Three things I’ll Miss from Medellin, Colombia

1. Sunrise in the City 

At the painful hour of 5:30 am, my alarm shakes me from my brief sleep, and due to the sheer noise my classmates produce, my constant daily headache begins. I begin each morning waking up alongside the city. With my body curled in a king-sized Costco blanket, an iced coffee and granola juggled in my hands, and the encroaching time to leave for school, I leave the entrenchment of my room to catch the sunrise over our eleventh story balcony. In this city, the sunrise is a break from the smog and pollution that engulfs Medellín daily. Apparent from the usual gray and beige surrounding my apartment, lifeless colors of orange and pink emerge from the clouds in the stillness of the morning. 

2. The Bonding that is Colombian Reggaeton

My first day of school I was introduced to Colombian reggaeton. As a way to fit in, memorizing Bailando, Mi Gente, and anything Bhad Bunny, proved my music knowledge to the Colombians, and made me sound pretty cool back in the United States. Belting out unknown rap words became my new therapy. In the shower, I played the same song on repeat until the faulty mispronunciations became smooth Colombian slang; it was liberating. Our driver, Leo, would pick me up at 6am for school. Typically I was too exhausted to speak in the mornings, not only from waking up early but from the day prior; the mental strain of translating and speaking not in your mother tongue is the ultimate trial of defiance. However, it was nothing a little Bhad Bunny and Enrique Iglesias couldn’t solve. I plugged my phone into Leo’s car, and we laughed together at the lyrics of Colombian reggaeton and American pop songs. Raeggeton gave me a connection to others that other common interests just couldn’t. Throughout El Poblado, blasting music and Leo’s reverberating laugh could be heard in the streets. Through language barriers, miscommunication and awkwardness, reggaeton was always there. 

3. The Balcony of Piso 11

Unlike my previous life in suburbia, Medellín is a place for people-watching, for excitement, for noise, thunderstorms, and motorcycle accidents. From the entrancement of my balcony, I can see all sixteen of Medellin’s comunas. In El Poblado, people spew out of the malls, wait outside of their favorite restaurant, step into taxis, and drunken travelers spill onto the streets from the over-crowded bars. In Envigado, trees line the side-walks and children play in the parks. In El Centro, police sirens roar and the stereotypical roughness of Medellin becomes apparent. From my balcony I live through the stillness of the morning, when only the taxi drivers and school vans occupy the streets. I live through the simplicity of the afternoon, when street vendors sell empanadas and guava juice at the local farmer’s market. From my balcony, I live through the roaring nightlife of El Poblado when disco lights amplify the local pubs and fireworks magnify the dark, cloudy sky. 

When it’s sunny and starts torrential pouring at the same time, I rush to watch the atrocities from the balcony. When the Rappi Uber Eats guy arrives on his moto, I peer over the balcony, waiting patiently for my favorite burrito. When I hear a car-crash right outside my apartment, I rush to look over the balcony railing. Silly enough, my balcony is my newsfeed, my excitement, my adrenaline.

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