Moving to Medellin to study Spanish – #BaseLangStories
Get our free email course, Shortcut to Conversational.
Have conversations faster, understand people when they speak fast, and other tested tips to learn faster.More info
We spoke to former Grammarless student Tom about his time studying at our Medellin Spanish school, living in Colombia for 1 month, and any advice he has for anyone who is thinking about studying Spanish in Medellin, Colombia.
If you are thinking about studying in Spanish in Medellin, then you can find out more about our school and the programs we offer here.
1) First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Tom, I’m 55 and from the UK. I am a Company Director and Business Consultant and travel a lot around the world on business.
My goal is to live in a Spanish-speaking country 2-3 months a year and work from there.
2) Why did you decide to learn Spanish in Medellin?
The opportunity to study Spanish in Medellin came out of the blue. I had used a whole range of different methods to learn Spanish over the past two years, including Duolingo and Rocket Languages as well as attending a weekly class in my home town.
None of them delivered the results I desired, namely to achieve fluency. The biggest stumbling block, in my opinion, is a lack of opportunity to speak. I was about to sign up to BaseLang’s online programme, when I found out that they were opening a new Spanish school in Medellin.
I jumped at the chance as this was the perfect opportunity to kick-start my Spanish learning in an intensive programme.
3) Which part of Spanish did you previously struggle with the most?
It’s easy to learn a few phrases and stumble around. But to form sentences and actually be able to speak with someone in Spanish with a degree of competence is a different matter altogether.
Before I went to Medellin, I had almost convinced myself that I simply wasn’t capable to learn another language to the level I desired. Spanish pronunciation is relatively straightforward (in my opinion), but Spanish grammar and sentence construction is a different kettle of fish altogether.
So you have to learn it properly.
4) Can you describe your day-to-day routine while learning Spanish at BaseLang’s school?
I did the Grammarless programme and my teacher was Reinaldo. I had to deal with my work emails in the morning, so I opted for the afternoon session from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.
I stayed in a lovely house in the Laureles area, which I booked through Airbnb ($18 a night and worth every cent). It was close enough to the beautiful new BaseLang School, so I could walk. Reinaldo always kicked off the class with small talk in Spanish and made the most amazing Colombian coffee (which is always on the house).
We followed BaseLang’s “Grammarless” textbook, but the programme is very flexible and I had plenty of opportunities to practice or go back and re-do an area I was still struggling with.
5) Can you tell us a little bit about your progress?
First off: The teachers at BaseLang are super encouraging. There is no way you won’t learn Spanish.
They will do everything to ensure you lose your fear and constantly focus on your progress. Having said that, I was my own worst enemy as I had convinced myself that I was just terrible with languages and so my initial mindset slowed down my progress. It took me over a week before I began to realise that my goal to speak Spanish was actually achievable. I made tons of mistakes and my short-term memory is terrible so Reinaldo deserves a gold medal for being so encouraging and patient with me.
My progress certainly wasn’t linear and some days I felt like I was not making any progress at all. We’re all different and everyone has their own learning style and way of memorising things. But the BaseLang Programme is designed for even the most challenging student, of which I would consider myself to be one.
The most magical moment arrived on my last day in Colombia. I flew to Bogota to stay overnight before flying back home to London. The taxi driver from the airport couldn’t speak a word of English and so I had little choice but to communicate in Spanish. He wanted to know about the woman of Medellin and there I was in the middle of Bogota traffic, speaking Spanish.
6) Let’s talk about the city. Many people reading this want to know – is Medellin safe?
I fell in love with Medellin and wish I could have stayed longer. It’s a vibrant, colourful city with the most friendly people I have ever encountered. My friends back home kept saying “are you insane to visit that city – it’s far too dangerous”. But nothing could be further from the truth.
I felt completely safe and never encountered a problem. Obviously, it’s a big city and it would be foolish to suggest that you could not get mugged. So the usual precautions apply, which are sensible in any major city. But at no time did I feel even the slightest bit unsafe.
7) What was the most surprising thing about your stay in Medellin?
Medellin is fun, colourful and full of life and music. I remember walking home to my room one night and there was music everywhere… Reggaeton, Salsa and other Latino beats. I walked past a local bar, where everyone was singing along and just having a great time. An elderly couple were dancing the Salsa and the whole crowd was cheering them on.
It was probably my most enduring memory of this wonderful city. I was also surprised at how modern Medellin was – it’s public transport system is outstanding (and very clean and cheap), it’s supermarkets on a par with any we have in the UK and the most amazing nightlife. If you like clubbing and dancing as much as I do, then Medellin is the city for you.
8) Favorite restaurant in Medellin?
I would have to be Salut Pan – a local vegetarian restaurant near my home in Laureles. The food was divine and the staff incredible – and the prices so cheap that I couldn’t believe it at first. Medellin has something for everyone – with a huge array of international cuisine.
9) Favorite things to do Medellin?
I took a day trip to Guatape and if you do nothing else, you owe it to yourself to visit this amazing town. I also wanted to visit Cali and Cartagena, but just didn’t get round to it, so it will have to wait until next time. Other than that, I loved the street markets, dance clubs, and nightlife. If you like a city that pulsates with energy, good vibes, great people and awesome Latino culture.
10) Favorite Medellin Spanish slang, and it’s meaning?
Favourite Medellin Spanish slang?
Well, “mierda” (shit) comes in very handy when you can’t remember your bloody grammar… but for sheer force of expression, it would have to be “del putas” (f***ing awesome).
11) Finally, what’s the one thing piece of advice you have for anybody who is thinking about learning Spanish in Medellin?
If you are serious about learning Spanish, then BaseLang in Medellin is the best solution I have found. The programme is excellent value for money and the teachers are all super-friendly and first class. I cannot praise BaseLang highly enough. Those four weeks were the best investment of my time, my money and my commitment.
I also fell in love with Colombia in a way I never thought possible. Don’t think too much. Just do it.
Que tengas en buen dia y que te diviertas!
For more Medellin related posts, see below: