The Tale of the Ya Ya Ya’s

Everyone! So much has happened! I turned 25! I got married!

Just kidding about the marriage part.

However, I do get asked every other day if I like Colombia, if I will stay here after my two years, and if I do want to stay, I get the same, wise advice…


*insert annoyed, face palming, eye-rolling face here*

I updated my FAQ page. Check it out here!  Travel tips to Colombia coming soon..


Thank you shout out to the following babes:

Jenny – a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in El Salvador who visited me during her vacation and school project. Jenny and I are both Korean-American and could relate on so many levels as being an Asian-American serving in Central and Latin American countries as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Many laughs were shared.

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas, personas de pie, montaña, cielo, nube, exterior y naturaleza
Awkward Asian posing.

Juju – my PIC (Partner In Crime) who came to visit me on my birthday all the way from the great state of Texas.

My Juju.

Alicia – my counterpart and first friend in Buritaca. Your friendship and mentorship mean so much to me. Thank you for making me feel like a part of your family.

Alicia’s sons, Tobias and Samuel!


Before we get into the details of my fabulous life, here are some interesting things about Colombia…


The significances of the word, “YA”


This two-lettered word means many things in Colombia.

Depending on how you say it, the tone, the intonation, the body language, and the sass you put in saying it, it means a plethora of things.

In the States, “Ya” is like the informal way of saying yes, or if you want to be German and say yes all German like. Back to the States reference…Think of that one song called, Trap Queen, where the rapper says yaaaaaaa for an extended period of time. In this case, he is emphasizing his feelings of yes.

In South Korea, “Ya” is rude. When you say “Ya!” you are trying to get someone’s attention. It is basically like HEY YOU! When you say “Ya!” this way, you are expressing it by screaming and showing all your teeth to get that person’s attention who may be walking away from you, or who’s not listening to you, or like in Korean soap dramas you are about pounce and pull that person’s hair or splash a cup of water in that person’s face. *you should probably watch some Korean drama’s if you have nooo idea what I am talking about*

Exhibit A.


In Colombia, “Ya” is…

  1. When said in a short, firm tone means, “I am done or ready.” *movement of your hands like a music conductor to end a song*
  2. When said in an interrogative tone it means, “Are you done? Are you ready?”
  3. When said many times consecutively it means, “Enough, enough” *while crinkling your nose and nodding ferociously*


So here is the tale of the Ya Ya Ya’s.

Some days, I am Ya-ing like you would in the U.S. I am in a bowl of  happiness and feel all sorts of positivity and motivation. I love life and would quote cheesy Pinterest quotes like, “Live your life to the fullest” or….”Live. Laugh. Love.” Haha. Life can sometimes go like the American Ya.

Some days, I am Ya-ing like you would in South Korea. I feel full rage. I am tired of explaining that I am Korean-American, but was born in Texas. I am so fed up with the “Do you have a boyfriend, do you have a husband, do you have kids” questions. I feel like strangling the questioner when they follow up with…”Why? You are so beautiful, you are so blah blah blah” YA YA YA. Enough! The desire to scream is real. Life can sometimes go like the Korean Ya.

Then, most days, I am Ya-ing like you would in Colombia.

Ya! That’s enough food, thank you.

Ya! I am ready to go!

Ya?! Are you ready because I am tired of waiting!

Life can be answered by the Colombian Ya.


Anyway, life in general, life is golden.

And now here we go with my random rant of this golden life of mine.


To my dear American friends, I want to share something I took for granted in the U.S….

I took my site mate, Galen, and our volunteer friend in Santa Marta, Barbara, to the Gran Muralla or the GREAT WALL. It is my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city of Santa Marta.

They gave us free, iced, water and Barbara noticed this and was extremely giddy and grateful. In the States, water is free. You can order water at restaurants in a glass and it’s free! In Colombia, there ain’t no such thing as free, especially…iced, cold water. You have to buy bottled water and there is a unique kind of fury when you have to spend an extra couple of currency to spend on water which is a HUMAN BASIC RIGHT!!!!

