we all know, requires more than just hitting the books. You have to get out there and start having proper conversations with real live people. Even in a country where locals are as friendly as Colombia, getting into lengthy chats to practice your Spanish can be a difficult business, especially in the early stages of learning.
As you settle into your time in Colombia, you’ll most likely find local cultural values and social customs to be at once familiar, and refreshingly different, from what you’re used to back home. Colombian culture contains plenty of contradictions, which means it’s difficult at first to get a coherent picture of what life in the country is really like. But then figuring all this out is part of what makes the place so enjoyable.
Medellin today has become something of a mecca for Spanish-language students, retirees, remote workers and digital nomads alike. The weather is great, locals friendly, nightlife lively and the prices still fairly competitive. The availability of decent internet, infrastructure and healthcare have all helped make living in the city a feasible option for people from all walks of life.
Colombians do enjoy a good bit of exaggeration. Not seen a friend for a week or two? “I’ve not seen you in like a thousand years!” (“hace como mil años que no te veo”), a local will most probably decry. Pick up a bargain in the sales, meanwhile, and our Colombian friends are just as likely to describe their purchase as “given away” (“regalado”) as they are to say that it was merely cheap.
I often receive messages from readers of this blog, covering various aspects of studying Spanish in Colombia: from logistical questions about visas, costs and the availability of Spanish schools in the country; right through to queries about how to use specific bits of slang or idiomatic expressions. I’m publishing here a selection of a few recent questions I’ve received about learning and studying Spanish in Colombia.
Often has it been said that the best way to improve in a foreign tongue is to start dating a local. There is, it must be said, much truth to this. Even students who, in the classroom, can barely be bothered to string together a coherent sentence, suddenly have boundless enthusiasm for improving their language skills as soon as they chat to a guy or girl they like.