Cityscapes, Homesickness, and Staying Positive Abroad
Given I always go home during reading week at Warwick, which occurs week 6 of every term, hitting week 7 in Bogotá this week means this is the longest period of time I have ever spent away from home.
Thanks to the Andes surrounding the city, it seems that any time I don’t have something planned, a trip to one of the many viewpoints is the default way to spend an afternoon….
Having suffered from what I have called “The Colombian Plague” (essentially the flu) for close to two weeks at the end of July/ beginning of August, trips out of the city were replaced with some good old tourist activity around Bogotá. Thanks to Colombia’s rather misjudged international perception, there are far fewer tourists here than in any part of Europe, meaning even in the most touristy parts, it is still easy to find fair priced, decent restaurants, and not be too harassed by trinket sellers.
I wasn’t joking! The view from Monserrate, a church located on top of a mountain, which can be reached by foot, or if you are me, by Cable Car!
There’s a perception, that because Bogotá is in Colombia and very close to the equator, it must be a consistently hot, tropical paradise, but, unfortunately, that is very far from the truth. Whilst the settlements on the country’s Caribbean coast recieve all the sun, due to the height of the city, the words used to describe the weather in Bogotá are far from sunny, warm, and tropical. In fact, whenever I feel a bit homesick, I simply need to look out the window…
I suppose it is consistent! This is the weather, year-round, usually accompanied by some drizzle. Every. Single. Day.
Maybe it was my plight with sickness or reaching the 7-week mark, but I have been definitely been noticing some feelings of homesickness recently, something that is only natural when your friends and family are half the world away! There’s a perception that your Year Abroad is just about speaking your language of choice, having fun, and exploring the world a bit more. In fact, I couldn’t count the number of times I have heard people who have finished theirs describe it as “amazing” or the “best year of your life.”
However, sometimes it can be really hard. Nothing can quite prepare you for living alone, in a country where you haven’t exactly mastered the language yet, with no major goals. Don’t get me wrong, you need to focus on your languages here, however given there are so many ways to improve them, and the fact that, probably for the first time in your academic life, your grades really are not the most important part of the day, it is quite easy to feel a bit lost. (Clarification: for the Hispanic Studies department, whilst it is obviously preferable that you pass all your chosen modules, it is not the end of the world if you cannot).
For more information: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/modernlanguages/applying/undergraduate/yearabroad/hispanic-studies/
Therefore, in between lectures, volunteering meetings and sleep, I have been spending time doing what I enjoy doing, in order to assist my occasional pining for Surrey…
Jardin Botanico de Bogota Jose Celestino Mutis: essentially, some lovely Botanical Gardens within the city.
The Usaquen Market, where once again, thanks to fewer tourists, it is easier to find artisanal, authentic products than say, at the Birmingham Christmas market.
Pupdate: Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge dog-lover, and it is safe to say, Colombia does not disappoint. With dogs practically at every corner, every day is made easier by their cuteness!!
Even the security Dogs! The struggles of not being able to cuddle them make every day that little bit more difficult on campus…
Therefore, I think it is important to remember, whether you are on your Year Abroad, or are just feeling a bit stuck at university, to not become too stressed about feeling homesick, as everyone goes through it to varying extents. It is important to stay positive, do things that you enjoy, and remember how much you have already achieved!