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June 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
Drinks in Henry's in Barranquilla
Drinks in Henry's, a bar in Barranquilla

James Eder is sharing his business skills with local people in Colombia this summer.

He's travelling abroad with the AIESEC student organisation, and he's writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.


Stevie Cameron
Stevie's in The Philippines.
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Profile of the South American country from BBC News.

Follow James' travels on this map of Colombia from Lonely Planet.

James' photos
Check out James' prints online.

Official website for the UK.

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Population: 44.2 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Bogota
Major language: Spanish
Major religion: Christianity
Money: 1 Colombian peso = 100 centavos
Exports: Petrol, coffee, coal, gold, bananas, flowers, chemicals, emeralds, cotton,, sugar, livestock


AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

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Welcome to Colombia!

Hola! Well due to some complications to my flights, I ended up being delayed so finally left London Heathrow flying via Paris direct to Bogota.

James (left) with friends at a local AIESECer's house
James (left) with friends at a local AIESECer's house

So many questions running through my mind: what were the people going to be like? How am I going to manage with the language? And how was I going to cope with the perceived spicy food I expected to be greeted with?

I flew from London with another girl called Jen who is working on behalf of AIESEC with another charity in Colombia in a place called Manizales. As we arrived through the terminal, Jen was greeted by a local AIESEC representative, a dozen red roses in hand! She was staying in Bogota for the night.

Domestic stress

I however, was due to fly straight out to the North Coast to Barranquilla. At first, I was going to get to the domestic terminal myself. I was however a bit taken a back when the local AIESECer simply told me that if I needed help just pay between 5000 and 10,000 Colombian Peso to this random local Colombian standing nearby (it sounded like a lot of money at the time - it's only £1 or £2) and I'd be fine! With that in mind, it may have been the concerned look on my face that they offered to take me.

So I checked in for my internal flight, while I was waiting, another AIESECer called Mary Clau came to meet me. We had chatted online with instant messages before and she knew I had a few hours to wait in the airport. It was really reassuring to spend some time with her and settled my nerves.

Flying into Bogota, I was surprised to see how green the landscape was. When I arrived, it felt strange to be greeted by a temperature colder than London for this time of year - around 16°C - due to Bogota being at such a high altitude. I was warned by Mary that the North is a different story…

Last leg of the journey

Mary left and I waited in the lounge, the flight however was delayed and ended up being 4.5 hours late.

Finally on the tarmac all ready to go, I fell into a light sleep while we were waiting to take off only to be woken by a chorus of people pressing the steward attention button, children crying because of the noise and the other passengers shouting at the people pressing the buttons. We had been waiting on the tarmac for almost half an hour now.

To combat the noise the captain turned off the bing bong of the button which only infuriated passengers more who persisted to hit the roof of the plane. An announcement came on which was just ignored and the mayhem continued until a few minutes later we lifted off.

Glad to be in the air I was finally on the last leg of my now more than 24 hour journey. After what felt like a mini uprising of passengers, I could not quite believe I was actually here and what had been anticipated for the last few months was finally happening.

James Eder with Juan
James & new friend Juan

Airport greetings

I was greeted at Barranquilla airport by seven local AIESEC faces who helped with my bags. Each person seemed more excited than the one before.

We were quickly off in convoy to the apartment I was to be staying at for my first month here. Immediately I was hit by the humidity and the hot air.

We arrived at the apartment. While the others waited downstairs, I got changed. Now, bearing in mind my long journey, it was midnight and we were heading out for drinks and a bit of a welcome party! I ended up getting back in the early hours of the morning.

It was a really great welcome. It was interesting to compaire it to working for AIESEC back in Birmingham. We talk about the reception service we provide for graduates on our exchange programme - it was great to arrive and feel it first hand. It really does make such a difference being greeted at the airport and having the sense of an immediate support network.

Written by James Eder

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