Exploring different corners of our planet, accompanied by its rhythms and melodies, produces treasured moments that linger in memoryLauren Munger for Varsity

Before arriving in the urban rainforest of Medellín, Colombia, I knew I was entering one of the reggaeton capitals of the world. Medellín is a mountainous city with towering, lush greenery on every corner, whose smiling people bring warmth to everyday life. Every night, it transforms into a landscape of glittering lights. My memories of the place would be incomplete without the days and nights I spent in bars, clubs and open air music venues dancing to salsa, bachata, reggaeton, Afrobeats and dancehall.

“Travel and music are deeply connected”

Just before arriving, I discovered the reggaeton track ‘El Cielo’ by Sky Rompiendo, Feid and Myke Towers. I remember playing it as I looked out my window for the first time, gazing upon breathtaking mountains, and having it on repeat as I walked through the city’s streets and fell in love. While visiting the beautiful island of San Andrés, ‘PROVIDENCIA’ played continuously. An Afrobeats track made by island native YE¥O in honour of the tropical paradise he grew up around, it continues to conjure memories of the Colombian Caribbean. Travel and music are deeply connected.

I spoke to other year abroad students about their memories of their travels and the tracks that accompanied them:

Sophie studies history and Spanish at Clare and spent her year abroad in Buenos Aires. She vividly recalls the first time she joined some of her Brazilian hostel friends for beers. They ended the night by shamelessly singing the beautifully sad ‘O mundo é um Moinho’ by Cartola in the middle of the street, their arms wrapped around each other in a warm embrace.

Ebenezer from Emmanuel also recalls a precious musical memory in the streets of Latin America. He was teaching English in Colombia and, during the Christmas holidays, attended one of the world’s largest salsa festivals, ‘La Feria de Cali’, in the capital of salsa. There, he discovered Willie Colón’s classic salsa track ‘Talento de Televisión’, whose brass introduction was a constant presence in the city during the festivities. He fondly remembers dancing in the streets alongside fellow travellers from a hostel.

“Imagine listening to a song and seeing it come to life before your eyes”

Imagine listening to a song and seeing it come to life before your eyes. Jam from Trinity Hall discovered Snelle’s ‘Kleur’ while visiting the Netherlands, thanks to an auto-generated Spotify “Dutch pop” playlist. Upon researching the lyrics, they realised one verse described the place they were staying. The song narrates Utrecht and its Neude square – its terraces, bars, cathedral and canals. The experience of picking out Dutch phrases while exploring the beautiful city was an unforgettably magical adventure.

In Buenos Aires, King’s student Karolina embraced Argentinian rock, her favourite tracks being Spinetta’s ‘Cementerio club’ and ‘Bajan’. They remind her of watching the sunset from her balcony and singing along with Argentinian friends at rock nights during her despedida or goodbye party. She first discovered ‘Cementerio club’ in year ten and always loved it, without realising its Argentinian roots until her travels. A full-circle moment, where music you have listened to is re-contextualised in the very place it was made, can build a beautiful connection between space and sound.


Mountain View

A graduation playlist for looking back and moving on

António Variações, a prominent queer artist from Portugal, was known to Will from Lucy Cavendish before he embarked on his travels. Yet he only truly began to listen to his music during his year abroad, when the song ‘Canção de Engate’ struck a chord. Describing a fleeting romantic connection, the track mirrored his own feelings about his fleeting but precious time in Portugal. Despite knowing the relationship won’t last, the singer pours his heart into it, much like Will’s fondness for his temporary stay in the country.

Exploring different corners of our planet, accompanied by its rhythms and melodies, produces treasured moments that linger in memory. Letting the music we listen to come alive around us – during nights dancing to reggaeton in Medellín, singing with friends in Buenos Aires, discovering salsa in Cali or wandering the streets of Utrecht – creates an enchanting symbiosis between music and travel.