Being PCVs aka Peace Corps Volunteers makes you really appreciate the little things like water. Love your water, folks. Love it.


Then, I visited Bogota, the capital of Colombia, for vacation and I had to wear a jacket because it was cold. Cold! The altitude is much higher in Bogota and at one point, I was wondering why I felt so out of breath or gasping for air just walking on the street. I later learned that Bogota has a higher altitude than the coast and more oxygen is needed to the blood. Well, after that scientific realization, I inhaled more deeply and felt a relief because I wasn’t panting due to being out of shape. Hallelujah.



Oh why yes, I am 25 years old now! This is my second birthday spending it in Colombia!

It was intense and amazing.

On my birthday, March 2nd, also, Texas’ independence day, my best friend Juju came to visit me. I hadn’t seen her in almost two years and when I saw her at the airport, I squeaked a bit and it seemed that there had been no time gap.

The coordinator at my Perico Aguao school called me asking me to come in because some important person needed to talk to me about the standardized test in Colomba, ICFES. I rushed with Juju to meet this important person and came to realize that they had a surprise party for me. We danced, we played a game where we had to dance with a partner with a balloon in between us and the winner was the last pair standing. Well, Juju and I lost. Haha. This was just the beginning of the cake saga…


My host mom made me arroz trifasicofried rice with three meats, and put a smiley face in ketchup on top. My real dad would do this when he made me omurice (ometette rice). Went strolling down memory lane for a moment. My host family got me a cake and we spent time together with Juju and my site mate, Karen.



On March 3rd, I went to my school in Don Diego and presented my friend Juju to my 5th graders. My counterpart, Nayide, vanished and that made me disappointed because counterparts are NOT supposed to leave volunteers in the classroom with the intention that we will teach the class. WE ARE HERE FOR SUSTAINABILITY!!!! We help co-plan and co-teach for the English teachers of Colombia, not take over the class! But Juju and I continued with greeting the students in English. Then, Nayide came around with a small cake and Coca Cola. I ate cake and drank soda at 8 am in the morning. This is normal. Soda is a normal beverage here in the coast. Haha. Cheers.

La imagen puede contener: 2 personas, personas sonriendo, personas de pie

On March 5th, I held a sancocho. Remember, I had talked about this traditional Colombian soup with yuca, potatoes, corn, beef, and platanos? I could not have cooked this soup without my neighbors, Helena, and Juju. Thank you. Thank you.

Like an assembly factory, we washed, cut, and peeled yuca, corn, platanos. I cut the beef ribs and that was an interesting experince. I thought the meat man would cut the 12 pounds of beef ribs for me. Yeah right. Assuming makes an A## out of you. I just was given a plastic bag wrapped in another plastic bag with a hunk of beef ribs. That day, I became a meat man. I hammered the bones to cut through them with a ice breaker hammer and cut the meat where we hand wash our clothes. Soooooo against the health department regulations, but nobody got sick. I repeat. Nobody got sick. Huzzah.


My neighbors helped with starting the fire. In the back, Juju was scrubbing the potatoes with soap haha. So cute. Helena was washing out these weird buckets to use for trash cans with such meticulous zest, I was like…goodnes, this woman can do anything with such grace. Then, we all helped with the cutting and peeling. And I was just spazzing out here and there, cutting the meat, cutting the vegetables, cleaning the vegetables, cleaning the areas, organizing the area, and just being a hot mess.

We threw in the meat into the boiling water and then when the meat readied, we threw in the hardest to soften vegetables, and then the rest of the vegetables along with spices and condiments.

Sancocho was made and served, and it was a dang, good day. Thank you to my friends, Mia, Devlin, and my host sister, Sofi and her friend, Marcella, for helping me serve.


Juju went back to the States without diarrhea and I turned 25 successfully.

Right now, I am Ya-ing like I would in the U.S.

I miss you all.



2 thoughts on “The Tale of the Ya Ya Ya’s”

  1. Oh my I love the ending part absolutely love it 😍 thank you for making me laugh loudly in the solitude of my room ❤

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