Colombia is a lively, tropical country with a booming economic center in Bogotá, the capital. It is known for its local delicacies, friendly people, and some of the most pristine beaches and turquoise waters on earth. It is an ideal location for university students and recent grads to begin their careers through internships and entry-level jobs, as Bogotá is a hub for local and international businesses alike. You can gain invaluable international experience while enjoying life in tropical South America. Whether you’re just considering a move or have already landed a job or internship, here are some things to expect when you move to Colombia.
Time is Relative
Latin Americans are known for a relaxed schedule. Time and punctuality do not matter as much as they do to residents of the United States. Colombians believe that people and relationships are more important than deadlines, which can be either refreshing or frustrating depending on the scenario. For example, if you are walking to meet up with a friend and happen to pass someone else you know on the way, it is perfectly acceptable and even expected that you stop to talk to that person even if it means you will be late to your meeting. In fact, not saying hello or taking a few minutes to catch up can even be a sign of disrespect.
When in doubt, remember to put relationships ahead of business. You will fit right in with the locals. If an acquaintance or friend is running late to an event, relax and remember that time is relative. Punctuality is just not a big deal. If you do need things to start at a specific time, you can make up for the difference by telling people to show up earlier than expected.
The official language of Colombia is Spanish. Although there is a thriving international community in Bogotá and around other parts of the country, it goes a long way to learn basic Spanish phrases. Although they make speak or understand English, the locals will appreciate it and may be more receptive if they hear you trying to practice their language. One aspect to take note of is that Colombian Spanish has its own nuances and accents that make it distinct from other dialects. Whereas most Spanish-speaking countries pronounce the letter LL as a “Y” sound, Colombians make a “J” sound. All it takes is a little bit of listening and practice to learn the lingo.
Although it has an active and dynamic economy, Colombia is still considered a developing country. If you’re moving there, it’s natural to be concerned about safety. Most Colombians are kind and sincere people, and will go out of their way to help you. As with most places, however, common sense goes a long way and certain neighborhoods should be avoided. If you do not feel comfortable choosing a place to live in Colombia by yourself, you can consult an experienced third party who can advise you on the country’s different regions and even take care of all of the logistics for you.
These are just some of the things to expect when you move to Colombia.