My name is Lauren (@laurenlagringalatina). I am from Omaha Nebraska, I’m 100% American and I moved to Medellin Colombia in 2017 after developing a profound interest and love for the Latin culture and language. This deep interest was developed over the span of many years from the time I was 13 and began studying Spanish to later years when I traveled to the Dominican Republic (9 days), El Salvador (3 months), and Lima Peru (1 year).
When you live abroad, every single day is an adventure. It enriches your life to understand the perspectives of others and to witness and share in a culture that is not yours. By being here in Latin America, I can better understand what it feels like to be the minority in the same way that Latinos experience in my country. It inevitably contributes to opening your mind and makes you a better world citizen. While developing a deeper understanding of another culture, you learn more about, not only your own culture and country, but yourself as a human being as well.
The Latin American culture and people have greatly impacted the person that I am today, and I’ve also become hugely aware of the challenges, history, and impact the Latin communities have had on the United States. This may sound cheesy but I consider it my lifelong mission to continue to connect with and learn about Latin American cultures so that one day when I go back to the U.S I can support the Latinx population wherever possible while also making my own community more aware of the challenges Latinos face in our society.
Currently, I connect with and work with travel brands that promote travel in the region of Colombia as well as other Latin American countries.
Living abroad is not always easy though, and definitely comes with its challenges. I miss my family and the typical luxuries of a developed country that I was accustomed to having back in the States, such as online shopping, access to a car, and cheap peanut butter. I have also learned along the way as an expat that it can be difficult to grow solid long-term friendships with the people of the country you’re living in, especially when the people of that country don’t always share the same values as you do. We grew up with completely different life experiences and perspectives that we might not get along on those deeper levels for a strong friendship to flourish. This is why all of my best friends here in Medellin happen to be Colombian-American, born and raised in the States but live here just like me.
I know that it is not common to find a white girl (gringa) like me with such a passion and admiration for a culture that is not hers, which is why I often do not relate with so many other white American girls who move here. I have devoted so many years to learning the language and understanding the people of Latin America, and this isn’t just a “phase” for me. I always planned on settling in Latin America long term, but even when I eventually move back State-side, I know that I will need to live in a city that has a large Latin influence. I hold this culture very dear to my heart and it has become a part of who I am as I continue living out my experiences in the context of it. I love getting to know and connecting with individuals who exhibit pride in where they come from and want to share their culture with everyone they meet. Culture makes us who we are and to embrace that, brings color to our world!