Preparing to Volunteer in Colombia

Written by  September 20, 2012
With only one week to departure, Nadine discovers that there's a problem with her flights.

The final days before a big journey are such a whirlwind of emotion! Excited to leave, sorry to say goodbye and worried about having everything in order. Seven days to go and I think I have covered all of the important stuff: I’ve got my flight ticket, a valid passport and travel insurance. I’ve also been to see my family doctor to get a couple of the recommended vaccinations, just in case.

Still, I feel as though I’m missing something and that makes me nervous. The next task will be packing and I only have a vague idea of what I will need. Apparently shorts and flip-flops are a definite no-no unless you want to be immediately singled out as a gawping tourist. Trying to blend in a bit never hurt and I’d like to avoid drawing unwanted attention possible. To be honest finding out what the sartorial norms are will be an adventure all itself!

After a year and a half of dragging my feet I have also purchased a new camera. If there’s one thing I regret about trips I’ve made in the past it is the lack of decent photos I took! This time I’m going to make an effort to take some good pictures and not rely on my handy (but poor quality) mobile camera.

What have I learned this week? Always check your flight schedule before your departure! Slightly obvious but very good advice nonetheless. Especially if you have connecting flights with different airlines. I’m usually pretty relaxed about confirming flight statuses and times with a quick check the day before I depart. This time I checked early and lucky I did. There was a small problem. Nothing urgent but I’m glad I dealt with it now rather than later.

My travel itinerary looks a little like this: I fly from Toronto to Bogota, where I pick up a connecting flight to Medellin and then back the same way, Medellin to Bogota and Bogota to Toronto. My departure flights both seem to be fine. However, the second of my return flights (Bogota to Toronto), which I originally booked for the 31st of December was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day, January 1st. Not a huge problem but my first flight out of Medellin was still booked for the 31st. So what would you do? Stay in Bogota an extra day and arrange for a hotel or move the first flight back a day? I decided to move my first flight back a day. Adventurous as many seem to believe I am, staying a night alone in a foreign city I have never been to before really makes me nervous.

Lately I’ve also been toying around with the idea of signing up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad. I’ve never done this before and knew nothing about it until someone at AIESC Western mentioned it. I don’t feel like it is necessary but it might help put my parents’ minds at ease!

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Nadine Van Deuren

Nadine Van Deuren is a recent graduate of Western University who is spending three months in Medellín, Colombia through AIESEC. While there she will be working with students at the Fundación Educativa CENSA Juan Sebastián Gutiérrez Bustamante to improve their English langauge skills. Her goals? To improve her very basic Spanish, learn more about Colombia and hopefully pick up some salsa skills. In her spare time she likes to dabble in other languages, write letters and make plans for future travels.

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