As a Spanish Teaching major, I knew that studying abroad not only posed an opportunity for me to explore the world, but also allowed me an opportunity to immerse myself in the Spanish language and the cultures of South America. I chose ISEP because it was the program that was suggested by my host university, Montana State University, and it made financial sense. I was ultimately placed at Universidad Icesi in Cali, Colombia and I was slightly disappointed. I had had my heart set on Argentina, but now I am beyond happy to be here in Colombia. I have a unique opportunity to disprove negative stereotypes about Colombia and show people the beauty of this country and its people.
Here are five things you must do in the city of Cali:
1. Shop the market at Loma de la Cruz.
This beautiful, open air artisan market is a must see. The people selling handmade shoes and jewelry are kind and genuine. If you look hard enough, you can find some treasures! Be sure to brush up on your Spanish bartering language because these vendors may try to raise a price to a foreigner! But they will definitely barter with you if you try.
2. Eat empanadas at Obelisco.
Empanadas are great no matter where you get them from, but Obelisco has the best ones in Cali. Perfect for a relatively cheap Caleño meal!
3. Drink jugo de lulo.
By far the best fruit juice I have ever had. Lulo tastes similar to kiwi and makes for one delicious juice. You can find jugo de lulo at almost every restaurant or at the grocery store to have it at home!
4. Check out the zoo.
El Zoológico de Cali is one of my favorite places to visit here in Cali. It is located in the northern part of the city, so if you’re in the south prepare for a bit of a car ride! It takes about 30-45 minutes by car (depending on traffic) but it is well worth the trip! To walk around the entire zoo takes about 1-2 hours, and the exhibits are amazing. They have many animals you don’t usually see at a zoo in the U.S.! The zoo is separated by themed areas: Australia, the Savannah, an aviary and more! You definitely want to make at least one trip to this zoo.
5. Drink coffee!
Any visit to Colombia should include some serious coffee consumption. Iced coffee, frappuccinos, hot coffee, americanos– you name it, they’ve got it. And it’s better than any other coffee I’ve ever had. So, when in Cali get yourself a nice cup of joe and enjoy the sunshine for a while!
I am excited to continue feeling the incredibly kind and welcoming nature of the Colombian culture, and to keep exploring Cali and the rest of the country!
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