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Richard: Richard McColl

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Colombia makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Colombia, etc.

I am an Anglo Canadian freelance journalist and author originally from London. I moved to Colombia full time in 2007 after spending several years reporting from various countries in Latin America.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

Only a few years ago really, I decided I needed a blog to showcase my articles about Colombia and a reference point for potential editors out there! Since then it has been successful and is something which I enjoy.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I am pretty pleased with this one about how my life as an expat has changed over the years: From Dumb Expat in Guatemala to Active Citizen in Colombia. You know, I guess my first experiences were as a happy go lucky backpacker type but now I am far more involved in life in my adopted homeland.

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?

After 16 years overseas and in Latin America I can say that I do suffer from time to time from culture shock. It’s the little things, difficulties in internet banking, queues and time keeping. But, now I hardly ever return to the UK I suppose I suffer more from reverse culture shock when I am in London!

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Colombia? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

Colombia is an interesting case, I think all those years working and travelling in Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil prepared me somewhat. But, Bogota is a tough city and at times you do get weary of the constant onslaught of noises, smells and pressure.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Colombia?

  • Keep an open mind.
  • Listen to the locals.
  • Get involved in Colombian life.

How is the expat community in Colombia? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

In truth, to begin with, I was quite distant from the expat community since I had made the decision to live here. I was not attached to a multinational firm and wasn’t teaching English and so I tried to immerse myself more in Colombian life. Over the years I have attended a few expats events here and there as it is good to touch base with people who have a shared background to mine. 

How would you summarize your expat life in Colombia in a single, catchy sentence?

Todo es posible, nada es seguro. Everything is possible, nothing is certain. 

Pablo Garcia Ramirez

"I was so lucky that a friend told me about InterNations before I came to Bogota. I had the chance to contact many expats there from home."

Michelle Guillemont

"I was a little bit afraid before moving to Colombia - a new language, security issues, no friends. InterNations helped me settle in, though. "

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