Under the Radar: Boyacá
When applying to the Colombia Billingue program, I left my placement preference almost completely open. The only request: I didn’t want an extremely hot climate. Personally, beaches and sweltering heat aren’t my thing. I’m from Michigan, and it is winter for nearly half the year, so I’m just not conditioned for it.
I was placed in the city of Duitama, located in the beautiful department of Boyacá. While it doesn’t have the luxury of being a big-named city, and I couldn’t do much pre-move research, going in blind was great choice. A few reasons why I fell in love:
Every morning I woke to the wonderful site of rolling green mountains. Boyacá is sprawled across the Andes, and is the agricultural hub of Colombia. Without large cities marring view, you’re constantly rewarded with breathtaking vistas. Bus rides are a breeze when you have views such as these outside your window.
“Boyacences,” as they’re called, were some of the nicest and most easygoing people, and they’re very proud of their homeland. In a country like Colombia, that says a lot. The people come from close-knit, hardworking families, which reminded me a lot of my Midwestern USA upbringing. They are very respectful and kind, and I was welcomed in every corner. Fun fact: they are the only department to use the phrase “Su Merced” (translated as “Your Majesty”), persevered from Spanish colonial days.
I Never Felt Claustrophobic
Given Duitama’s close proximity to Bogotá (3-4 hours by bus), I was fortunate to be able to travel around Colombia with ease. I could frequent Bogotá for some nightlife, or to use it as a launch pad for a quick flight (or overnight bus) to another part of the country.
My Placement School
Boyacá has continuously thrived in education. So much that it was ranked number one out of all departments of Colombia. The students are extremely respectful, and the classrooms were equipped with great resources not always found in other cities’ schools. My school in particular was lucky enough to have a visit from the Minister of Education herself, Yaneth Giha.
Author: Alan Hester
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