Teaching English in Colombia

Teaching English abroad is a great way to travel whilst earning money and meeting new people. There are a large number of countries looking for English teachers such as Thailand, South Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and many more.
I decided to move to Colombia because, on a previous visit, I fell in love with the country’s landscapes, friendliness and overall culture.
Before embarking on my Colombian journey, I researched for many hours online: finding different companies, discovering what they would offer, and from this deciding which company would be the best fit for me. Then I completed a TEFL course and booked my flight to Colombia.
I decided I specifically wanted to work in Colombia’s capital, Bogota, so I stayed away from the American and English companies who could place you in any city (and who also paid significantly less than others and required deposits).

 

I started my journey to Colombia (which, thanks to Avianca’s direct-from-London flight, was significantly easier than my last visit) and as soon as I arrived I felt like I was home. Have you ever had that feeling of just belonging somewhere? It’s pretty magical.

I had various job interviews when I first arrived in Colombia: every company was different and each offered a variety of benefits and hours etc. After a number of interviews I decided that the best fit for me was Bogota Business English. A couple of weeks later I found myself in the Colombian migration office waiting for my visa interview (in which you need to have the relevant paperwork, go to the office as early as you can and then sit and wait). The whole process was pretty straightforward: you wait for your turn, present your documents to the official, they study them and call you back to tell you the outcome. The process took around 2 hours to complete and they put your visa in your passport straight away, then you’re free to go.

In Colombia you have to have an ID card called a cedula and foreigners get given a cedula extranjeria- this number is your person ID and is used for opening bank accounts and getting paid etc. You have to get this from a different office where once again you present your documents, wait and they give you an answer (it’s also useful to note that at this office they stamp your visa with an entry stamp, so you have to go within 10 days of receiving your visa). Cedulas take around 5 days to be processed and then you are good to go.

Working as a teacher in Colombia is amazing as there is a big English/American community of teachers who are all very friendly and welcoming. Bogota Business English employs around 30 teachers who are all from English-speaking countries.

There are a large number of schools in Colombia who employ English teachers and if you happen to have a masters degree in teaching, from a UK or American University, you have the opportunity to be employed by one of the private Bilingual English schools in Bogota or at a University. The British Council has a big presence in Bogota as well as Wall Street English and International House. Whilst all of these institutions are good, they require different qualifications and offer different hours and wages. I picked Bogota Business English because it pays by the hour and offers 25 hours a week (the typical working hours are 7 – 9am, 12- 2pm and 5-7pm) which gives you plenty of time to explore Bogota as well as giving you long weekends to travel the country.

I would definitely recommend Colombia as a place to teach English as the country is beautiful and the people are so kind and friendly. Bogota Business English is a great company to work for and they are always looking for new teachers, so if you find yourself wanting to come and work in Colombia be sure to check out their website.

 

Colombia is voted one of the best travel destinations for 2017 by Lonely Planet

I have written a number of articles on why I believe Colombia is an amazing travel destination and Lonely Planet have announced that they agree with me by naming Colombia one of the Top 10 Best Travel Destinations for 2017.

Lonely Planet has been one of the leading travel guides/experts for a large number of years. It has become a trusted brand with large numbers of people visiting their website each day. Colombia should be proud to be voted one of the Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2107, hopefully this will encourage many more people to visit the country and find out why it is so magical.

‘The only thing dangerous about Colombia is wanting to stay’ this slogan has been used to describe Colombia for many years after a very successful marketing campaign. Another successful marketing campaign is ‘Colombia is Magical Realism’, both these campaigns were created to influence and show people Colombia isn’t what it’s stereotypes suggest.

Stereotypes have been destroying the countries reputation for a large number of years, the media only publishing negative stories, generalising the country as a whole and creating a negative image of the country. I have been living in Colombia for the last 5 months and the amount of people who tell me I’m crazy is unbelievable. The only answer for them I have now is ‘your crazy for not being here’ or ‘how can you judge something you have never seen’.

