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The Wandering Dropout

After trying really hard to find something useful to be good at, it looks like my calling in life is to travel and eat

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Adventure

Say Whaaaat!? Cross-Cultural Dating Dilemmas

Or: Could you please explain that one more time, in simpler Spanish, so I can make sure I’m justified in wanting to hit you right now..? 

Culture

In the grand scheme of things I’d hardly say I’m used to only existing within one culture.

I was raised within a multi-cultural, globally-dispersed family, in one of the most diverse boroughs of one of the most diverse cities in the world. I learnt to flirt, to date, and to love under the influence of, amongst others, Brits, Nigerians, Jamaicans and Indians – cultures that are hugely different in their approaches to life, dating, sex and love.

My ‘dating history’ includes one of the first Northerners I’d ever come across (ok, its hardly exotic, but I’d barely been past the North circular..), a Jewish boyfriend, and most recently a NZ-raised Egyptian whose parents really didn’t like that I wasn’t a Coptic Christian. Plus various little things across South America and in Nigeria that required understanding and compromise.

Because of this I always thought I’d have no problem properly dating ‘cross-culturally’. That it’s dangerous to make assumptions when dealing with anybody’s feelings, let alone someone whose whole grounding and background is different to yours. To always try and remember that something I find cruelly personal might have just been a throwaway comment, with no offence meant, and to not focus on it.

I never thought I’d have such a confusing and stressful time dating in Colombia. How wrong I was.  Continue reading “Say Whaaaat!? Cross-Cultural Dating Dilemmas”

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Surviving Culture Shock

¿Estás Ama‎ñada? It’s a question I’ve been asked countless times while in Colombia.

‘Ama‎ñada’ is essentially a very local way of saying ‘settled in’ – and finally, when I smile and nod enthusiastically in response, I am being completely honest.

Because I really struggled with settling into my placement city when I first got here. Continue reading “Surviving Culture Shock”

What A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago, I was on the brink of my new life in New Zealand.

I was flying towards someone I’d fallen crazily in love with, despite (because of?) the ridiculous distance separating us.

It turned out that I was in love with a bit of a dream. An illusion. Something I’d convinced myself was real because I wanted to believe in it so badly. 

So what has changed in a year?

Well, now I’m in Colombia. I’m an English teacher. I have a life here, Colombian friends, a routine that includes hilarious zumba classes and almost-daily siestas in 42ºC heat.

Sometimes, I still miss my NZ boy. I miss the way he would look at me when he thought I wasn’t looking, how he loved to surprise me, and the life we settled into together.

Lying in the sunshine with bubble tea and salsa, wandering round food markets and working our way through the offerings, and popping out for last-minute hot toddies on cold Christchurch evenings, became the daily happinesses that I shared with him.

I miss what I thought we would become. Having someone to plan trips with, to dream about travelling the world in a ramshackle caravan (complete with scrappy dog) with, and to argue over India-vs-China with as if it was really going to happen.

But most of the time, I’m good without him. My future no longer revolves around someone who doesn’t really want to play a starring role in it.

And it’s terrifying, because I have to actually work out for myself what I want to do next. Where I want to be, how I want to support myself, and what kind of life I want to build up from here on.

But it’s so incredibly exhilarating, because it’s all down to me. 

Last September, I was running towards a guy, and towards a dream. It was amazing, I’ll never regret it, but it ended.

And then I had to rethink everything, because everything involved him. But now? Well, now I am free to wander, explore, and go wherever my restless feet take me.

I have no idea where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing come January 2017, but at least I know I’ll be doing it 100% for me.

Come Teach With Me?

 

Many people on here talk about wanting to travel more long-term and really get to know somewhere.. To live abroad and have the chance to explore a new country.

A country with the most public holidays in the world..

Well here’s an idea!

I’m currently working as an English Teaching Fellow (essentially like an English assistant / co-teacher) on a Colombian government-run programme – and they’re recruiting for more people interested in starting either in January or on 10th September.

It’s decently paid, especially for South America where paid English teaching is more difficult to find, very well supported, and experience teaching English is appreciated but not absolutely necessary so it could be a good first experience for people.

So.. why not apply? It’s an incredible experience. Really tough at times, but so rewarding when you see something click behind eyes that have never believed that they might actually understand English.

Oh, and you’d be in Colombia, meaning that spending the infinite long weekends drinking piña coladas on tropical beaches, climbing mountains, tubing down rivers, or relaxing in hot springs is very much doable 🙂

I’ll leave you with some photos of things I’ve got up to while here:

Please feel free to message me for more personal insights and any advice! 

* A sneaky request: if you put me as the person who referred you (Maija Sequeira) then I get brownie points, which would be great as I want to work with them next year!

Tayrona: Helloooo Paradise

Imagine endless yellow-sanded beaches being lapped at by sparkling blue waves. Add some lush, green jungle rising from the sea to eventually end in the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range – the world’s closest-to-the-sea mountain range. Continue reading “Tayrona: Helloooo Paradise”

Santa Marta: The (Unpolished) Jewel of the Caribbean

So, everyone knows that Cartagena is beautiful. The old city is gorgeous. There is cool street art, great food, and a bazillion tourists milling around taking photos of colourful colonial houses dripping in climbing flowers for good reason.

But you know what? It’s definitely not my favourite stop along the Caribbean coastline of Colombia. That honour, without a doubt, goes to Santa Marta. Continue reading “Santa Marta: The (Unpolished) Jewel of the Caribbean”

Blogging Breaks

I realised today I haven’t even attempted to blog in over a month, the longest time since I made this blog over a year ago. Oops.

Actually, it coincided with me having probably the most exciting break of my time in Colombia – 3 weeks of pure, backpacker-style travelling after living like a local for so long. 

Ironically it also coincided with my phone exploding in a mess of over-heated metal (thank you, Girardot, and please spare my laptop) and my camera disappearing from the bedroom of a friend’s flat so my photos of the trip are severely limited to what I can pilch off others.

Travel blogging at its finest.

So keep your eyes peeled for some peeks at backpacker life on the Caribbean coast of Colombia (hint: think lots of ridiculously beautiful beaches, piña coladas, happy brownies and sun-drenched days full of happiness) and a couple of more dodgy updates from the less wholesome streets of Medellín.

TEFL in Colombia: Expectations vs Reality

Picture teaching English in a public high school in Colombia. What do you imagine?

A tough, tiring and difficult morning’s work, for sure. But then?

Afternoons spent lying on Caribbean beaches..? Walks to school down remote Amazonian footpaths..? Cramming in some lesson planning before a night of passion-filled salsa..? Continue reading “TEFL in Colombia: Expectations vs Reality”

Karangahake Gorge: mines, railways and tunnels galore

Oh Karangahake, you’re bloody gorge-ous! 

Just at the bottom of the Coromandel peninsula by the wee town of Waihi – and excitingly near home of Lemon and Paeroa – lies one of my favourite discoveries of my entire North Island road trip: the incredible Karangahake Gorge. Continue reading “Karangahake Gorge: mines, railways and tunnels galore”

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