Chris: See Colombia Travel
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Colombia, etc.
My name is Chris Bell, I'm from Shrewsbury in England, and I first moved to Colombia in 2011 for a year to teach English. I have been back since February 2014, working as the editor of See Colombia Travel blog.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I loved travelling around the country when I first moved here, and was blown away by the contrast between what people's perceptions are of Colombia and the reality. I had the chance to start blogging for See Colombia and was happy to take it, mainly in order to share my love for the country and its people, and try to show a more positive side to Colombia.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
- There have been a few; when Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away, we honored him with a post about the music that sound tracked his colorful life. It was nice to honor someone so full of life with an upbeat post, nothing morbid!
- I'm also fond of a piece about whether it is safe for your parents to visit you in Colombia as it's exactly the kind of post I got into blogging to write.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Colombia differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
It's like chalk and cheese in most ways! The atmosphere, the attitude to life, the music...it's all totally unique in my opinion. I struggled to get used to Colombian's definition of 'on time' and the attitude towards queuing (I am English!); but everything bad was a minor little bump. Having already lived in Venezuela previously for a year the culture shock was minimum to be honest, and Colombian's are such positive people that it's hard to be alone here.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Colombia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I came pretty prepared, having had prior expat experience. I would have tried to make more initial contact with Facebook groups of expats and emigrants to Colombia, just to have a group of people to meet and socialize with right of the plane.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
There have been a few; one highlight was being interviewed for a TV segment by Caracol Internacional all about the blog. It was pretty surreal seeing myself up on the screen talking about Colombia - one of those 'as if that would happen to me?!' experiences.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Colombia?
Research the country before you come; know the neighborhoods you want to live in in advance, and make contact with other expats in the country beforehand, they can provide invaluable assistance in helping you settle in more easily.
How is the expat community in Colombia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It's very strong in Bogota where I live. Lots of people have moved over here in the past 5 years or so, and a bunch of us get together to play football on Fridays and socialize. It's nice because through those people you end up meeting people from all over the world, and plenty of Colombians too.
How would you summarize your expat life in Colombia in a single, catchy sentence?
It's been a surreal, exciting, sometimes confusing, but ultimately rewarding rollercoaster.