A Travellerspoint blog

Singing, dancing, watching Batman

overcast 60 °F

To counteract my lonely weekend last week, I had a really good weekend this time. On Friday I hung out with some of the other faculty members from the school at the apartment of Henry (one of the librarians). Despite the ten other people being much older than me, I had a really good time. A few of the guys had instruments (three of four guitars, an accordion, a tamborine, etc.), so they sang a bunch of songs (in Spanish of course); and we danced, ate, talked, and enjoyed each others' company. I really did have fun, and I hope to spend time with that group of teachers and faculty more often. Then last night, I went out with Alex and her sister Natalie. Natalie just got back from London, so I haven't hung out with her yet. I did meet her in January when I was visiting Bogota with Liz, Rachel, Rosie, and Heather, so if was good to see her again. We just went to a small restaurant and ate some empanadas. Then some of Natalie's friends called and asked her to go see Batman, so I went too. Alex went back home though because she had to be at the hospital for her shift at 7am this morning. Natalie's friends were nice, and Batman was better the second time I saw it, so I'm glad I went. The movie ended at around 1, so I took my first taxi by myself after the movie ended. I was nervous (because some of the taxis here are known to take naive Americans on longer routes and to charge them more - and sometimes worse things), however Natalie and Alex called a taxi for me from their house, which is a much safer way to travel than to just flag one down. Anyways, sorry if I scared any one with that bit about the taxis, but I will always be careful! I'm not really looking forward to going back to school this week, and I'm not sure why. I think it's actually because I'm jealous of the labor day holiday at home. Meanwhile, in Colombia we don't have a day off until October! Oh well, I will deal. I like teaching and I like school, I just wish I had a longer weekend! Well, that's all I have for today. I hope you are all doing well at home!

Love,

Amy

Posted by AmyLynn 10:36 Archived in Colombia Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

What I have done on the weekends!

These pictures were taken by other people, but since I do not have a camera cord to upload my pictures, these will have to do...

semi-overcast 63 °F

penalisa.jpg
This is me at my friend Jime's vacation house in a town about 4 hours from Bogota called Giradot. It's much hotter there because it is not in the mountains like Bogota.

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This is me again at Jime's house in the pool with Jime and her friends.

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This picture was taken at a town called Suesca just outside of Bogota. Jime's family owns some land there and the mountains and farmland are beautiful. The others in the picture are Jime's mom (far right) and some of her extended family.

Posted by AmyLynn 15:02 Archived in Colombia Tagged photography Comments (0)

One week down...

rain 59 °F

Well, I'm writing this as I prepare lesson plans for the first bimester (5 weeks long). I will be so happy after these are planned, as I felt very disorganized the past week. But I am not the only teacher who feels this way, so that makes it easier.

Last week was fun, stressful, tiring, and exciting. I have my second grade English class every day, and I meet with each 6th, 7th, and 8th grade class once a cycle. Before I go any further I should explain this idea of a cycle. Instead of using a typical Monday through Friday five day schedule, my school uses a cycle of 6 internal days. We still go to school Monday through Friday, but my schedule repeats every 6 days. I know this is going to confuse me for the first couple of weeks and maybe months, but hopefully I'll get used to it. Anyways, I have three classes of each grade (except for 8th, where I have 2 classes). The second graders are adorable and loving, but they have lots of difficulty following directions and listening when others are talking. I need to figure out a way of motivating and disciplining. The sixth, seventh, and eigth graders are really fun. I teach them a conversation class, which basically means we'll be having informal conversations, so they can become more confident teaching in English. Now all I need is a Spanish conversation class for me! The first week I felt like I was understanding more Spanish because we had many meetings conducted in Spanish, but this past week I have taught in English the entire time. However, next week one of the teachers is going to start giving me Spanish lessons, so I'm excited to start those. I feel bad when someone has to translate all the time!

Besides school, I'm feeling fairly happy here. When I have a chance to get out of my apartment and hang out with friends and meet new people, I can take my mind off how much I miss home. For example, last week I went with my friend Alex and her friends for lunch on Saturday and to dinner with Alex, her parents, and her boyfriend on Sunday. And last night I met more of her friends when we went to Hooters for her friend Nico's birthday. It was fun and gave me a little taste of home, since we ate some hot wings and nachos...haha. However, there are other times when I can't think of anything but home, my family, my friends, and Matt. I'm hoping this gets easier as time passes. I think if I were to take this kind of experience again, I would choose to go somewhere that had a community of people who were going through the same experience. For example, when someone studies abroad, he or she often meets other people who are also studying abroad. Even if the person has never met these people before, they can bond because they are experiencing similar things. Although the teachers at the school have done their best to welcome me, the fact is they are from Colombia, so they are not facing a new country, language, or culture. For some it is a new job, so I have been able to bond more with those people. However, for the most part, no one can really relate to what I'm going through.

