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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One final comment - I've given all this advice assuming you're a guy. If you're a girl, I'd be even more negative about your idea of living in a smaller city with a low gringo population. If in fact you are a girl and are thinking of living in any of the cities CarolinaTHeels suggests, I would HIGHLY recommend emailing someone from the British Council and asking if they can put you in touch with a female language assistant who has lived in that city.
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Rainingsteel



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CarolinaTHeels wrote:
Quote:
....not working many hours and use the other time to travel, learn spanish, makes friends, learn to dance, and party!

This! Lol. This is what I'm allll about. Very Happy

windowlicker wrote:
Quote:
What's more, there will be no place in these other cities to provide you with the salsa and spanish classes (and likely the cultural experiences) you're looking for. Even further, these places will have nowhere to live that you'll find appealing, unless you like the idea of living with a family who are likely strict about the time you come home and who you have over. Without any of this, you're likely to find these cities isolating and intimidating. Places like Bogotá, Medellín, Calí, and Barranquilla (despite how unappealing I find Barranquilla) are more likely to provide you with the "bridges" needed to make friends (whether that be with Colombians or other foreigners).


That's a very good point. I didn't even consider this. I guess I'll just stay in Bogota, since that's where I'll arrive anyway.


Quote:
One final comment - I've given all this advice assuming you're a guy. If you're a girl, I'd be even more negative about your idea of living in a smaller city with a low gringo population. If in fact you are a girl and are thinking of living in any of the cities CarolinaTHeels suggests, I would HIGHLY recommend emailing someone from the British Council and asking if they can put you in touch with a female language assistant who has lived in that city.


And thanks for the concern, but I'm a male. Ex-military Afghan/Iraq Vet. Although I do appreciate the tips. That's kinda the reason I was leaning away from Bogota, because I read that there are a lot of American special forces stationed there; the type of people I like to avoid since leaving the military and attending college (becoming more liberal, etc.)

spanglish wrote:
Quote:
For Spanish classes I can personally recommend La Universidad Nacional in Bogota (I had an absolutely fantastic experience there) and La Universidad Externado in Bogota. La Nacional wins on price and overall experience (you get to experience a real, big-city Latin American campus with some of the smartest, most vibrant students in the whole country) while Externado wins on small (tiny) class size, catering to your schedule, convenience and providing a comfortable, safe and relatively modern, urban campus.


This sounds great. Exactly what I want to do. But I thought I needed a student visa in order to attend a university? Also... how expensive are Spanish classes at these locations?

And a few more questions spanglish:
I've been looking at listings on compartoapto. I see listings that I like in zona centro. Is this where I want to be? Is it close to the university and nightlife? And random... but will I be able to get a gym membership in this area?

I'm aware that this thread has gone WAY off topic but it seems that you guys have great info/advice about Colombia so I figured it was best to ask it here. I'll definetely look into getting those books you guys mentioned too, just in case I want to pick up a casual teaching position later. And thanks again. This advice is proving invaluable.
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CarolinaTHeels



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

windowlicker wrote:

CarolinaTHeels - have you ever been to Cúcuta? Sorry if this comes across as being a jerk, be it's just irresponsible to recommend someone who knows little about Colombia to consider living there.


I have not been to Cucuta yet. I plan on visiting the city when I visit Bucaramanga.

The OP asked about some cities without many gingos. Its fairly large and def doesnt have many gringos if any! lol

Why do you think the city is so bad btw for someone to live that isnt a Colombian vet?

@RainingSteel

You can def find salsa classes and spanish classes in other cities not named Bogota. A place like Cali would be great for this. Finding housing might take alil longer but just network (couchsurfing ect) and get some locals to help you and it wont be a prob imo. Personally If I was you I would look to live in another city first. Bogota is too played out and to many gringos there imo. The weather sucks and if you like women, the Rolas (females from Bogota) pale in comparison to all the other females of the country. The Costenas, Calenas, and Paisas are more sexy and fun natured imo!

You seem to have the same goals as me. Have fun, and work little, and enjoy the experience. And not be in a place with a lot of gringos.

Here is the cities I recommend and why.

1) Barranquilla - GREAT location in regards to a short bus ride from Cartagena and Santa Marta. Some of the best looking women the country has to offer. Great nightlife and very few gringos. Only problem is it is hot here!

2) Cali - Salsa capital. Hot women. Good nightlife. Minimal gringos.

