There are many blogs and websites out there absolutely gushing over all of the reasons to learn Spanish in Medellin, Colombia’s controversial city.
Many of the content on those sites are by freelance writers who have been hired to scrape content from other blogs.
Well, hold onto your arepas kids, because I have lived in Medellin myself and I went there with the exact intention of the theme of this post; to learn the beautiful language of Spanish.
Here are all of my personal incentives to choose Medellin as the place to call home for an Indefinite amount of time and becoming fully immersed in español.
1. (Medellin) Spanish is Clear For Beginners
While I was researching the best place in Colombia to learn Spanish, I constantly read the theory that Colombian Spanish was the best for beginner students of the language.
Due to my personal experience, I would disagree slightly with this idea, while giving Medellin itself the thumbs up.
Using the term “Colombian Spanish” as a collective is problematic because it assumes that all accents in the country are the same.
This is kind of ridiculous.
I am constantly told (usually by overconfident Americans) that I “don’t have a British accent,” which is simply not true.
I have a Durham (north-east England) accent, I just don’t have the two British accents that are famous on a global scale; cockney and posh/the queen’s English.
I would confidently say the top 3 most difficult accents to understand English in the UK are; Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle (which is close to Durham).
Colombia is the same, it’s a gigantic nation, compromising of a concoction of cultures across the country and let me tell you something, when I moved to Santa Marta, in the very north of Colombia, I could barely understand a word from a local and that was after 6 months learning Spanish and dating a Spanish-speaking woman for 4 of them!
Medellin’s regional dialect is nice, slower, clear and perfect for the ears of a beginner student of Spanish.
2. The City of Eternal Spring
Medellin’s official nickname is “The City of Eternal Spring,” due to its almost perfect climate.
The sun is pretty much always shining down on the Medellin province, but it’s not the same as living in Bangkok, or experiencing life as a Cambodian expat because the sun from that area of the world can be brutally humid and often uncomfortable.
While it’s shiny and sunny on most days, the temperature is not unbearable for people like myself from colder climates and the evenings are lovely and cool.
Much like living in Chiang Mai, the north of Thailand; you can rock the flip flops and shorts during the day and dress up nicely on evenings without playing the terrifying game of sweat roulette.
3. Paisa Women are Gorgeous
It shouldn’t be controversial to say this and I’m not “objectifying women” by saying that beautiful women exist and my sweet Lord, they exist in abundance in The City of Eternal Spring.
What better way is there to learn Spanish and enjoy that glorious weather than that in the company of an attractive woman?
I guess the obvious counter-argument to this assumed utopia would be you aren’t attracted to women in that way, but I can’t cater for everyone and this post is written open and honestly through my own world view.
“Paisa” is the nickname for Medellin locals and Paisa woman are a welcome addition to learning Spanish while living abroad like I was as a single man.
They aren’t just nice to look at; they also have a very alive energy, are fun to be around and are more than happy to help you learn their language.
There are plenty of Venezuelan woman there too, who are Spanish-speakers and are also often glorious looking.
There are however, a lot of honey traps in Medellin for men who think a little too much with the brain downstairs than the one in their heads.
As always, gents; make sure you sure to take extra safety precautions because some of those scams can be ruthless for the victim.
4. Medellin is Well Set Up For Day Trips
Although study should be your main focus and priority when learning Spanish in Medellin; all work and no play makes us dull boys and girls.
Boredom is often death when it comes to learning a new skill and accomplishing a goal.
It’s not only children who need to have fun, us adults also need to take time for a break from the grind and let our hair down.
Luckily for you, Medellin is so good for day trips that you’d think that was designed as a city with that in mind!
With the likes of El Peñol Rock, Guatape and San Rafael only a couple of hours away you have day trips and long weekends away from your base in Medellin and of course – even though you’re not in a classroom it doesn’t mean you’re not studying if you’re taking time to visit elsewhere.
In fact, I would argue that it’s even better as this is real-world studying.
Your language teacher is not there to hold your hand if you get stuck booking transport, ordering food, and providing help for making a connection with another person.
Getting out there and speaking and listening to the locals speaking is the best way to practice what you’ve learned in the classroom.
You learn by making mistakes happen during your best day trips from Medellin. so you can go back to class a few days later and wow your professor with new phrases you’ve picked up… all while exploring the stunning Medellin Antioquia Region.
5. Medellin Has a Decent Transport System
The transportation system in and around Medellin is another well-earned hat tip to the positive reasons to learning Spanish in Medellin.