Anyways, I'll keep you all updated with how I'm feeling and how teaching goes as it progresses. E-mail me at amyhall1114@gmail.com if you'd like to update me about your lives! I'd love to hear from all of you!

Love you and miss you all!

-Amy

Posted by AmyLynn 13:51 Archived in Colombia Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Soy una profesora.

The day of blisters, cold weather, and warm welcomes.

semi-overcast 0 °F

So my first day of school was also my first trip to the nurse's office. I stepped out of my house today and could already tell I was going to get blisters if I had to walk far. Of course on the first day of school the new teachers are taken on a tour of the school, which is pretty large. Needless to say, I had three other teachers telling me that I should go to the nurse to get band-aids for my blisters. Haha oops. Tomorrow I will wear more comfortable shoes. I will also bring a jacket and dress in layers since I was freezing all day in my skirt. Oops again.

Despite being slightly hurt and cold, I had a really good first day at the school. I showed up not knowing what to expect, but as I'm the only teacher from America and the only teacher who doesn't speak Spanish, many people took me under their wings and helped me out. I was very warmly welcomed, and I met some really nice people. Luckily in the English department, we are encouraged/told to speak in English with each other and with the girls at all times, so that will make things easier. And in faculty meetings I will be exposed to Spanish. Today we had an all faculty meeting which was conducted in Spanish, so I had one of the other teachers translating for me throughout. That was very helpful. However, hopefully in a few months I won't need a translator anymore. The all faculty meeting today was kind of funny because all the new teachers had to introduce themselves in front of the 60 or so teachers. My introduction went like this: "Mi nombre es Amy Hall. Soy de Chicago, Illinois. And now I'm going to speak in English." Everyone laughed, so I guess my lack of Spanish-speaking abilities can at least break the ice. Plus, everyone, and I mean everyone, knows my name since the principal Maria Teresa announced the need to make me feel welcome above all others since I'm the only American and the only one who doesn't know Spanish. Needless to say, I had lots of friendly teachers trying to help me out today.

I also got a little shock this morning when I found out that the girls start school next Tuesday already. I was expecting at least 2 weeks to plan lessons, and now I only have 1! There's no better way to get acquainted than to jump right in, I guess! So tonight and tomorrow night will be spent creating lesson plans and activities (at least for next week). I also found out that besides teaching 2nd grade, I will also be teaching an informal speech class for 7th and 8th graders, which should also be very interesting.

Well, tomorrow I have to get up early again, so I better get ready for bed. I have an all day conference tomorrow. Wednesday we have an assembly for all the parents to meet the teachers. Thursday is a holiday, so we don't have to go to work that day. And Friday and Monday will probably be spent frantically planning for the girls' arrival on Tuesday. Wish me luck for this next week! I will probably write again after my first day with the girls, unless something more interesting happens between now and then. I hope you are all doing well back home. Love you and miss you!

-Amy

Posted by AmyLynn 15:51 Archived in Colombia Tagged educational Comments (0)

Bogota, here I am

overcast 55 °F

Well, I made it. I arrived in Bogota at around 9pm last night, and Jime and her brother picked me up from the airport. I stayed with Jime's family last night, and her mom invited me to stay whenever I want. It's really great having people here that I know because I'm lonely as it is. Being in an apartment by myself is hard, but I really like it at the same time. My apartment is very nice. I have a small kitchen and living room, one bedroom with two twin beds, a bathroom, and a large private patio. Once I find my camera cord, I will post pictures on here.

It's very intimidating not knowing Spanish, but I think I just have to get out of my comfort zone and practice. Not knowing the language only makes me feel lonelier. At least this week when I have nothing to do, I'll be able to use Rosetta Stone more than I did at home...oops : )

Despite only being here two days, I have noticed quite a few cultural differences already. First of all, I have 5 keys and 3 doors to get into my apartment. The first is from the street into the carport/yard, the second is from the yard into the "lobby" of the house, and the third is from the lobby into my actual apartment. The first two doors have two locks and the second has one. Using so many keys will take some getting used to, but at least I feel safe. The traffic here is terrible, and something I don't feel I'll ever get used to. People don't really pay attention to traffic signals, there are mopeds swerving in and out of traffic, and we almost hit a bus or two on the way from Jime's to my apartment. