Colombia Travel Guides

30 Tips When Arriving in Medellin

After 4.5 months living in Medellin, the things that originally caught me off guard became my comforts of home. I had time to leisurely acclimate to my surroundings, but for those arriving for a quick trip, these things may feel surprising all at once. Hopefully the tips I accrued will help you feel like a local in no time!

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Life Lessons

Love Takes Many Shapes

Until last year, I believed my partner was the only person on the planet who would make me feel complete and that our love, the bedrock of my life, would always be consistently the same. Last May, everything I knew about love shifted when we decided to separate. After 11 years depending on the stability of this connection, I was devastated to imagine life without it. Now that I’ve settled into this once unimaginable world, I see that love can take many shapes and an old love can even transform into something else entirely.

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Life Lessons Spanish

How Pursuing Spanish is Giving Me Direction

It has now become clear to me that while my environment growing up in Texas first enabled me to learn Spanish, it has been my own deep driving desire that has pushed me to find more of it over the years. I elected to take Spanish in middle school, high school, and then college; I’ve taken many trips to use the language abroad and now I’ve chosen to spend this year immersed in it around the world. Since my affection for Spanish has been a constant throughout my life, I never really noticed how significant of a role it’s played. It was when I realized its importance that I decided to turn my curiosity into a priority. Now instead of it being an accessory to my life, pursuing Spanish is actually shaping my life.

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Portugal Travel Guides

The Petite Guide to Lisbon

I was struck by three observations when I took my first steps in Lisbon last September – the actual summer heat which I had forgotten existed while living in San Francisco, the gorgeous tiles covering the exteriors of homes as if the houses had been turned inside-out, and the sidewalks made of stones making it almost impossible to roll my suitcase on the sloping streets between the metro stop and my hotel.

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Nomadic Living

My Nomadic Journey Actually Began 10 Years Ago

“Where are you from?” the waiter asked in Spanish. We were inside of a small cafe overlooking a quiet, sunny plaza in the village of Ciutadella de Menorca, the least developed of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, where everyday life moves slowly and flying to Barcelona is a long trip for a local. I watched his look of curiosity turn to astonishment. “California is very, very far away,” he said uneasily as if I should be concerned, as if he was concerned for me. “Yes, yes, I know, it’s very far away,” I responded with ease.

I’ve become so familiar with navigating new places that it feels more natural than sitting still in the same place I already know. While California was my most recent home base, my “home” has been redefined over and over again. I’ve been practicing detachment from places for the past decade as I’ve packed, purged and reset each time I moved around the U.S. and the world. And now, for the first time in my life there isn’t one particular place that feels like home, not even San Francisco where my dearest friends and possessions live. Perhaps it is why, as I begin this new chapter of my life, I’ve chosen the most comfortable setting I know – being far, far away.

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Life Lessons Spanish

6 Ways to Practice a Language

Taking a class is the best way to learn a new language but once you get to a certain point, the only way to advance is to practice speaking. Everyday phrases are what make conversation sound natural and these are what you pick up in conversation, not in textbooks. My advice – ditch the Duolingo app and practice speaking with other humans because the only way to get better at speaking is to speak!

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Life Lessons Nomadic Living

Living in Marrakesh Taught Me About My Comfort Zone

As I boarded my flight out of Marrakesh, I felt a sense of comfort and relief I didn’t think was possible on an airplane, but compared to the month prior, the quiet, familiar environment put me at ease as I sunk into my seat. I thought I had broken free from all comfort zones when I left everything behind in San Francisco last September. I packed light, let go of expectations and was ready to travel anywhere. Little did I realize there is another comfort zone that we carry with us.

We’re all conditioned by the environment we grew up in and these lifestyle expectations come along for the journey. I don’t mean needing to stay in a 5-star hotel vs a 3-star hotel, I mean growing up in a developed country with drinkable tap water, roads that separate cars from people or the freedom to show affection in public. There are many elements of our environment that we take for granted until we feel their absence. I had never lived in a place as drastically different as Marrakesh. Not only did I have culture shock but I was surprised to see how the environment weakened me – how it clouded my mind, put me on guard and prevented me from regular everyday productivity.

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