From Nomad to Expat: The Next Chapter

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. – Miriam Beard

Times are a-changin’.

For the past four years, I have been propelled by an unseen force (otherwise known as restlessness) into the next town, the next country, the next continent. Travel was a high, and the longer I did it, the harder it became to stop, the more natural it seemed, and the more necessary to life.

But the momentum has slowed. The act of packing, traveling, checking in, and wandering around, has become a routine just like any other.

Llano Grande

shot in Llano Grande on a photography field trip

I’ve now been in Medellin for the past five months. This is a record I haven’t broken since my time in Australia in 2009.

It’s been nice. Instead of feeling bored by the same bars and restaurants, hanging out with the same people, and seeing the same places over and over, I feel content.

I like knowing so many people in the city. Recognizing people on the street is a novelty. And it’s been pretty fascinating to receive feedback from my friends about who I am compared to my self-perception of myself.

Side note: Valid external feedback comes from being in someone’s presence over time, which is an experience I haven’t had in years. Long-term travel does trippy things to your mind, a topic I will address in a future post.

I always tell people that Colombia is the “tierra de mi alma“. When I’m not here, I miss it. So the solution to that problem is: why leave?

As my views toward hardcore travel changes, my interest in photography is increasing. That’s why I’ll be staying in the city on a student visa to continue studying photography for the next couple of years.

When I started studying at the beginning of this year, my goal was to answer two questions: Do I have potential to be a good photographer? and Does it interest me enough to hold my attention over the long term? The answer to both questions is yes, and I can’t wait to continue the learning process.

I’m also going to be focusing more energy into expanding my online empire. Medellin is a great city for entrepreneurs (female ones, too) and the untapped potential Colombia offers is exciting and inspiring. I hope to be a part of her growth in the coming years.

This summer, I’ll be heading back to the U.S. for a few weeks to visit my parents in Tampa, my sister in Orlando, and to spend a long weekend in New York City. I’m also going to be buying a better camera than I have now (note to Canon users: would love to get your feedback on the Rebel T3i vs T2i).

What this means for Jasmine Wanders

Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere! My blog will transform into an expat-centered blog as opposed to a traditional travel blog (and I’ll be re-branding to reflect the change soon). You can also expect more photo essays and musings about the idiosyncrasies of life in Paisalandia.

I also want to shout out my readers. My fan base is growing and I want to thank you all for your support, emails, comments, likes, tweets, and all the love! Feel free to reach out to me whenever you have questions or comments. I love hearing from you all!

  • Adam

    How exciting! I read countless blogs, multiple Colombian news sites, watch Colombian TV, and most importantly, follow la seleccion very closely. I must say, your blog has always interested me the most out of all the blogs out there, and I’m excited to hear about your *gasp* settling down in Medellin. I’ve only been to Colombia twice, for a total of 4 weeks, but I just knew I had fallen in love with the beautiful country and the absolutely wonderful people. I’m currently planning a trip to Bogota, Medellin, Bucaramanga, and then up to Valledupar y La Guajira, and not an hour goes by when I don’t think about it. I can’t wait to be able to move down there in a year after I finish up some things here in the states! Chao, Adam

  • Congrats Jasmine :) Reading this post a quote by Paul Theroux immediately came to mind:

    “Travel is at its most rewarding when it ceases to be about your
    reaching a destination and becomes indistinguishable from living your
    life.”

    I’d say good luck with the transition, but it looks like it has already been made. This post is merely a formality!

  • Thanks Casey :) You’re right, just a formality.

  • I hope you enjoy your trip Adam! Thanks for your compliment, I really appreciate it :)

  • Hey, congrats Jasmine! I’ve followed your blog for quite some time and your voice from abroad is a motivation to entering the nomadic lifestyle.  I can’t wait to read about your adventures in Medellin.
    But I have to ask, if you could pick one place in the world to be a permanent Ex-pat. Where would it be?

    As for your cannon question, I recommend the Rebel T2i. It’s still lighter than the new model and we find that it’s better for macro shots and gives you more control over the shutter speed than the T3i. I work in a photo lab where we sell cameras and print photos, feel free to give me a shout if you have any more specific questions.

