I was familiar with the cultural shock concept before coming here, but man, did it punch me in the face at my arrival! Here are some things that I never thought I’ll see/find in Colombia:
1. You don’t have to pack your own groceries. Most of the supermarkets have two employees at the cash desk. One cashier and one who packs your stuff. Oh, ok then, I’ll just wait here sipping my soda while you finish. WTF?!
2. Full shopping cart and you’re alone? Have no fear, your ass is saved. There are supermarkets where an employee follows you home with your cart while you lead the way speaking on your phone. Princess much? Far too kind, Colombia!
3. CNN might be the only TV channel that is not doubled in Spanish (insert Hallelujah sound here). Because almost everything else is. And sometimes, they don’t really bother to assign a female voice to the female character speaking. What, you’re saying a man can’t do it? [yet another reason why Colombia struggles with the lack of English speakers in the country. They are working on it though.]
4. McDonald’s french fries suck. There, I’ve said it! I started to eat McDonald’s for its french fries and toys in the Happy Meal. McDonald’s in Colombia? Deal breaker!
5. The portions are huge. Depending on the course, at least double than the ones in Romania. Did I tell you about bandeja paisa, the typical dish in Antioquia? 12 ingredients in the same plate? Say that again, I dare you! No, better, I dare you to eat it. ALL.
6. Clubs close their doors at 2 am. I don’t know about you people, but where I’m from, we usually see the sunrise on our way home.
7. If you get robbed, policemen will recommend you to negotiate with the thief if you happen to find him. They’ll take your complaint and all, but they won’t sweat in trying to find your stolen object. Bigger things are happening in the country you know, like murders, kidnappings and all.
8. Rice, spaghetti, smashed potatoes and sometimes meat lie together happily in the very same plate. Uhm, carbs alert, anyone? No? Oh, ok.
9. There’s no wine culture around here. This is one of the things that hurt me the most. I come from a country where wine is almost the base of our needs pyramid. We produce wine and we take it very seriously. Not only once did I cause concern in Colombians’ eyes towards my frustration on their lacking wine culture. Thank God they import really good Chilean and Argentinian wine though.
10. Boys, boys, boys (you started to sing the song, didn’t you?). Big no for me. Like you’re-breathing-my-air-please-go-away no. Meet a guy and expect to be bugged until you give him your number. To chat with you on WhatsApp, not for anything else, for God’s sake! Don’t answer him and he’ll text you. Don’t text him back and he’ll call you. Don’t pick up and he’ll hunt you down on Facebook. Or show up at your door with a dumb smile on his face and flowers in his hands. Yes, thank you, but no.
I sense this is just an episode, there’s a reason why Colombia keeps making foreigners come back. I like to say it does things to people.