3) Pereira - Hot women with the worst reputation in Colombia Wink (good for us!) Great location in relation to Armenia, Manizales, and Medellin. Even Cali isnt that far.

4) Bucaramanga - Lovely city off the beaten path. Good sized to. Only problem is it is abit isolated.

You cant really go wrong with any large city in Colombia imo. But if you want something alil diff without it being touristy and minimal gringos the cities above would be great!
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littlelauren86



Joined: 20 Sep 2011
Posts: 84
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CarolinaTHeels wrote:
I wouldnt say you will have to ROUGH it without a CELTA if you have a degree and are in Bogota. Esp with your experience in Korea. Still should be able to find a job for 1.8 - 2 mil pesos imo.


Oh, I didn't mean financially, but physically with split shifts, visa runs and studying at the same time. That's why I'm thinking of going after I get my cert and applying at colegios/international schools.

Quote:
One final comment - I've given all this advice assuming you're a guy. If you're a girl, I'd be even more negative about your idea of living in a smaller city with a low gringo population. If in fact you are a girl and are thinking of living in any of the cities CarolinaTHeels suggests, I would HIGHLY recommend emailing someone from the British Council and asking if they can put you in touch with a female language assistant who has lived in that city.


I am female and I was thinking of applying to colegios in cities like Cali, Cartagena, maybe Barranquilla, etc. Why? Because I like warm weather and warm people. Though even Bogotá has to be warmer than the ice age winters here in Korealand.

What if you're not blonde or whatever. Actually, it would be interesting because it would be my first country where I look like I could be from there. I do speak Spanish, but obviously I have an accent and as soon as I start talking they'll know I'm not from there.

Also, what kind of foreigners stay in these cities? Is it a diverse group of people ... or mostly men looking to buy women (think the kind of people in Thailand/Philippines)?
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littlelauren86



Joined: 20 Sep 2011
Posts: 84
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainingsteel wrote:

I just spoke with a friend who taught English overseas and he convinced me that moving from place to place isn't such a good idea. He said it would be better to stay in one location and experience one country to the fullest extent, rather than constantly moving and being a perpetual tourist. So I've decided to do the IH course in Bogota.


I'm like this too. I'd rather stay in the same place and get to know it, rather than constantly travel.

But, I think both are equally valid options for you. Many people travel around for a year or so and really enjoy it. It just depends on your personal preferences.
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CarolinaTHeels



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

littlelauren86 wrote:


I am female and I was thinking of applying to colegios in cities like Cali, Cartagena, maybe Barranquilla, etc. Why? Because I like warm weather and warm people. Though even Bogotá has to be warmer than the ice age winters here in Korealand.

What if you're not blonde or whatever. Actually, it would be interesting because it would be my first country where I look like I could be from there. I do speak Spanish, but obviously I have an accent and as soon as I start talking they'll know I'm not from there.

Also, what kind of foreigners stay in these cities? Is it a diverse group of people ... or mostly men looking to buy women (think the kind of people in Thailand/Philippines)?


You wont have to worry about the harassment imo. Its mainly against white females and blondes in particular. This is true for most of LAtin America. I remb walking the streets with two blondes from Australia and man they got cat called every minute!

Not sure about what kind of westerns in particular are in the cities. Id assume a good mix. Def diff from the westerners teaching in Korea. The sex tourists are primarily in Cartagena and Medellin.
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CarolinaTHeels wrote:
Why do you think the city is so bad btw for someone to live that isnt a Colombian vet?


I think I remember from a previous post that you're American. Would you recommend someone who knows nothing about the United States, probably has a very low level of English, and knows absolutely no one in the country to just show up in a city like Detroit, Michigan and just pound the pavement looking for work? Even that comparison is probably unfair as a city like Detroit has way more to offer than Cucutá, and is infinitely more international and less intimidating. Maybe a better comparison would be Gary, Indiana. Cúcuta is a sweltering s***hole, and is a fairly aggressive city (which for Colombia is saying something). Recommending it as a way to experience some "genuine, gringo-free Colombia" is insane. The truth is nearly the opposite - as there are only a small handful of foreigners in the city, there's no one to help soften the blow. If you went with a job already lined up with a reputable organization, or had already been in Colombia for a while, it might be a different story. Just showing up in Cúcuta and looking for work with low language skills and little knowledge about the country is a guaranteed way to make sure you leave Colombia sooner than expected.

littlelauren86 wrote:
I am female and I was thinking of applying to colegios in cities like Cali, Cartagena, maybe Barranquilla, etc. Why? Because I like warm weather and warm people. Though even Bogotá has to be warmer than the ice age winters here in Korealand.

