Going into the trip, I had no expectations, or very little at that. From the outside world Colombia is only ever negatively spoken of. When I told my grandparents of the trip the first words out of their mouth were about the country’s past and how that somehow still reflects its present. Coming into Medellin, I was pleasantly surprised. Music filled the streets, fairy lights glittered the road, and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of security. Each day I feel in love with the country just a little bit more. I feel in love with the huge food portions, the cable cars, the language, the art, the salsa, the music, the people, and of course, the ants. I was overwhelmed with the countries ability to transform itself from its past into a place full of culture, something that the outside world is still incredibly ignorant to. Over the past week, its safe to say that my little to no expectations were completely blown out of proportion.
Medellin’s focus on innovation was truly inspiring. Each business we visited had a primary focus on innovation and using it to transform the perception of the country. Communa Trece works to give the younger generation opportunities through graffiti, Ruta N collaborates with other businesses to add value to Medellin residents, and Portofolio Verde works to develop a balance between economic gain and environmental protection, and the list continues. After visiting Medellin, I’d say New Zealand needs to step up its game in regards to innovation. One of the biggest take away’s from the trip surround the concept of relationships. The majority of the companies we visited claimed that relationships are valued higher or equal to profit, which is something I believe can greatly benefit New Zealand. Overall, with each company visit I was ever more surprised at the governments work to implement innovation in order to increase the country’s economy, but more importantly, to change its reputation. In my opinion, they have succeeded.
I’ve never travelled to a country where I’ve felt completely comfortable. From the first day of the trip I could picture myself living in Medellin, and not just for a month, but for an extended period of time. It was a combination of the buildings, the music on the streets, the kindness of the people, and the atmosphere of the university that made me feel at home. I wasn’t expecting this before I arrived. Now that I’m home all I can think about is how much I miss Medellin and I’m already planning my next trip away. In regards to the business visits, I tried my hardest to take advantage of this incredible opportunity I was given. I found myself genuinely interested in almost all businesses. Not that I would fake my interest but I didn’t think I would enjoy some, but I did! I learnt that water is definitely my saviour, that I can not survive in the heat, and that I love every kind of food. I think the biggest takeaway from the trip is my change in goals. I’m now going to study international business and entrepreneurship within my commerce degree and I will be taking full advantage of my chance to learn Spanish through my global studies degree. Mostly, I learnt what it meant to be both physically and mentally exhausted, but in the best way possible!