Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Colombia: Things Learned

New Motto: Living and Learning

As some of you may know, I've been in Trinidad for over a month now after spending an amazing, life changing year in Bogotá, Colombia. I experienced SO MUCH which has impacted on my life and helped me to see and understand things differently. After reading a friend's blog ( and flicking through some pictures of my friends and I in Colombia, I felt inspired to finally sit down and write this blog post since the idea had been floating around in my head for some time now. The idea concerned all the intangible things I learned during my year in Colombia and how I've started to and/ or intend to adopt them in my everyday life. Sharing is caring and self evaluation is a good thing so I figure that this blog post would kill two birds with one stone. Quite resourceful if you ask me!

1) Survival

Two weeks prior to my departure for Colombia, my Dad called me outside and asked if I could fry sausage with onions and prepare breakfast for myself. I knew that my Dad meant well but his question left me unsettled and worried about how I was going to survive for a year without my parents. My Mum had attempted to teach me how to cook but nothing seemed to stick. Thus, when I left for Colombia two weeks later, I had decided that I would have to survive by minimalist means until further notice. After the pelau debacle of 2010 where my friend and I made a pelau without bursting the pigeon peas, I can safely say that I can handle my stories in the kitchen, bachelor style. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Wolfgang Puck but, if you're into spaghetti, red beans, store- bought rotisserie chicken and juice; I'm your guy. On one or two occasions, I actually seasoned my own meat and grilled it. I can also do pretty rudimentary stuff in the kitchen so I'm not worried much anymore. Another version of learning to survive comes from the fact that I learned how to travel around a big city like Bogotá. Mind you, there were times when I ended up in another part of the city but that's nothing because I wholeheartedly believe that getting lost helps you to know what not to take the next time around. Plus, it's fun! I'm not as navigationally retarded as I was. Overall, I came back to Trinidad in one piece, ready to inculcate my new found survival skills into my life and possibly, pick up some more along the way.

2) Appreciation

I love my family and I appreciate everything they do for me. I let them know this everyday and I try to be a good son/ grandson and make them proud. There is something about being away from your family for a long period of time, in a foreign country living in the apartment of a budding dictator. For some reason, you start to yearn for what you had at home and begin to truly understand and appreciate EVERYTHING that your family has done for you. My parents and grandmother work really hard to send me to University full- time whilst providing for my basic necessities and beyond. I try my best to make them proud but I have been slacking off. I mean, I don't put an 100% into my university studies; I'm capable of straight A's and being at the First Class Honours level but due to laziness and complacency, I've been falling short of realizing my true potential. Thankfully, I've re- discovered my scholastic fervour, a new version perhaps but, a fervour nonetheless. My new goal is to graduate with First Class Honours and make my parents and grandmother EXTREMELY proud of me and know that their sacrifices were not in vain. Whenever I feel down-trodden and want to give up which, I will because UWI has a way of getting to you, I'll think about my family and all the sacrifices they are making and will continue to make for me. I'm not only appreciative of the sacrifices my family made but I'm also grateful for EVERYTHING that they taught me while growing up. I'm always commended on my manners, my "clean" appearance and my chivalrous demeanour; those traits that I learned from my family. THANK YOU!

3) Friendship

The friendships I formed during my time in Colombia are dear and near to my heart especially, the one that I formed with my fellow, Trinidadian language assistants, Claire and André. At first, I honestly never imagined that we would have become such good friends. It started of weird but over time I really grew to respect, love and trust them deeply. I could tell them ANYTHING and trust that I can get a word or two of advice, knowing that what we spoke about would remain among the three of us. I consider them my siblings and would do just about anything for them. Some of you reading this are probably thinking that I'm replacing you as friends and that is not my intention. This friendship has taught me a lot about what a friendship is supposed to be like. No back- stabbing, no bacchanal between members of the group of friends and no rancour. I've had friendships like those and quite frankly, I'm over it! I've started weeding out these "friends" or at least, letting them know that I'm no longer interested in having "frenemies". I feel as though I have the right to choose the people that I want to have around me, helping me to become a better person and vice versa. My new friendship has also taught me how to be a friend to my really good friends that I haven't been treating fairly and basically, ignoring. I've started to make contact with them and spend more time with them in an effort to show them that I do value their presence in my life. If we're meant to be friends, all will be well and if not, that's life; you win some, you lose some. So, thanks André and Claire for my epiphany. Love you guys!

4) National Appreciation

Being in Colombia, experiencing the culture and absorbing as much as I can has instilled in me an appreciation for Trinidad and Tobago and what it has to offer. I noticed that there are so many Places of Interest that I have NEVER visited in Trinidad and Tobago. I've never been to the Asa Wright Nature Centre nor the Caroni Swamp nor the Gasparee Caves. I mean, really? According to a friend, "Yuh conduct real poor!" Thus, I'm making it a goal to visit and see as much of my country as I possibly can and partake in cultural celebrations that doesn't revolve around Carnival and calypso tents but venture out of my comfort zone and explore like that 'ole nastiness' Dora. Anybody wanna come?

My year in Colombia has been a blessing in so many ways. Not only was I able to see another part of the world, experience a different culture and improve my Spanish but I was able to grow as an individual and make amazing, lifelong friends. Overall, I'm a work in progress and I'm looking forward to my personal development. So, let's see what this year has in store for me. I'm excited and hope you are too. Until the next post!