21 February 2018
From Whangaparaoa to Colombia
“I have improved my Spanish so much that I am fairly fluent, and have learnt a lot about the history and culture of Colombia.” Eve Bain, 23, spent 2017 undertaking a two semester exchange in Colombia after receiving a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Latin America.
I love Colombia – the people are some of the friendliest I have ever met and the culture is so vibrant and rich.
I had always planned to study in Medellín since reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude and learning about the city in my Spanish class at university. Medellín has experienced a period of intense social and urban transformation, and I really wanted to immerse myself in a completely different culture and become fluent in Spanish.
I am studying Political Science on exchange at Universidad EAFIT, an extremely modern and impressive university. It’s been fascinating to study political science during the peace process in Colombia as well and talk to Colombians about their perspectives on the process too.
A lot of degrees are bilingual, with classes in both Spanish and English. I am really proud of my progress so far – I have improved my Spanish so much now that I am fairly fluent, and have learnt a lot about the history and culture of Colombia and the region more generally.
As well as taking Spanish-language classes while teaching English to local children each week. I use New Zealand culture and history as a platform, baking Anzac cookies with them, teaching them some Kiwi slang as well as rugby and kapa haka!
"I truly believe that I am gaining skills that will be valuable for my future."
New Zealand is known as a paradise on the other side of the world. People often don’t know a lot about New Zealand, but they will know Lord of the Rings was filmed there and that our country is beautiful. People know of New Zealand as having a high-quality education system and also a great destination to go to learn English.
It sounds cheesy, but I have really come to appreciate the quality of my education in New Zealand! In my classes at EAFIT, even though they are in Spanish, I have received top marks due to my ability to think critically and work independently. These are skills that are emphasised in New Zealand.
It’s also been great to have the opportunity to connect with Kiwis here through the scholarship. I even had dinner with New Zealand’s Ambassador to Chile and New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner for South America.
I truly believe that I am gaining skills that will be valuable for New Zealand in the future, particularly for my future goals of diplomacy and international dispute settlement.