I was excited to start living in this town or well the south of it because I had heard such good things about it. When teaching in Australia, I had many Colombian students, who, when I asked them, recommended this city to me. With the program I am participating in, Greenheart Travel, I couldn’t choose the location but I could put a preference, where I wrote Medellin. Luckily, a few weeks before arriving in Colombia, I got sent the place I would be teaching in, which was a town called Caldas in the south of Medellin. It’s a small town focusing on agriculture and horses. It would be different living in a town rather than a big city but I was super close to Medellin and I soon found out that it was only a bus journey away to the metro.
I had booked a Airbnb place in the countryside of Caldas for the first few nights while finding a more permanent place to live. After being here a day, I realised it would be best to live in Sabaneta in the south of Medellin, which has a metro station and I could easily get a bus to work. It was really to find a room from social media adverts and renting websites. I visited a few places before deciding to live with a Colombian couple in a flat, which was modern plus I would have my own bathroom. They were super nice and with my limited Spanish and their limited English plus a little bit of Google translate, we could communicate with each other.
Unfortunately, a week later, I found out that my SENA centre had changed from being in Caldas to being in Castilla in the north of Medellin. This was due to the centre in Caldas not being prepared for me to start plus they mainly had virtual classes which would be pointless for me. I had found out through the grapevine that the previous person was not happy here as they were used as a supply teacher so they didn’t have a proper schedule.
As I lived in the south, it would take me over one hour and a half on the metro and the bus to get to work. This was definitely not ideal especially when I had early classes. I couldn’t move accommodation as I had paid for a month but after doing the commute, I knew I needed to find a new house. So the search began again at the end of my first month, where I found a huge house with seven bedrooms, a kitchen, two living room and bathrooms in Floresta, a lovely area of Medellin more in the west. At least the commute was an hour so not too bad. I had to decide whether to live more in the north by the university to have a shorter commute or in a lovely area where my friends also lived. I decided I would cope with the longer commute, which in the long term was the best idea, due to living with amazing housemate from around the world and classes being constantly cancelled.
During my third week, after complications with the change of my centre, I had a meeting at my school with my co-teachers. I was slightly nervous about meeting them and didn’t really know what to expect from the meeting. I was accompanied by my regional co-ordinator, who set up the meeting. I had heard from other volunteer that some of their mentors or teachers didn’t actually speak English well even though they were English teachers. I was worried about this as I had a non-existent knowledge of Spanish. I had nothing to worry about in my meeting; they showed me around the centre, went through logistics, expectations as well as starting to figure out a timetable for me. My co-teachers and mentor were lovely, where their English was great. Now to actually start class and teaching again after five months of no teaching.