Naomi’s Hostel Experience in Cartagena
“It showed me even more and made me more aware of what matters in life and how important it is to leave your comfort zone, evolve, expand your horizons and see the world. I have gained so much from this trip.”
Dive into Naomi’s vivid account of her time at our partner hostel in Colombia. She participated in the Hostel Experience in Cartagena for a month and wrote this experience report to capture her experiences. Above all, the people and the colorful, artistic city, made her stay abroad unforgettable.
For a long time I have dreamed of traveling to Latin America. When I finished my studies, I seized the opportunity to finally make this dream come true. Before starting the trip, my thoughts and feelings were characterized by great anticipation, excitement, curiosity, but also uncertainty and respect to travel to Colombia alone. I had many questions that accompanied me during the preparation for the trip: Will I quickly make connections there? Will my language skills be sufficient to communicate with the people there? Will I feel comfortable? What can I expect? Of course, I couldn’t find an answer to all these questions at first. So I simply decided to be open to everything that was to come and to fully engage in the travel experience with great pleasure and joy.
MY FIRST DAYS
I will never forget the first evening when I finally arrived after the long journey. After I was shown my room and unpacked the first things to already feel a bit like home, I discovered next to our room, which I shared with other volunteers, a staircase that led to a roof terrace. I went up the stairs and was all alone on this terrace and the view was beautiful. At that moment I realized: you made it, you are on the other side of the world – now the adventure begins. The first days were super overwhelming. A flood of new impressions came over me, but in an exciting and positive way. Many new people, foreign life and food cultures, the climate, the refreshing joie de vivre and warmth of the people, foreign languages. I was able to learn to love the country with all its facets so quickly. In the first days I was still free and during this time I was able to get to know many other volunteers in the hostel who came from different countries. My Spanish was quickly put to the test. Thanks to the great people who work in the hostel, I settled in super fast and quickly felt like part of a big family.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
The hostel where I worked is located in Cartagena, a charming city situated on the Caribbean coast. At the hostel, I worked 6 days a week helping with breakfast. This meant getting up early, but at the same time it gave me a lot of the rest of the day. My tasks at breakfast were for example taking orders, preparing pancakes or juices and the like. I also enjoyed helping out in other areas. The work was always fun. Especially because of my colleagues and their contagious joie de vivre, I was happy to have this time with them every day. I am grateful for all the experiences I was able to make during this time, and especially for the people from Colombia, as well as from all over the world, who showed me their world of life and also let me immerse myself in it. I was able to gain many great experiences, gain new perspectives on life, discover my love for Spanish and meet a lot of different people from all over the world.
MY FREE TIME
I quickly lost my heart to this city. There is so much to discover in Cartagena, it is colorful, full of life, dance and art. In my free time I spent a lot of time in the city with people from the hostel, my colleagues, or friends from the language course. We tried out and discovered many cafes, restaurants, salsa bars, beaches and other places. I also spent a lot of time in the hostel with the guests, as well as participating in yoga classes, dance classes, pub crawls or karaoke nights. Especially the evenings when we cooked together, talked for hours about life and sat in the pool on the roof terrace until late at night, I will miss the most. There’s always something going on at the hostel and I quickly realized that even though I came here alone, I never felt lonely or alone. Thanks to the great people around me, the hostel and Cartagena so quickly felt like my home, and turned out to be quite a magical place for me. On days off, we often took trips to nearby islands, like Isla de Tierra Bomba, Baru, or Rosario Island. We swam with plankton at night, went on snorkeling tours, watched animals like monkeys, iguanas, crabs and sloths, saw beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and got to call it home for that time. One highlight was a birthday of a local colleague that I was invited to. It was a lot of fun to be able to experience a birthday the Colombian way, to taste typical Colombian food and to learn Colombian dances.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE JOURNEY
I experienced Cartagena, as well as the rest of Colombia, as a different world: a world that is open to all people. Tolerance and openness to the world are values that I was able to experience on a daily basis throughout my time. The time in Colombia has left a lasting impression on me. Especially the joie de vivre and the attitude of sometimes not taking things so seriously and enjoying and living life have fascinated me again and again. Hopefully, this insight will continue to accompany me in my life in the future. This time has also shown me how differently life can look and how differently happiness can be defined. And yet, how similar we can all be at the same time. It has shown me even more and made me more aware of what matters in life and how important it is to leave your comfort zone, evolve, expand your horizons and see the world. I have gained so much from this trip.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE LATIN AMERICA
Latin America offers so much: a great language, open-minded, fun-loving and cosmopolitan people, a culture full of surprises, delicious food and breathtaking nature. If you get involved, you will quickly learn to love this country and take it into your heart. A trip is characterized above all by encounters. Through the encounters with different people from all over the world and from Colombia, my time became a very special and valuable time. A time that I will never forget and has enriched my life tremendously.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
Such a trip gives you the chance to develop yourself, to see things differently, to broaden your perspectives and horizons and to sharpen your view of what really matters in life. My tip: Just be open to new things, new people, new cultures and dare to try new things!