Colombia
Resources
City Guides
JoinSign In
University of Birmingham Online MBA

Living in Colombia > Medellin >

Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Medellin, Colombia

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Medellin

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

I had visited CO in 2005 and 2006 so I knew something about what to expect. I lived in China from 2006 - 2008 and moved to CO in 2009. I've now lived here in Medellin for 1 year 8 months. I am retired on disability so I live on a very tight budget.

Expats living in Colombia interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in Colombia interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

I took a short Spanish course in 2006 but ended up living in China long enough to forget most of what I learned. So I would say that for all intent and purpose I spoke no Spanish before moving here.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

Somewhat concerned although I am a bit familiar with Latin culture in a very general sense. It was a huge problem trying to adapt to Chinese culture. That was the primary reason I decided leave China and move to Colombia.

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

I found it hard to get on not speaking Spanish but I am fortunate to be living with a Colombian friend who speaks English quite well. The biggest culture shock has been the question of security. I'm a photographer and I'm used to taking my cameras everywhere without putting much thought into it. In China I wandered around taking photos even in very poor areas. Here is is not wise.

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

My stages are a little mixed up since I get on much better now, so my frustration came before the honeymoon. I'm very adaptable so it hasn't been a big thing. I find that within a few minutes of meeting people they ask about faith. I'm atheist and everyone here is Catholic or Christian. But I get no hostility here only a bit of confusion. I find them to be very open and warm. In China it was never a subject of conversation everyone was atheist or Buddhist.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

There is a lot of crime here and while I don't really fear terrorists or drug gangs, not being involved with either, street crime is a big concern. I ran a business in a bad area in CA for 30 years and am "street smart" but I am not familiar enough with the area to be comfortable traveling the city alone. I also find that people from the barrios don't understand the greater risk for foreigners. When you go into the smaller towns there is no problem.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

I hate to sound like a monger but I like the fact that I can date women of a much wider age range. Of course I can do far more with my limited funds. But I don't drink and I'm not a partier. I find people here to be very warm and inclusive, when you meet a family you always become one of them right away and they are your friends from then on.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The language is a problem but of course it become less as I learn. One must be very careful as to where you go do to the problems of crime.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

Nothing really bad a few minor things. I decided that I should address my friends father as Don Perez but in my tounge tied Spanish I said Don Perro which would be "Sir Dog". Again I have a Colombian friend watching me and giving me tips.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Study the language before you come, there isn't apt to be anyone who speaks yours. While this is more true in China it is also true in CO. If you are planning to do any dating you really need local knowledge for the culture in the area.

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Colombia from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

More about Medellin

Guide to Living in Medellin

Guide to Living in Medellin

Expats living in Medellin, Colombia report that there are safe places to live - and that the nightlife is fun, too. Read about how to live in Medellin - a city that has become quite a popular destination for expats.

Best Places to Live in Medellin

Best Places to Live in Medellin

Here are the best places to live in Medellin, Colombia, based on the recommendations of expats that already live there. There are options for a variety of budgets in this now popular destination in Colombia.

Cost of Living in Medellin

Cost of Living in Medellin

Expats in Medellin enjoy a far lower cost of living than in major cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. However, work is scarce and low pay unless you are transferred there by a large company, so you'll need an established income stream to make it as an expat in Medellin.

Healthcare in Medellin

Healthcare in Medellin

The healthcare system in Medellin, Colombia gets generally positive reviews from expats there. Find answers to questions about universal healthcare in Colombia, what it takes to get an EPS card and more.

Digital-Nomads-in-Medellin,-Colombia

Living Abroad: Digital Nomads in Medellin, Colombia

Expats in Colombia have taken full advantage of this South American nation's miraculous comeback after decades of chaos. Digital nomads have also found there way to Medellin, its second largest city, for a wide variety of reasons.

Expats in Colombia have taken full advantage of this South American nation's miraculous comeback after decades of chaos. Digital nomads have also found there way to Medellin, its second largest city,...

