The first week was filled with classes and lots of fun activities! Our group went on a tour of Barranquilla to learn more about the history of the city and see some incredible monuments. We visited “La ventana al mundo,” or the window to the world, which is an incredibly tall colorful monument that has the history of Barranquilla written on the inner walls. We also saw La Catredral Metropolitana de Barranquilla, and the Aleta de Tiburon Junior which is a monument tied to the baseball team “Los Tiburones” here in Barranquilla. While it was super hot outside all day, it was a great experience getting to travel around the city and become more familiar with important places and aspects of the culture here.
Schoolwork is also not scare at UniNorte (the university that we’re partnering with for classes). We have a mixture of UA and UniNorte professors for our classes, which are 1.5 hours long Monday-Thursday each week. With my level of Spanish right now, immersion is fairly difficult and I have to put in a lot of work learning new words for classes and simply to communicate each day. The classes are hard, but much of it comes from that we are covering about a semester’s worth of material in 6 weeks. Outside of class time at UniNorte, I work on my homework in the library or take a longer lunch at one of the restaurants on campus. There are lots of iguanas and cats on campus too, which sounds strange but is so fun to see every day.
During our first weekend in Barranquilla, my roommate and I met up with other UA students in the program at el centro comercial Buena Vista (the mall). It’s massive with 5 floors and hundreds of stores. I was able to buy 2 books in Spanish that are for intermediate level readers, which I’m excited to bring back to the US with me. We got lunch at a restaurant in the mall and explored the supermarket. In Colombia, there are a lot more types of fruits than in America and loads more types of juices too. At our host family’s house, my roommate and I have various types of juice with breakfast and dinner each day including panella, mango, lulo, granadilla, and more. While super busy, my first week was overall a great one, with lots of time spent adjusting to the hot climate and noises of the city and lots of fun adventures with my UA group.