What if you're not blonde or whatever. Actually, it would be interesting because it would be my first country where I look like I could be from there. I do speak Spanish, but obviously I have an accent and as soon as I start talking they'll know I'm not from there.


CarolinaTHeels wrote:
You wont have to worry about the harassment imo. Its mainly against white females and blondes in particular.


Ridiculous. As someone who has spent a lot of time on the coast, trust me, you will get harassed. I've never met a foreign chick (blonde, black, morena, whatever) who would agree with this statement. Not being blonde, you'll get harassed less, but you'll still get harassed. A lot. Cali is probably a better choice.

Here's my rundown of CarolinaTHeels' Colombian cities -

Barranquilla - one of the more livable coastal cities, due to its sizable student population and more international atmosphere (if you're turned off by the international atmosphere comment, you sincerely don't understand the Caribbean coast). A decent number of foreigners work here. Very few backpackers, and with reason - it's dirty and impossible to go anywhere when it rains. There's not really much to see or do. Has a reputation for being dangerous and aggressive.

Cali - Nice city, very nice people, decent sized population of foreigners, but quite dangerous.

Pereira - No reason considering coming here to pound the pavement looking for a job. Look for a job after you've lived in Colombia for a while, or consider it if you have an international job offer. Good housing will probably be tough to find.

Bucaramanga - I have the same things to say about Bucaramanga as Pereira, except that Bucaramanga is a much more pleasant city.



Finally, most people who come to Colombia with the idea of trying to avoid other foreigners don't last long here and when they leave, end up being the most bitter. I say this as someone who loves Colombia, loves Colombians, has lived here for 3 years, and who has no plans to leave anytime soon.
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CarolinaTHeels



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

windowlicker wrote:

I think I remember from a previous post that you're American. Would you recommend someone who knows nothing about the United States, probably has a very low level of English, and knows absolutely no one in the country to just show up in a city like Detroit, Michigan and just pound the pavement looking for work? Even that comparison is probably unfair as a city like Detroit has way more to offer than Cucutá, and is infinitely more international and less intimidating. Maybe a better comparison would be Gary, Indiana. Cúcuta is a sweltering s***hole, and is a fairly aggressive city (which for Colombia is saying something). Recommending it as a way to experience some "genuine, gringo-free Colombia" is insane. The truth is nearly the opposite - as there are only a small handful of foreigners in the city, there's no one to help soften the blow. If you went with a job already lined up with a reputable organization, or had already been in Colombia for a while, it might be a different story. Just showing up in Cúcuta and looking for work with low language skills and little knowledge about the country is a guaranteed way to make sure you leave Colombia sooner than expected.


I wasnt really recommending that he or anyone go to Cucuta. At the very minimum it is hot and isolated as heck. Although for someone it might be adventurous, it is def a large city off the beaten path.

And to be honest I wouldnt recommending anyone to come to Colombia without basic spanish and local connections to help you out. Thats any city.

windowlicker wrote:

Ridiculous. As someone who has spent a lot of time on the coast, trust me, you will get harassed. I've never met a foreign chick (blonde, black, morena, whatever) who would agree with this statement. Not being blonde, you'll get harassed less, but you'll still get harassed. A lot. Cali is probably a better choice.


I think you are a tad over doing it. For a black female I certainly wouldnt let that factor into her decision. Hell, I dont think id tell anyone female to let that be their over-riding factor in excluding one of the best regions of the country, the coast.

windowlicker wrote:

Here's my rundown of CarolinaTHeels' Colombian cities -

Barranquilla - one of the more livable coastal cities, due to its sizable student population and more international atmosphere (if you're turned off by the international atmosphere comment, you sincerely don't understand the Caribbean coast). A decent number of foreigners work here. Very few backpackers, and with reason - it's dirty and impossible to go anywhere when it rains. There's not really much to see or do. Has a reputation for being dangerous and aggressive.

Cali - Nice city, very nice people, decent sized population of foreigners, but quite dangerous.

Pereira - No reason considering coming here to pound the pavement looking for a job. Look for a job after you've lived in Colombia for a while, or consider it if you have an international job offer. Good housing will probably be tough to find.