Expat Health Insurance and Healthcare

Expat Health Insurance and Healthcare in Medellin

An expat discusses healthcare and health insurance in Medellin, Colombia. There are several private hospitals in Medellin. He advises expats to purchase health insurance.

12 Tips for Living in Medellin, Colombia

12 Tips for Living in Medellin, Colombia in Medellin

An expat talks about what it's like living in Medellin, Colombia - the city of eternal spring. She talks about the popular neighborhood Carrera 70, enjoying life without a car, the 2017 changes in visa laws, hospitals, schools and much more.

Retirement in Medellin

A retiree in Medellin talks about loving life in Medellin - it's been a great change of pace for him and his wife. He says that while some expats live on $1,500 per month, others live in $3,000.

Culture Shock in Medellin

An expat in Medellin talks about adapting to the manana way of life, starting a real estate business in Colombia and the friendly Colombians.

Join our Colombia Expat Forum

Visit our Colombia Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Medellin, Colombia.

More about Colombia

10-Tips-for-Living-in-Colombia10 Tips for Living in Colombia

Colombia is an up-and-coming expat destination. With it's low cost of living, and wonderful people, Colombia has a lot to offer.

6-Best-Places-to-Live-in-Colombia6 Best Places to Live in Colombia

Colombia has made an incredible transformation. Expats in Colombia have a lot to say about the best places to live in Colombia. From cities on the Caribbean coast to inland cities, here are 6 of the best places to live in Colombia.

9-Tips-for-Buying-Property-in-Colombia9 Tips for Buying Property in Colombia

Expats in Colombia share insightful tips for buying property in Colombia. If you're thinking about buying real estate in Colombia, there is much to learn from their experiences.

12-Important-Tips-about-Healthcare12 Important Tips about Healthcare for Expats in Colombia

Expats in Colombia share experiences with the Colombian healthcare system. Tips cover EPS, quality of medical care, hospital stays and more.

Cigna International Health Insurance

Write a Comment about this Expat Report

Sign In to post a comment.
addacomment

Comments about this Report

Parmador
Jun 9, 2012 11:18

Thanks for sharing. I also live off of SSA disability on a tight budget. Nice to know someone else is doing the same thing. Any hints on healthcare? Gracias, Pasquale

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Colombia from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Guide to Living in MedellinGuide to Living in Medellin

Expats living in Medellin, Colombia report that there are safe places to live - and that the nightlife is fun, too. Read about how to live in Medellin - a city that has become quite a popular destination for expats.

Healthcare in MedellinHealthcare in Medellin

The healthcare system in Medellin, Colombia gets generally positive reviews from expats there. Find answers to questions about universal healthcare in Colombia, what it takes to get an EPS card and more.

Best Places to Live in MedellinBest Places to Live in Medellin

Here are the best places to live in Medellin, Colombia, based on the recommendations of expats that already live there. There are options for a variety of budgets in this now popular destination in Colombia.

Cost of Living in MedellinCost of Living in Medellin

Expats in Medellin enjoy a far lower cost of living than in major cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. However, work is scarce and low pay unless you are transferred there by a large company, so you'll need an established income stream to make it as an expat in Medellin.

Restaurants in MedellinRestaurants in Medellin

Support your favorite restaurants in Medellin as they recover from the pandemic. Submit a free listing for them on Expat Exchange to help spread the word about them to the expat community.

Digital-Nomads-in-Medellin,-ColombiaLiving Abroad: Digital Nomads in Medellin, Colombia

Expats in Colombia have taken full advantage of this South American nation's miraculous comeback after decades of chaos. Digital nomads have also found there way to Medellin, its second largest city, for a wide variety of reasons.

Expats in Colombia have taken full advantage of this South American nation's miraculous comeback after decades of chaos. Digital nomads have also found there way to Medellin, its second largest city,...

Colombia Guide
Other Links
Our Story Our Team Contact Us Submit an Article Advertising Travel Warnings

Copyright 1997-2020 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal