6 Things No One Told You About Meeting People vs. Making Friends In Bogota
People in Colombia are known for being friendly. So naturally, you would think that meeting people and making friends would be super easy.
Sure, I won’t deny that people smile, approach you, and ask questions. but that doesn’t mean they’re friends. Culturally, people here are so polite, they have mastered the art of telling each other off all with a smile on their face. Foreigners would claim they are fake, but this is just the way things work in Colombia.
I’m not saying people are not genuinely interested. Of course, they’re curious and they come off as extra nice and polite. But what I’m trying to say is, don’t expect it to go any further.
Friendliness doesn’t necessarily equal friends. there are several factors that make meeting people and making friends in Bogota more difficult than you would think. From my short experience and thanks to my Colombian partner who culturally sensitizes me, here are 6 truths about meeting people and making friends in Bogota.
1. Higher stratums are friendly but closed
Stratums are real here. Due to the fact that stratums are defined, people of higher stratum try hard to make it obvious of where they belong. The way they speak, the way they dress, the list goes on and on. You can spot them from a mile off. Not to mention, you probably won’t find them in the streets as they are riding around with their chauffeurs in their bulletproof cars.
You will, however, find them in their country club, restaurants, and hip the bars. Your paths might cross and you’ll engage in a great and friendly conversation. You probably thought you hit it off really well and they even asked to exchange numbers.
Perhaps they even invited you to their country home or tell you you should do it again and have another drink sometime. How friendly right?
Don’t get your hopes up (speaking from experience right here!) This is just Colombian politeness. You probably won’t see them again, let alone call you. Move on.
Even if you hit it off, they remain quite closed when it comes to their social circle.
2. Lower stratums are more welcoming
Expats remain a relatively new concept to Colombia and Colombians are still amazed to see foreigners in their country. For many that have traveled very little outside the country or not at all, befriending a foreigner is a real treat. Almost like having an exotic pet (no joke) befriending a foreigner can even be something to show off. Yes, seriously.
Perhaps there’s a lot more social reasons to explain this phenomenon, but in any case, it’s a real thing.
3. All your expat friends will eventually leave
Maybe you yourself are only here for a couple of years. In that case, making expat friends shouldn’t affect you much. But if you’re here to stay, know that you’ll eventually have to part ways with that awesome English/Australian/French friend of yours.
4. Every Sunday is family day
Colombians are very attached to their family. If you are an expat without any family in the country, you tend to have all the weekend free to spend with friends. However, you’ll notice that your local friends are never available on Sunday. (Wanna know what they do?) They’re usually out and about with their family spending quality time with their aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents’ and the whole enchilada.
Take Sundays to exercise on the ciclovía or spend quality time alone or with your special someone.
5. You won’t see your friends so often
People in Bogota work long hours and have to prioritize what they want to do with the little free time they have. Out of 7 days a week, they have Friday night and Saturday to makes plans. So between family, lifelong friends, date night and deciding if they feel like putting up with the horrible traffic, this limits your encounters.
As a result, you’ll see the same good friend about once to twice a month if you’re lucky.
6. Colleagues will become good friends
In many countries around the world, people prefer to keep professional relationships separate from their personal lives. But in Colombia, it’s one in the same. As a matter of fact, to grow within your company and better collaborate with your colleagues, it’s expected that you build strong work relationships outside the workplace.
Be ready to attend baby showers, birthdays and BBQs. It’s all part of the protocol.
Making friends in Bogota has its own set of challenges despite what you might think.
Do you live in Bogota and feel the same way? Or are you moving soon and wondering what to expect?
Drop me a message in the comment box down below and tell me what you think on the matter!