The public transport in Medellin has a lot of options with the well-connected metro, busses, taxis, Uber and many domestic plane routes fly to and from Medellin.
Penny-pinching hardcore travellers be warned; Colombia is one of those odd places where it’s often cheaper to fly somewhere than it is to take the bus! (And also safer).
6. It’s Safer Than You Think
Not to be confused with “Medellin is very safe, everyone holds hands and sings kumbaya, little girls with platted pigtails drive around on small bicycles while talking pit-stops to pet their local friendly unicorn.”
I hate that.
In the travel blogging world there is way too much idealism, dishonesty and dancing around the fact that some places are objectively more dangerous than others.
However, Medellin was once cursed with violent drug crime and given the unwanted name of being the most dangerous city in the world.
It has bounced back hard from them days and the city prides itself in distancing itself from its dark and depressing past.
I’ve travelled quite a bit so I have a healthy level of paranoia on the road. Medellin isn’t exactly Taiwan-level safe but I was still surprised – it was certainly safer than I expected it to be.
7. Medellin is a Cosmopolitan City
Medellin really does stand alone from the rest of the nation.
“Cosmopolitan” has become one of those compliments that is often overused so much that it loses its meaning when it’s loosely thrown around.
However, Medellin has been trying its best over the years to become more progressive, have more home comforts for expats from other countries and making you feel like you have a home away from home.
I have regularly come back to Medellin over the years and the supermarkets seem more impressively stocked up with more International cuisine options and that is for sure an extra tick in the box!
8. Impressive Accommodation Options
The accommodation options in Medellin have everything from budget friendly to high end; whatever way you are leaning you will not be short of choices for your financially resources.
I completely lucked out, bagging a 6 month penthouse in the centre of Poblado for only $400 per month.
Finding the right place to live abroad can be a nightmare with all of the voices out there and differing opinions.
I’ve tried my best compile all of the pros and cons in this article about the best neighbourhoods to stay in Medellin.
9. EAFIT University
I can not speak highly enough of EAFIT University for a clueless first-timer learning Spanish in Medellin.
I have a very, very low tolerance for classroom environments but I lucked out with Professor Juan Delgado whose classes were interactive, creative and with a cheeky humour.
I was always engaged in class with his sharp wit and speedy paper reviews every morning, which helped my Spanish to improve as soon as possible.
I did 8 weeks at EAFIT before moving onto one-on-one classes twice a week and it was a fantastic institution that helped me nail down the foundations before moving on to the next level.
It still to this day has a stellar reputation in Medellin, it comes at quite a premium, but this is for sure a positive example of “you get what you pay for” and the renowned university fully deserves its long-term praise.
Try your luck and apply for a scholarship at EAFIT. And if you are not sure how to do it properly, find scholarship essay writing help from reliable writers. They will ensure your application essay is flawless.
10. Private Classes Can Be Budget-Friendly
If you’re on a tight budget and the likes of EAFIT pull way too tight on your purse strings, then you can find plenty of private tutors on the cheap.
Language teaching is like any other industry, you have ultra-successful people that can charge expensive amounts, then there are mid-range people and there are also individuals who are just starting out and are more than happy to build their portfolio for a lower cost.
There are a few ways to find these people; word of mouth, look out for cards on poster boards at universities and even cafes and restaurants and also good old Facebook expat forums.
11. English is Not Widely-Spoken in Medellin
This might at first seem a bit of a silly comment. Spanish is the mother tongue of Colombia, right out there in South America, right below Central America and Mexico…
… So of course English isn’t heard all over the place.
Well, not all Latin-American countries are created equally regarding my point.
Possibly the biggest frustration of mine as a language learner is when I’m struggling (but trying my best) to speak another person’s language, if their English is better then my current level of their language; they will reply in English!
I find this incredibly frustrating, condescending and rude.
Critical thinking time; if I was in the UK, and I met a guy from Ecuador who was trying to connect with me. but his broken English wasn’t as good as my Spanish level, I would not dream of overtaking the conversation in English!
This was a major pet peeve of mine when living in Mexico City, which is a lot more trendy and more people speak English there (probably due to the fact they’re neighbours with the USA).
In Colombia there is not a great deal of English-speakers so it forces you to become better at Spanish.
Short term pain for long term gain!
So there you have it, all of the perfect viable reasons to study Spanish in Medellin and I’m genuinely glad that I chose this city over all of the other options in the world.
Wherever you choose, good luck with your studies.