As different as the cardinal points, it’s time to tell the story of four independent women with different backgrounds who are now experiencing the adventure of living in Medellin.
Four roads, four women, four lives… All connected in one city: Medellin. The city has a certain charm that people can’t run away from. For some it is the weather, others the culture, the music, the mountains, the kindness of paisas, the cost of living, the peace of living, how friendly the city is with pets where you can just find a lot of places where your furry friend is more than welcome, the places for kids and families to hang out, the beauty of men and women and who knows how long this list can go on. There’s a reason – or many reasons- for people to come from other countries and find themselves in Medellin.
I’ll start by writing a bit about these beautiful women who shared with me where they came from, why they are here, the process of adapting to the city and what do they think about safety and opportunities for women here. The names of these ladies? Anju, Diana, Nataly, and Ann. No last names or ages -I got your back girls – Let’s keep it informal.
Anju (Canada): When you see her, the last thing you think of is that she’s from Canada. Her lovely eyes tell the story of a Japanese heritage, but she was born in Montreal. Fun and with a happy vibe around her, Anju traveled a lot but she liked Colombia since she came here in 2008. Exactly ten years later, when she came back for 5 days last January, she realized how much the city changed and how big the progressing wave was getting. She was already looking for a place to live in Latin America but she decided to be part of the moment of change Colombia is experiencing and she wanted to start in Medellin. “Medellin seems to me like a vibrant city in the middle of an evolution so it’s something that motivates me,” she said.
Besides being concerned about the activists, she thinks that generally, Medellin is calm to walk around for a foreign woman.
Diana (Colombia): Diana is the only paisa in the group, but one of the things that’s interesting about her is that she lived in Australia for 8 years and in Thailand for 9 months. Her reason to return was family and the weather, plus the fact that with her savings from her life overseas, she could invest in real estate here. For Diana life is simpler here because she has her family and friends close to her which made her adapting process quite easier, especially because she also used to travel here every year. She’s hoping to stay in her hometown around 4 years and then go back to Australia so her 11 years old son can finish school there and experience a bit of the place she also called home for so long.
She thinks that Medellin has evolved a lot and that some of the barrios are very pretty. When it comes to safety she feels there’s still work to do to educate and help poor people, some of them being part of the problem in this matter. However, the cameras and security systems have decreased crime levels. She also says that Sabaneta, where she lives, is a safe place.
Speaking of opportunities for women, Diana thinks there are opportunities and that any woman can apply for executive positions without discrimination, saying that women here are “muy berracas para trabajar” (tough workers) and that the most important thing is finding someone who gives you the opportunity to work, especially to those who just graduated and those trying to promote themselves in the company. She says that working here is very competitive so each person should try to get a better education in order to be more prepared and progress in their work field.
Nataly (United States): Born in New York, Nataly (just like Diana) is also linked by her family to Medellin. Her parents are Colombians and she came to the city 5 years ago after coming with the idea of a sabbatical. The exchange rate and knowing the area were also important to decide to stay in the city. In her case, adapting was very hard because of the cultural shock and she confesses that after all this time she’s still adapting in some situations, but little by little she’s made this place her home and has found the perfect balance.
The changes the city have been through for a couple years have helped open the doors of opportunities for many people and even though it can be a little bit basic for some, for others might be a nice way to make lemonade –when life gives you lemons…- Still, Nataly thinks that the city offers the chance to create new businesses based on how easy getting papers in order and the whole process is compared to other countries. She also says that it definitely helps if you make money in a strong currency or work remotely because you can experience the city in a whole different way.
Ann (Venezuela): I was born in Chacao, which technically and geographically is Miranda State, but culturally is Caracas, so yes, I’m caraqueña –Oh yes, that Ann is also me -. Now as Venezuelan my reason to come here is different. I actually consider myself fortunate and I’m very thankful for the opportunities I got.
I first came here to visit my Venezuelan family for 6 days before flying to Mexico, but exactly 10 minutes before leaving to the airport my PEP (a special permission to legally live and work here for two years) was approved, so I saw that as a sign and after month and a half in Mexico, I decided to give Medellin a try. I’ve been here for 7 months now and I’m definitely more adapted. In the beginning, it was quite hard but now I’m really enjoying it. The vibe of the city, how welcoming and nice the paisas have been to me and all the people I’ve met made me like this city.
In terms of safety, of course, I feel safer here. Sadly because of the situation in my country, I find myself doing things that I can’t back home, which is nice, though I have to admit I still get paranoid so I surely don’t give papaya. When it comes to working I’m actually very lucky since I came here with work. I’m a freelance journalist so I work from wherever I can get a nice Internet connection. Here, besides my official job –as I call it- with a Brazilian business magazine, I also work for well… Welcome to Medellin! Plus any other projects I can work on. So when it comes to work opportunities I was grateful to meet two great men that help me get more experience in my field here: Alan and Joseph. Seriously, thank you, guys!
In conclusion: Medellin has grown and became an attractive city whose doors are more open to foreigners than before, it’s also safe for women –still ladies always be careful no matter where in the world you are- and it does have job opportunities, for some it might not be their dream job, for others it might be exactly what they needed. The city offers nice places to have fun and explore, beautiful mountains to hike, kind and friendly people and the chance to dive into a new job experience. Oh and there’s a Facebook group only for women here and the ladies are very helpful and super kind. Come meet the awesome women here and enjoy Medellin!