Bucaramanga - I have the same things to say about Bucaramanga as Pereira, except that Bucaramanga is a much more pleasant city.


I disagree with you on Pereira. Plenty of reasons to live here. Coffee region, close to Medellin, Manizales, and Armenia. Nice weather. No tourist. Nice sized city with beautiful women with a reputation for being the easiest in all of Colombia.
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MNguy



Joined: 01 Feb 2010
Posts: 127

PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cucuta is not a place you want to be. At all. I would consider giving Neiva a shot if I were to come back. Bucaramaga is nice, Tunja worked for me, it's a university town and close to Villa de Levya and Paipa, and about two hours from Bogota by bus.
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CarolinaTHeels wrote:

I think you are a tad over doing it. For a black female I certainly wouldnt let that factor into her decision. Hell, I dont think id tell anyone female to let that be their over-riding factor in excluding one of the best regions of the country, the coast.


I personally know two foreign, black females who have lived on the coast. One really likes it and is still there, the other hated it and left as soon as she could. Both would firmly disagree with you about black girls not getting harassed, and both would agree that the machismo on the coast is at close to intolerable levels for a female of any color. Bottom line is it doesn't matter what your skin color is, it just better be thick: as a female, you need to be tough as nails to put up with costeńo culture for any extended period of time - if you can handle it, the coast can be a very rewarding place to live...but it is very definitely not for everyone. Most of the girls I know that have lived there have been with the British Council language assistant program, and most of them have left Colombia wishing they had been assigned to a different part of the country.

CarolinaTHeels wrote:

I disagree with you on Pereira. Plenty of reasons to live here. Coffee region, close to Medellin, Manizales, and Armenia. Nice weather. No tourist. Nice sized city with beautiful women with a reputation for being the easiest in all of Colombia.


So your criteria for selecting Pereira as a great Colombian city is based on some jokes you heard about girls from Pereira during your few weeks spent traveling in Colombia? Please have more respect for Colombia than to post crap like this. This is an ESL forum, not a prepago website.

The city itself isn't anything special. The region is certainly nice. Could be an okay place to live if you had a decent job. My point is that showing up and pounding the pavement in Pereira is pointless. You've got maybe two high schools in the city worth working for, and probably no universities that are worth anything. So you're left with a handful of crummy institutes that won't get you a visa and probably pay peanuts. Meanwhile, finding good housing will be tough. Again, if you were with some sort of program or were applying to some job posting in the city, it might be worth a shot. Showing up and pounding the pavement probably isn't.
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MNguy wrote:
I would consider giving Neiva a shot if I were to come back. Bucaramaga is nice, Tunja worked for me


I'd second this.

Still, it seems nearly pointless to pound the pavement in any of the smaller cities. Any job outside of the major cities (Bogota, Medellin, Barranquilla, Cali, or Cartagena...Bucaramanga could maybe be considered a major city, as well) that is worth anything will either be found from abroad, or will be discovered while you're living and working in a larger city.
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CarolinaTHeels



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

windowlicker wrote:

I personally know two foreign, black females who have lived on the coast. One really likes it and is still there, the other hated it and left as soon as she could. Both would firmly disagree with you about black girls not getting harassed, and both would agree that the machismo on the coast is at close to intolerable levels for a female of any color. Bottom line is it doesn't matter what your skin color is, it just better be thick: as a female, you need to be tough as nails to put up with costeńo culture for any extended period of time - if you can handle it, the coast can be a very rewarding place to live...but it is very definitely not for everyone. Most of the girls I know that have lived there have been with the British Council language assistant program, and most of them have left Colombia wishing they had been assigned to a different part of the country.


As a foreign chick, you def need a thick skin in Colombia regardless of the city, and that goes for pretty much all of Latin America. You will get cat-called ALOT, and there is a strong chance of other minor harassment. I wouldnt let this stop me from exploring and enjoying some of the best countries / cities on the planet.

windowlicker wrote:

So your criteria for selecting Pereira as a great Colombian city is based on some jokes you heard about girls from Pereira during your few weeks spent traveling in Colombia? Please have more respect for Colombia than to post crap like this. This is an ESL forum, not a prepago website.


I guess you missed the other reasons why I said Pereira is a great Colombian city.

