I made it! I have safely landed in Bogotá, Colombia and have settled into my new apartment.
So lets get those basic questions out of the way first, shall we?
The Flight / Airport Experience:
Yes, the flight was great. I slept most of the 6 hours except during my few attempts to befriend the Colombian man sitting beside me. Those attempts failed tremendously, even though I offered to share my Starbursts. He was not having any of it. Moving forward though, everyone in the airport was incredibly kind and helpful, also extremely patient as my Spanish is no where near an expert level.
What really made my airport experience great though was Camila, a girl that I met via a mutual friend and Facebook. Her and her mother were kind enough to come pick me up from the airport and take me to my apartment. Like, how amazing is that!!! Camila also filled me in on lots of information about the city to help me get around my first few days. Rule numero uno, do not wear shorts in Bogotá. While the weather here is beautiful, definitely a lot warmer than Canada right now, we are not living on the coast and thus shorts are not allowed! She claims that by the end of this year, she’ll have me fluent in Spanish and an expert Salsa dancer.
My new home is a 6 bedroom apartment, located on the top floor of the building, with great views of the streets and a terrace that is perfect for watching the sunset. Juan, my landlord, is incredible! He is welcoming, funny and I look forward to developing a friendship with him. As for roommates, right now it is just Sam and I. Sam is another exchange student from the Netherlands who I met on Facebook as well. Next week, the remainder of our roommates will join us.
The apartment is located on a major street, Carrera 7. It is central to many businesses, restaurants, bars, etc. In fact, I have a karaoke bar right beside my apartment and a grocery store a few steps away on the other side. What really blows my mind though is that the Bogotá Brewing Company is located just a 5 min walk from home! I have heard so much about this restaurant from friends back home and I cannot believe how close it is to me.
The City Itself:
Bogotá is beautiful, with a mixture of basic looking buildings that you would find in North America and traditional Colombian architecture. The streets are busy, the bus system has about 5 different coloured buses in a variety of sizes. Getting to school in a couple weeks will definitely be an adventure. There are tons of motorbikes, which people like to drive up on the sidewalks. I have also noticed an abundance of police officers outside local businesses at the later hours as a safety precaution. While I’m continuously told to “not be stupid,” based on a variety of factors, I feel very safe where I am.
The biggest struggle I have faced so far is understanding the money. The exchange between Canadian dollars is tremendous. 2.000 COP (dos mil pesos) is approximately $1 CAD. But like the nerd I am, I researched and can tell you the life history of the figure on each of the bills themselves.