By Juanita Botero (7th semester FIGRI student, Interculturality elective)
When I first decided to pack my bags and move to a different city for my undergraduate degree, I didn’t think much about the differences between the place and people that I’d meet and interact with for the following 5 years of my life. Of course, I had thought about washing my clothes, cooking, doing groceries, for that was what was expected about moving alone.
Throughout my life, I had always heard about how different “rolos”, or people from Bogotá, were from “paisas” or people from Medellín or Antioquia. But I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to those stereotypes; in the end we were all Colombians. How different could we be?
It turns out, we were different, even if we did share a lot of common ground as well. The first difference I noticed was how reserved they were. In Medellín, especially in my family and the school where I studied for 14 years, people were loud and outgoing. Even if you didn’t know them, they treated you like lifelong friends; there was a sense of belonging even if you didn’t belong.
When I arrived in Bogotá, I noticed that this was somehow different. It was not that they were rude, like some people had warned me, but they did have a way about them, not loud, not instantly friendly, just guarded. It was strange, because I was used to the warmness of my people, but I didn’t dislike that distance either.
When I moved to Bogotá, it was a time of rapid changes for me. I had graduated high school and started university in a different city, away from my family, my pets, and my lifelong friends and yet, I got used to this a little bit too fast. When I realized all the changes that I had gone through, it was already too late to back up.
I remember perfectly the day I moved. I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t have those butterflies in the pit of my stomach that used to visit me when something new and exciting was happening. But they did come, exactly one year after I first moved. I started noticing more differences between rolos and paisas. And I started missing my old home; I started questioning myself. Had I made the right decision? I started missing the flavor of the food I had eaten for 19 years of my life. Here it just wasn’t right. I started missing all the green I was used to seeing every day on my commute. Here it just wasn’t enough. I started missing the warmness and tough skin of my people. For me, here, it was just too cold and people were just too touchy-feely.
But, as I had been before, I was wrong. It wasn’t too cold, they weren’t touchy-feely, the food wasn’t bad; I was just homesick, as I hadn’t been back for a year. I got the sudden urge to be back in Medellín, and I did go back. But as soon as I was bored back home, I started missing a lot of things that I had back here in Bogotá: friends I’d made, the cold weather and the freedom I had gained.
When people ask me if I love Bogotá, I will always answer the same “I love Bogotá, it’s my home, but my heart will always be in Medellín”
And I guess I now have two homes; the first is the one that built me, that saw me grow. The second is the one that I made for myself, in a completely different city.