1) Great weather
2) Great location in the coffee region with Manizales, Armenia, and Medellin close by.
3) Good nightlife
4) Beautiful women
5) Off the gringo trail

The joke about the females from Pereira is just an added perk. And spare me with the respect for Colombia. I have the upmost respect for Colombia. Btw prepago is p4p and I dont think anyone here is advocating or discussing that so im not sure why you brought that up. But lets not kid ourself, any normal straight guy is gonna be concerned / interested about the women, nightlife, and competition in a city.

windowlicker wrote:

The city itself isn't anything special. The region is certainly nice. Could be an okay place to live if you had a decent job. My point is that showing up and pounding the pavement in Pereira is pointless. You've got maybe two high schools in the city worth working for, and probably no universities that are worth anything. So you're left with a handful of crummy institutes that won't get you a visa and probably pay peanuts. Meanwhile, finding good housing will be tough. Again, if you were with some sort of program or were applying to some job posting in the city, it might be worth a shot. Showing up and pounding the pavement probably isn't.


RainingSteel doesnt need a decent job with the bankroll he is working with. Any job will pretty much do so long as its atleast paying 1mil. Nothing wrong with someone going to Pereira and looking for a job if they like the city imo. A local would easily be able to assist you in finding a room.
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reddevil79



Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 201
Location: Up in them Mixteca Mountains

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a member of the “normal straight guy community”, the perceived attractiveness of the women (and any potential competition I might have come up against) didn’t figure in my decision making when choosing where to go for my last job. I don’t think it’s true to say that every guy thinks along those lines, or is it just me?

Quote:
The joke about the females from Pereira is just an added perk


I wonder what the women of Pereira would think of this “joke”.

Still, there’s no denying that there are some folk out there who place the chances of hooking up with locals high in their list of priorities when choosing where to work.
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CarolinaTHeels



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

reddevil79 wrote:
As a member of the “normal straight guy community”, the perceived attractiveness of the women (and any potential competition I might have come up against) didn’t figure in my decision making when choosing where to go for my last job. I don’t think it’s true to say that every guy thinks along those lines, or is it just me?


I dont think anyone is implying such. You might not base where you live on that, but you will be interested in how the women look and act at the very least. Its only normal....

reddevil79 wrote:

Still, there’s no denying that there are some folk out there who place the chances of hooking up with locals high in their list of priorities when choosing where to work.


Exactly, which is why its relevant to mention / discuss.
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotá, Colombia

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CarolinaTHeels wrote:

I guess you missed the other reasons why I said Pereira is a great Colombian city.

1) Great weather


I spent about two weeks in the coffee region this past December. It rains all the time. According to wikipedia, Pereira (2,750 mm of rain) gets more than three times the annual rainfall of the "miserably rainy" city of Bogotá (793.7 mm). I was expecting Pereira would be more rainy, but not that much...I'll take it back if someone else can find a more reliable source. My guess is the city doesn't have much of a drainage system either. It's a hilly city. Hope you're spending most of your time near the top of those hills.

CarolinaTHeels wrote:
But lets not kid ourself, any normal straight guy is gonna be concerned / interested about the women, nightlife, and competition in a city.


So it seems like what you're saying is that you consider other foreigners to be "competition" for getting with girls rather than valuable resources to meet people, find jobs, get housing tips, and be in the know about what's going on in the city. Most people won't get very far with this attitude.

CarolinaTHeels wrote:
RainingSteel doesnt need a decent job with the bankroll he is working with. Any job will pretty much do so long as its atleast paying 1mil. Nothing wrong with someone going to Pereira and looking for a job if they like the city imo. A local would easily be able to assist you in finding a room.


And here is what it all comes down to. What local? What room? He wants salsa classes and Spanish lessons. Where's he gonna find that? Even if someone were happy working in a crummy institute for just six months until their tourist visa ran out, Pereira would still be a terrible city to do this. There are no young professionals or students with spare bedrooms in their apartments you can rent. All these people live with their families, or are living in the major cities. Your options would either be to rent your own (probably unfurnished) apartment, which would be expensive on an institute salary, or else live with a family. And while you're looking for housing, where will you live in the meantime? There's no hostel style place used to dealing with foreigners to help orient you. The budget places will probably be very low quality and in the more unpleasant parts of town. There's not a lot of activities going on or places to go to meet people. The people you're likely to meet may be very friendly, but aren't the type of people most foreigners will find it easy to form serious friendships with. With a good job and people at the job to help take you under their wing a bit, meeting people and finding decent housing might be easier. Without one, it's very possible you'll find the city to be very, very lonely.
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