I arrived a bit scared. You hear all those things about danger in Colombia and Medellin itself. I took a bus from the airport and later UBER to the neighbourhood I was going to stay. Here my adventure with learning spanish in Medellin begun. So exciting!
Why I decided to learn Spanish?
Traveling through Mexico and Central America without knowing any Spanish was not only tough. It was also a bit sad that I don’t speak the language ALL those countries speak! I was missing a lot of nice conversation, getting to know new friends and simply interacting with people. I think this is extremely important while traveling.
Not to mention that Spanish is second most popular language in the world which makes it really worth learning! And, for probably the same reason, spanish speaking countries most of the times, speak only Spanish, english is not so popular. Without knowing Spanish, traveling in Spanish speaking countries is really hard (I know from my experience in Mexico).
Learning the language or at least a few words and greetings is also a way to appreciate locals, pay respect, show that we care. As I am trying to improve as a conscious traveler, I take it seriously. Of course, while traveling in Asia I was not learning all the languages on the way, it’s impossible. However, learning few basic sentences in a local language wasn’t a big effort but a big reward when I saw locals smiling while hearing my tries.
Why Colombia is a good place to study Spanish?
My first impression in Medellin was: WOW – I can understand some words! Colombians are known for speaking clearly without having some tricky local accent, that can make immersing very hard. What’s more, I was told that Colombians speak very slowly which is also perfect for learners. And of course, I have to admit that Colombians are such a nice and welcoming people, so easy to make friends with. You will hear them speaking all the time, having fun, going out with friends. I had the impression, that they love to celebrate life and are rarely sad or in a bad mood.
Not to mention the prices. Colombia is one of the best places to learn spanish in terms of prices. Courses are affordable, and life in Colombia is really cheap.
Medellin is a big city with lots of things to do and see. Only 30 years ago was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world, but now things changed and Medellin is full of tourists. Many expats live here, it’s a popular spot for digital nomads. You can find lovely cafes, clubs, salsa bars, all types of food you wish to find. The city is central in Colombia, easy to fly to other destinations.
Medellin is called city of eternal spring as the weather doesn’t change much throughout the year. Colombia has a few different climates, snowy peaks, desert and Caribbean heat. In Medellin it rains often, however it’s never too hot or too cold.
I chose to live in Laureles – district that is a mixture between locals and tourists with plenty of restaurants around. I loved how green it is, with a plant and trees everywhere around. I found this district not too noisy and busy, easy to walk around as it’s mostly flat with a few bicycle roads. Apart from Laureles, there is a second district with Spanish schools and lots of foreigners – El Poblado. However, it’s very touristy, more expensive and hilly. Laureles is a great balance between living in between locals, but still with plenty of foreigners to meet around.
Living in Laureles was very comfortable – walking distance to anything I need, including my Spanish school. On weekends I was trying to visit the city and the surroundings. I loved particularly the tour around Comuna 13 – district which was famous for narcotraffic group of Pablo Escobar some years ago. A “must do” is taking a metro cable – cable car which in Colombia is used as a normal mean of public transport to reach people living on the steep hills. The views from the cable car are incredible!
Apart from the city, there are some nice towns for a weekend escape like lush green Jardin, old colonial Santa Fe de Antioquia and Guatepe with famous Penol Rock view point.
How was my experience with Elefun Spanish School?
My classes started on Monday and I was super excited how it’s going to be. I was certain it’s was going to be good as Elefun Spanish School has so many good reviews. I came earlier for my introduction to the school. Welcoming was super kind, and I entered my first class with confidence. The classes were combination of fun games to learn vocabulary, practise speaking and listening spanish. However, there was also space for grammar practice, which is also essential.
Classes are held with a small number of people – maximum 5. The classrooms are cozy, and the school feels really friendly. I took the afternoon classes but I noticed more students choose the morning ones. The school also offers private classes that can be more adjusted to a student.
What I really liked about the school was a choice of after-class activities every week. They offer free online class, free class in the hostel in Medellin, evening language exchange or trips like: visiting Comuna 13, Guatepe, 3 Cruses Hike. Some Fridays there was also crazy chiva bus party – colorful party buses that go around the city and stop in a few clubs. Thanks to the outside activities, I could meet folks out of my class and have fun together. Because Elefun Spanish School is a lot of fun, indeed!
What about my progress?
Was one month enough? It’s never enough to learn a language however, I made a great progress during that time. Before starting the course, I had the experience of traveling in latin american countries and trying hard to learn words and communicate with locals. I couldn’t make a proper sentence though, didn’t know any tenses, grammar, and how to put words together. Plus, I was using language learning app called Duolingo but also learnt just the basics. When I came to Elefun Spanish School and I was asked to describe some photo or anything, I couldn’t find a word to start.
Now I feel much more confident expressing in present tense, I can talk and describe things. We also started to learn past tense and even though I can’t speak correctly yet using past tense, I have the basics, so hopefully will improve and get confidence speaking.
What’s the most important in Elefun Spanish School is that teachers encourage to speak spanish and try to express yourself no matter what – even if you are not sure about the words or correct order of words in a sentence. It’s the most important to start speaking any language. I found the classes very practical with lots of games that made us talk, talk and talk more. A bunch of notes with new vocabulary every day, made me improve faster than I thought. I am so glad I came!
I really don’t know how it’s possible this month passed so fast. I was really enjoying it and would stay for few more months to learn spanish in Medellin and have fun. I feel that I improved a lot and got much more confident with the language. My learning Spanish journey finished in Medellin, but hopefully it will still continue. I feel ready to travel around Colombia, to interact with people and use spanish on a daily basis.
If you are interested in learning Spanish in Medellin, don’t hesitate to ask questions in comments or write directly to Elefun Spanish School via Whatsapp (the best and most common way to contact in Colombia). They will surely help you with any doubts and questions.
The Bee is a nature lover and tea addict. Loves the idea of slow life and responsible traveling, constantly trying to improve to bee more eco-friendly. Appreciates old cultures and traditions, loves to immerse with locals, listen to ethnic music as well as taste regional food and drinks. Her favorite spots while traveling are family houses and street markets.