Things to know before Teaching English in Colombia
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Colombia is a diverse country which over the last 20 years has rapidly developed, and continues to develop, into a major economy in South America. Colombia’s capital Bogota is developing into a Latin American business hub with lots of multinational companies establishing themselves within the city and in Colombia’s second biggest city Medellin. Colombia has a high demand for English teachers within both schools and institutions, and employ people from around the world to live and start teaching English in Colombia.
WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE TO LIVE IN COLOMBIA?
Living in the country is a unique, cultural and life-changing experience. Bogota is a very big city located high in the mountains; its year round climate averages 18 degrees celsius which is ideal for teachers who prefer cooler climates. Bogota covers a large area with a high number of individual neighbourhoods: each neighbourhood feels like its own town with neighbourhoods varying greatly in their infrastructures and employment opportunities.
Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city and is located at a lower altitude than the capital giving it a slightly warmer climate (it is known for being “the city of eternal spring”). The urban development of the city has created great transport links in the city, making it easy to travel from one place to the other. It is also less populated than the capital and subsequently less crowded.
Colombia has a very unpredictable climate: in Bogota the weather can change dramatically within an hour. Colombia has two rainy seasons a year, but anything can happen. When teaching English in Colombia rain wear is required whenever leaving the house, even if it’s as simple as an umbrella in your backpack. You can arrive at a class and the weather is beautifully sunny and warm, and upon leaving discover it’s stormy and raining heavily.
Colombians have a somewhat relaxed pace of life compared to people in other cities such as New York City or London. Bogota has an extensive bus transportation system that, connected by smaller buses, reaches the majority of the city. Bogota’s traffic is insane: with over 10 million people living in the city the roads and buses can become incredibly crowded in rush hour times. Living in Bogota you learn to expect delays, leave early for every trip to avoid being late, and you get used to being squashed. Delays also come in the form of delayed students; classes start on the hour and students will get delayed by traffic or work commitments. While being late because of delays is possible you also have to be prepared that students sometimes just won’t come to classes. Whilst teaching English in Colombia to adult students, you have to expect that not everyone will come to every class as people will have commitments, events, travel problems, and other unexpected issues.
ENJOY THE DELICIOUS FRUITS:
Colombia’s climate provides the perfect conditions for growing crops year round, especially fruits and vegetables. Colombian cuisine tends to be healthier than in other countries with fresh produce being a big part of the diet. While teaching English in Colombia expect to see fruits stalls on the street selling fresh juices and containers of chopped fruits. There will be a large variety of fruits you have never seen or heard of before and very little frozen food in supermarkets.
EXPECT TO PARTY AND PLAY TEJO:
The majority of Colombians enjoy social events with friends and family, whether it’s going out for drinks after work or getting invited to a finca outside of the city. Music runs deep through Colombian’s blood: they love to dance, salsa and champeta to a variety of music. Many of Colombia’s cities have a variety of small local bars to big unique clubs. If dancing isn’t your thing, Colombia’s national sport, Tejo, is definitely worth a try. Tejo is a sport which combines an iron puck, a clay filled box and an explosion. The object of the game is to throw the iron puck at the clay filled box, which has a hollow pipe in the middle of it with gun powder filled triangle pieces on top. The closest puck to the circle wins and extra points are awarded if the puck lands inside the circle or hits it (which causes an explosion). While teaching English in Colombia expect to experience tejo and drink Aguardiente.
ENJOY COLOMBIA’S LANDSCAPES:
Colombia is a biodiverse country with Caribbean beaches, a Pacific coastline, the Andes mountain range, endless countryside landscapes, the Amazon rainforest, sandy deserts, flat plains, and lively cities. You could travel around constantly for over 6 months and not experience everything it has to offer. Colombia’s magic is in its 51 National Parks and natural areas; from coral reefs to natural wonders each park has something amazing to offer. You can trek to see waterfalls or Colombia’s National Tree, the Wax Palm. While teaching English in Colombia take the opportunity to see the country and visit unique places.
There are lots of new experiences and exciting things on offer for people teaching English in Colombia.
Written by: Anny Wooldridge