To many Colombia is a country which they never had any desire to visit,in reality Colombia has the best of everything; with its Caribbean beaches, Andes mountain range, snowcapped mountains, Amazon Rainforest, desert plains and amazing people, why wouldn’t people want to visit. Colombia’s dangerous reputation was fuelled with the help of Pablo Escobar, Drugs, Farc and other cartels. Now in 2016 Colombia is on the verge of a peace deal with it’s main cartel with the promise of other cartels following. Colombia’s violence in the past 5 years has been confined to one city, with even that city becoming safer now.

Predominately America fuelled Colombia’s drug problem in the 80s with 90% of Colombia’s drug production being exported to the states or around the world. Colombians saw drugs as money, if they took the drugs they would be losing valuable profit. I’m not saying Colombians never take drugs I’m just saying the majority of drugs were exported to feed Americas and the world addiction.

The Lonely Planet Best Travel Destinations for 2017 states that Colombia is the jewel of South America and I believe this to be one hundred percent true.

Check out Colombia and the other 9 countries in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017 here: Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017 Guide



 

The day Colombia shocked the world

The 2nd of October should have been a day for celebration for the country of Colombia – A peace negotiation complete and signed by both parties, the only thing left was a public vote, that’s the easy part right – who isn’t going to vote yes.

The polls leading up to the plebiscite indicated that the ‘yes’ vote was going to win by a land slide, many people also believed that after the leader of the FARC apologised to the nation and asked for forgiveness at Monday’s declaration signing the gap would once again increase.

The polling stations closed at 4pm and the votes started being announced, the first few votes were 70% to 30% for peace, then more and more started being announced with closer and closer percentages. The came the first big blow, an area around Medellin 70% to 30% for no peace, then again. By the time they had announced 90% of the votes ‘no’ was ahead by 60,000 votes (again not a high number). It was decided, by a very close margin – Colombia had decided no for peace.

I know what your thinking how can a country who has been at war for 52 years, had thousands of individuals kidnapped and killed, vote to carry on this war. As an outsider this is what we see, I will admit when I first heard there was going to be a vote, I was a little taken back, why would a country at war need to vote if it wanted to be at peace. It should just jump at the chance for it, for the next generation to start over, opportunities to improve the countries reputation and lively hood for everyone.

The more you look into the vote and see it from an insiders point of view the more you understand it. Yes Colombia was voting for peace, but it wasn’t technically; Colombia was voting for whether or not they agreed with the terms of the peace declaration. Included in the peace declaration were; rehabilitating FARC soldiers back into ‘normal’ life, meaning many would go unpunished for the crimes they committed, allowing FARC to have 10 seats in Congress and build a political party (although they wouldn’t have a deciding percentage) and many others just did not believe the FARC would keep to the agreements. Peace was just the outcome of the declaration, there’s nothing to say that peace won’t occur now if they reach another deal.

The plebiscite or Brexit number 2 as the Colombian media referred it to, was extremely close, finishing at 49.78% yes (6,377,482 votes) and 50.21% (6,431,376 votes) no, with a total voter turnout of 13,066,047 (37.43% of the population).

The most interesting thing about the votes is that if you break it down by regions and then compare them to the areas effected the most by FARC it’s a very interesting revelation. The areas affected most by FARC are primarily the regions which the ‘yes vote’ was the strongest, these are the people who want peace, the people whose lives are affected everyday, the people who have had family members killed or land taken away from them. The areas which predominately voted no are were Antioquia (the department containing Medellin) and Santander, these regions were less affected by FARC but contain a high amount of people especially Medellin (2nd largest city in Colombia). So why did so many of these people vote no, this is the question on many Colombian minds, the leader of the no party is Álvaro Uribe is from Antioquia and many followers in the region.

The opinion in Colombia on Sunday night is mixed, many in shock and many more wondering whats going to happen next. Nothing else could have been done to persuade people to vote either way, the ‘yes’ vote had the world’s backing, with the possibility of a Nobel Prize or the Pope visiting and the ‘no’ vote had the backing of a top politician.

The future for peace in Colombia is still yet to be written, President Santos has declared he will do everything he can to see peace come to this amazing country, with the backing of the world, fingers crossed he succeeds.