  • Hey James, this is definitely where I would be! That’s why I chose it… I just can’t get enough of this place.

    I actually invested in the T2i so I’m glad I made a good choice!

  • I think you’ve hit on something really true here. All travelers have to
    decide where their limit is when it comes to planning and independence.
    The language barrier has got to be one of the most intimidating aspects
    of travel and so I can see how people choose essentially to have
    someone there to translate for them.

  • Bunny

    We’ve been researching different spots for a possible expat adventure. Was interested in Cuenca, Ecuador but am growing concerned about some of the things you addressed in your Vilca post. We’re looking for something more real, more authentic, not a gated up community where no one speaks a word of Spanish. The State Dept website actually describes the great Gringo influx into Ecuador . I hear that Medellin is very expensive, though.  Do you think a married couple could be comfortable in Medellin on, say, a monthly budget of $2500? Is that ridiculous question? We’re in our late 40s, so not “old old” but old enough to prefer some comfort and style – e.g. larger house or apartment (for visitors)..maybe not Poblado, but a nicer, quieter neighborhood, the ability to do things, eat out, etc. 

  • Hi Bunny, I think $2500 for a couple in Medellin would be fine. You could look in some other neighborhoods outside of Poblado, and if you decide to furnish an apartment yourself, your budget will be more than enough. There are foreigners here of course but not so many that you can’t escape them when you want to. Especially if you choose a neighborhood off the beaten path, you won’t see any at all. I’d suggest you come here for a couple of months first with your intended budget and see how you go.

  • Matthew B

    Hi Jasmine and congrats on finding a place that you enjoy enough to settle down in.  Maybe you can help me with some advice.  I plan on moving to Medellin in August.  Would I be able to find a decent apartment in the $200-$300 usd range?  When I rent in Medellin will I have to turn on the lights in my name?  Is it easy to get high-speed internet and cable tv as a foreigner?  I have a canon dslr camera but I know nothing about photography.  When I use it I basically just set it to auto-focus and snap pictures.  How much would you charge me to give me a photography workshop to teach me some of your advanced photography techniques?  I would really like to improve my photography skills.

  • Bunny

    Jasmine, thanks very much for your response. We will definitely check it out. I’ve been reading about spots in EC, but my big fear is that the country has been taken over by gangs of norteamericano realtors and retirees. I hear good things about Cuenca, but we both like the fact that Medellin seems more cosmopolitan, bigger, etc.  Just hope no one tells IL! Sssshhhhhh….

  • I am so much excited after reading your blog. Your blog is very much innovative and much helpful for any industry as wel

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    as well as for person.

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  • Hi Matthew, 
    Yes you can find a decent apartment for around $300 a month if you share it. Try looking here to see what’s available and at what price points: http://www.compartoapto.com/.

    Since I’m still learning photography I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable offering classes, though if you speak Spanish I can recommend you my school which offers month-long courses from time to time.

  • matthew b

    Yea not looking to share an apt with a stranger.  I guess I’ll just search for a place when I get there.  What do you know about electricity in the apartments?  Is it usually an easy process?  What about getting an internet connection?  I don’t think my spanish is good enough to take a photography class in spanish.  I’m not coming down until August so I’ll try to get in a class before I leave.

    What do you know about attending soccer games?  I’m a big soccer fan and I look forward to going to the stadium to catch some games.  I understand Medellin has 2 or 3 pro teams. I’ll have to figure out which one to support.  Do you support a team or attend any games?  I can’t wait to get down there.  Thanks for you help.

  • Sorry I know nothing about getting electricity… a big football team out here is Nacional, I’ve gone to one of their matches which was really fun.

  • Great post Jasmine!!

  • samantha

    I just came across your blog tonight ! I found it very inspiring, as I just started writing a travel blog as well. I found your page through googling Matador reviews- I’m in a University in North Florida now, but plan to take the Matador courses instead while on the road. I love Medellin, was there traveling last year. Will continue to read and learn from your blog ! best of wishes to you xo

    samantha

  • Thanks for visiting, Samantha. The Matador course was definitely helpful for the period of time that I wanted to focus on travel writing. Best of luck on your journey.