About Jimena

I grew up in Gambita, Santander, one of the most mountainous regions in Colombia. As a child, I remember clear nights, full of stars, studying on the escaño de madera (wooden seat) located in the hallway of my grandfather’s humble ‘adobe’ house where he’d hand-sealed the wooden floors himself. It was in this place that I used to study and do my schoolwork, and where I dreamed of becoming a business entrepreneur travelling the world and discovering new cultures.

As a child, I loved going to school pata limpia (barefoot), jumping from rock to rock, dodging the barrizales (mud holes) made by the dense winter. Together with my siblings, cousins and neighbours we would walk for 45 minutes through green forests and meadows to reach our school. My grandparents always reminded me of the importance of studying. For us, as a family, studying was the vehicle for evolution, progress and socio-economic development.

When I was 17 years old, I moved to live in Bogotá with my father, who also encouraged me to study. I wanted to become a career woman and for that, I had to work hard during the day and attend university at night. In 2011, I graduated in Marketing and Advertising and as soon as I could, I started my graduate studies in Consumer Behaviour Research. All this time, while I was working and studying, I kept a greater dream in my heart - to live abroad, exploring new cultures and learning English! For that, I knew I would have to leave my burbuja (my comfort zone), face the new and unknown and conquer my biggest fear – learning English!

Learning English as a second language had always been my greatest mental hindrance, ever since I was a child. Confidence with English seemed like an impossible thing to achieve, and the idea of studying in an English-speaking country made me feel vulnerable and insecure. I was worried that learning English would take away my own voice and silence my spirit.

Then in 2016, when I was 29 years old, I decided to jump into the void. I decided to go out and make this dream, that I’d kept in the drawer of impossible desires, come true. I remember lying quietly on my bed, where for a moment life felt simple, monotonous and boring. I remember my inner voice telling me there was much more to life and it was time for me to get out of my burbuja de cristal (comfort zone). That day, I started looking onto quotes to study abroad. I added, subtracted and projected my savings budget for 8‑month expenses. Then I booked my flights.

On 26 April 2017, I landed in New Zealand. I’d chosen this destination because I wanted something far away from what was known to me. I needed to be in an English-speaking country where I could study and work and as a Colombian there were only two options: New Zealand and Australia.

When I left Colombia, I had zero English. But I was very sure of myself. I felt protected and blessed even though everything was absolutely new to me. Since I left Colombia, I have kept in my heart my siblings, spiritual mentors from church, grandparents’ blessing and the vivid memory of that humble country house where these dreams, which today are a reality, were born.

In 2018, I decided to move to Australia to continue my English studies while also exploring a new country. During the three years here, my inner world has been redesigned; it has evolved. I have had the opportunity to share with people from diverse nationalities and cultures. I have explored a part of the world, which back in my primary school geography class sounded so very far away, foreign and unreachable.

I have gone through moments of uncertainty, homesickness and deep crying. I have had days full of happiness, light and brightness. I have discovered and learnt new skills, which I would never have even thought of in my country. Facing that huge impossible barrier of my childhood - to learn English - has been my greatest challenge and motivator. It has helped make the dreams that I sowed in the middle of those starry nights of my childhood, come true.

In 2019, after a year in Melbourne, I took the risk to discover and explore Darwin. Here I have found a magical, resilient and vibrant community where we, as international students, are truly welcome. The Northern Territory (NT) is where we can find the best version of a second family, as we are a big family! In the NT, we are all allowed to re-start and be reborn again, showing our best. It is here in Darwin where I started feeling more secure in my English learning process. It is here where I began to speak confidently in English.

Today, I feel proud of what I am achieving step-by-step and ready to take my next leap. Only, this time, it will be here in Darwin. Here, I feel ready to support and show others how to follow and find their own way, their own dreams.