'Living Abroad, I Was Able To Unlearn What I Thought Life Had To Be'
Photo Credit: Cadijah Crenshaw.

Photo Credit: Cadijah Crenshaw.

'Living Abroad, I Was Able To Unlearn What I Thought Life Had To Be'

Medellin , Colombia , The Black Expat
Ayah A.
Ayah A. Apr 15, 2021

Cadijah Crenshaw is a day trader and entrepreneur from Rochester, NY. The 30-year-old’s first experience living abroad was in 2016 when she moved to China to teach English.

“I was 25 at the time and was pretty much working to survive,” she told Travel Noire. “I had no career and was only able to get front desk, customer service, or call center jobs even though I had two degrees from Penn State. I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck, I needed more money and wanted a career or job in my field.”

While browsing job listings on Craigslist, Cadijah came across a post seeking people to teach in China. She applied in April and was hired in May, then spent the next several months getting her passport and visa, and taking the required TEFL certification courses. She moved to China in September 2016, and enjoyed her new home, as well as her teaching position and the substantial salary that came with it.

Courtesy of Cadijah Crenshaw.

“I loved the dynamic nightlife scene in Beijing and the delicious Chinese food. There, I had the opportunity to meet and befriend people not only from China, but from all the world. More than anything, living there really helped me change and grow mentally, because I was able to unlearn what I thought life had to be.”

After a little over a year in China, however, Cadijah began to get homesick.

“I am very family oriented and hated being so far from my family. I returned to the U.S. and started looking for places where I could be away but not so far. I first began looking at Costa Rica, but after some research I got the feeling that it had become too Americanized, and I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I stumbled across a video on YouTube by a guy named Cartess Ross, who was living in Medellín, Colombia with his family. After doing some research of my own, I was sold!”

There were several factors that made Cadijah sure Medellin was the place for her. She liked that it is a Spanish-speaking country, a relatively easy language to learn. Also, known as ‘the city of eternal spring,’ she knew Medellín would offer nice weather year round. It was only a five-hour flight from home. And it was a very affordable city to live in.

Courtesy of Cadijah Crenshaw.

Excited to get to Medellín, Cadijah began applying for jobs there. She soon found and was accepted into a teaching program. All that was left for her to do was to pack up and leave, which she did in January 2018. Three years later, Cadijah says her experience living in Medellín has been nothing short of amazing.

“My heart is so full and my soul is extremely happy here. The people are so nice it’s scary. The culture is very different from in the States in that it’s very laid back and ‘tranquilo.’ Colombians don’t stress about anything, everyone truly just goes with the flow. It truly is a beautiful and magical place, and I am so happy to call it my home.”

“I love the peaceful beautiful days and the cool nightlife. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, and great places to eat, and it’s all affordable. I’m living my best life without breaking the bank. I’ve never paid more than $800 a month total for housing, food, utilities, and entertainment (and I like to go out a lot!)”

Courtesy of Cadijah Crenshaw.

Cadijah says in Medellín, you’ll find beautiful architecture, modern amenities, and all the services you’d expect to find in the U.S., including an unbelievable healthcare system. With 24-hour pharmacies on every corner, Cadijah can walk in and get whatever she needs, from Advil to Amoxicillin, with no prescription required. The pharmacies deliver, as well, and many of the doctors and healthcare providers speak English.

As a Black woman, Cadijah feels very comfortable and welcome in Colombia.

“There are Colombians that look just like us. I blend right in until I open my mouth, and it feels amazing to be able to do that. It’s definitely a big contrast from the stares I received in China and the way I stuck out there. But to be honest, I don’t feel like I would get treated any differently in Medellín even if I didn’t blend in. The people here are so kind and welcoming. There are lots of other Black expats here, too, who I’m able to connect with through Facebook and WhatsApp groups.”

Cadijah is now hooked on the expat life and say it is this way of living that has opened her heart and mind to new possibilities and helped her become willing to explore and try so many new things.

Courtesy of Cadijah Crenshaw.

“I honestly would have never thought there was life or success outside of the basic timeline of graduating high school, going to college, getting a degree, a career, a house, a family, etc. I always figured that was the ‘right’ way to do life and it wasn’t until I began exploring these different countries and seeing how differently people thought and lived, that I learned otherwise.”

Although she loves Medellín, Cadijah is looking forward to continuing to move around this vast, green earth. Next, she’s got her sights set on Bali, Indonesia.

“I am considering moving to Bali for a few months in the upcoming year. The only thing Medellín is missing is a beach. I am hoping that living there will help me grow more mentally and spiritually.”

You can follow Cadijah at @iamcadijah.

Related: How To Spend 24 Hours In Medellín, Colombia