Hogar Dulce Hogar: Settling in in Manizales

Hogar Dulce Hogar” – Home Sweet Home


It’s a cliché phrase, but it’s perfect. I’ve finally started settling in to my home for the year here in Manizales, and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. From the location, to my roommates, to the views, it’s definitely a sweet set-up.

I live on a sixth floor apartment with two roommates, Alejandra and Daniel. They are both really funny, welcoming, and kind, making it a home sweet home indeed! They’re both medicine students in their final year, so often talk about the surgeries or patients they had each day. I’m therefore learning lots about the behind-the-scenes med school life which sounds really hectic, but interesting.

Roomie Selfie!

Alejandra also has a cat named Polo. He’s a white fluff-ball, not even one years old yet, but incredibly tender and loving. He comes often to hang out with me in my room, curling up to nap next to me, or sometimes even on top of me. He also likes to drink from the tap, which I find hilarious.

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My room is big and spacious, although sparsely furnished for now. I just have my mattress on the floor and a cute night table I got at the used clothing & furniture store across the street. I’ll definitely be getting some more furniture once I receive the first month’s pay, but for now, it’s all I really need!

Buying my mattress was entertaining. I got it from a place downtown for an amazing price, and then had to get a taxi to bring it back home. Lugging it up the stairs was an adventure (why is there no elevator!) but luckily Daniel came down to help me.

A funny sight to see – the store clerk lugging around the mattress as I try to get a cab during rush hour

The view out my window is also pretty cool. On one side is just a busy street, so not too interesting, but on the other side, I can see far into the valley neighbourhoods. When it’s not foggy, I can clearly see the mountains sitting prettily in the distance. I could even see a small cloud of ash coming out of the nearby volcano one morning!


Small puff of ash coming out of the volcano in the early morning

And it gets better… the apartment is just a 4-5 minute walk to my school! It makes those early 7am starts so much more manageable. I even pass a delicious-smelling panaderia (bakery) on the way, which never ceases to tempt me.

But enough about my new hogar.

On Friday, I finished my first full week of school! It was an incredible experience to introduce myself to all the students and to start getting to know them. I work with two co-teachers in a total of eight different English classes (so many names to learn!!). I have 2-4 hours a week with each grade nine class, and 3 hours a week with each grade ten class. Each of my co-teachers has a distinct teaching style, but I can tell I’m going to learn a lot from each of them. I’ve already picked up some classroom management tips from them that were really helpful for classes I taught solo.

For the most part, the students are very engaged and eager to participate in class, and are excited to have a foreign native speaker in the classroom. It’s so inspiring to see their excitement, and to hear “Hello, teacher!” when I enter the class or when I’m walking in the halls. One sweet student even insisted on giving me her bracelet, so now I wear it happily as a reminder of each student’s individuality.

It’s easy to think of the classes just as “the grade nines” or “the grade tens,” especially at the beginning meeting so many students all at once, but my goal for the year is to get to know each student at least a little bit. I know that my past teachers who took the time to get to know me were the ones that I felt most inspired by, so I can at least hope to try and do the same for my students.

As for city sights,

I haven’t done too much touring around just yet, except for the places I mentioned in my last post. I did visit one amazing place since then though, called Chipre. This is the highest point of Manizales, and is really cool to visit. I went with my friend Chloe and my roommates last weekend after I had finalized I’d live with them.

At a viewpoint on Chipre, you can look in all directions, getting an incredible view over the city and the surrounding lush coffee country. We took a tour there at the intricate Fundadores (Founders) monument to understand it a bit more, and admired the parasailers in the distance.


Additionally, as a student told me in class, Manizales is known as a fabrica de atardeceres – a “factory of sunsets.” This was an accurate description, I soon learned, as we stayed to take in the sunset. As the sun disappeared behind the mountains, the show continued – faint yellows, reds, oranges, pinks, purples, and blues painted the sky. It was stunning.

Chloe grabbing the sun before it sets 🙂

I’m looking forward to exploring a lot very soon as I settle into more of a routine. For now, I’m content being homey and enjoying my new hogar dulce hogar. 🙂 

Til next post,