New teachers welcome Paisa culture


Tomas Galeano

Alisha Pearl Class

Looking out the window while the plane is about to land, you may see the fully coated mountains like green cotton. The famous Aburra Valley welcomes tourists with extraordinary weather. Excitingly you may enjoy the natural views all the way down from the airport into the city. Regardless if you speak the language or not, people will smile and offer all kinds of things. The TCS HR team welcomes the new teachers and makes sure they get home safe and have a proper setup. This first week is all about settling in, choosing your furniture, getting a phone line, opening up a bank account, and signing up for health insurance. 

International educators are inspired by traveling and living in different cultures. More than the salary, teachers decide to try Medellín for the cultural experience, such as different types of weather and landscapes, the music, and culture all attract international teachers into the city. Usually people in their late 20’s or mid 30’s, decide to explore Medellín accompanied by the 2-year contract as the opening door to staying for decades. Among the institutions that allow this, TCS is a leader in bringing expats into the city. 

“I love Medellin, I think it’s an awesome city. There’s so much to do, starting from just going to dance salsa, or hiking and camping or like biking around. Language exchanges are also something that I enjoy a lot, the fact the city has so much to offer me is so exciting,” Alisha Pearl, MS Math teacher, said.

One of the things many expats love about Medellín is the opportunity to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors. The city has a mild climate and is surrounded by natural landscapes, including the Andes Mountains and numerous parks and green spaces for example La Uva, parque de los pies descalzos, and parque piedras blancas. This makes it a great place for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and running. 

“My favorite thing about Colombia is the Andes Mountains for sure. I Like the mountains. The nature here is amazing. I do a lot of trail races and, and just running in the mountains is amazing. Like this weekend; I have an 80 km trail race, and I’m so excited to just be running through it,” Gurveer Brar, AP Physics Teacher, said.

Medellín is also known for its rich culture and vibrant arts scene. The city is home to a number of museums, galleries, and cultural centers like Medellin Modern Art Museum, Museum of Antioquia, El Castillo Museum and Gardens, where they can learn about the history and traditions of the region. Also, a big surprise when it’s time to meet the people. 

According to Gurveer Brar, Colombians are just so grateful with the visitors, and warm and welcoming people can be around the city. This helps the teachers to know Medellin better, it also comforts them and helps them accommodate faster. The city has a vibrant culture and many opportunities for entertainment. It can be tempting to spend all your time exploring the city and enjoying its attractions for instance Parque Arvi, Parque Explora, and the Comuna 13. it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance and make time for your personal obligations and responsibilities.

“So far in Medellín, everybody has been very warm and kind with their smiles everywhere and it’s a very welcoming city,” Brar said.

Expats also enjoy Medellin’s food offer which is more diverse and plentiful than in other countries. For instance, Gurveer and Rosa like the typical paisa dish Bandeja Paisa or fríjoles, while also having the opportunity to try international flavors nearby in Provenza or Merca organico.

“There’s a lot more food. I come from a very small town, and so there’s not a lot of variety, and there’s like amazing food because I live in el Poblado. There’s an amazing Indian, really good bandeja paisa, and there’s a really amazing ramen place. Also, breakfast is huge here,” Rosa Marshall, 1st Grade Teacher, said.

Although the experiences of the teachers are mostly positive, some have had to face challenges while living here; one of them being the noticeable amount of pollution in the city. Many new teachers practice sports or physical activities, like biking, hiking, and running which are negatively impacted by the low air quality. Another challenge for some is surviving in a Spanish-speaking country. In contrast with other Hispanic cities, Medellín has a very low rate of bilingual population. This makes it hard for language learners to face everyday chores like going grocery shopping, paying bills, or even grabbing a cab.

“Like, when I’m biking, I definitely see a field of pollution when I’m going up Palmas. We’re going up on this, but when the trucks come by, and they’re just like, and it’s all my face, but that’s also part of living in Medellin” Brar said.

Despite the challenges, many teachers are happy so far with their experience in Colombia and recommend others to come and get out of their comfort zone.

“Everyone I talked to who had come to Colombia was like, ‘Colombia is amazing’, ‘you should go to Colombia’. It’s so cool.’ So I got a lot of recommendations to come to Colombia, and so I just applied to schools and, this is where I ended up,” Marshall said.