Living Well, Learning More, and Making Friends in Medellín

Since moving to Medellín, my stress level has dropped from “off the chart” to “barely exists.” I credit that to several things, especially the low cost of living. My costs are 60% less than what they were back in Maine.

Needing less money for daily living eliminates a lot of the anxiety about spending down my nest egg. I can easily afford the $4 ticket to enjoy a movie, $15 a month for my cellphone bill, or $10 for a week’s worth of produce at the farmers’ market.

I am much more active, thanks to the perfect year-round, spring-like weather. When I lived in Maine, I was shuttered up in the house during the long, cold winter months, only venturing out to go to work or run necessary errands. But now, with Medellín daytime temperatures in the mid-70s F to low 80s F, I spend quite a bit of my time walking around the city, joining friends for mountain hikes on the weekends, and even taking the occasional horseback riding trip.

I don’t have to scrimp on luxuries, either. I have a lady come once a week to do the heavy, deep cleaning of the bathrooms, the kitchen, and wash the windows. At the end of the day it shines, and I’ve paid only $17 for the service.

Living in Medellín has had a positive impact on my quality of life in many ways. I’ve even gone back to school!

If you’d told me years ago that I would be taking an art history class in Medellín, Colombia (and in Spanish, to boot) I’d have said you were crazy. And yet that’s exactly what I’ve been doing at EAFIT University since the middle of August.

The program is relaxed, informative, and a lot of fun. The course is part of the Saberes de Vida (adult education) division of the university, and it’s a low-pressure affair. No exams, no papers to write, and no grades.

I spend three hours every Friday morning viewing multimedia presentations about the great European masters like Rembrandt and DaVinci, learning the mysteries of the Sphynx and the pyramids, and being introduced to social-impact artists like Frida Kahlo and Doris Salcedo.

Writing for International Living means I spend a fair amount of my time meeting fellow expats and speaking English. I signed up for the art history class because, of course, I wanted to learn more about art. But I also wanted to improve my Spanish vocabulary and meet more locals.

One of the best things about living in Medellín is the warm, welcoming Colombian people. The class is made up of me and 15 middle-aged Colombian women. During the break we chat about our lives, current events, and our families, while we sip coffee and snack on a pastry. I’ve made several new friends.

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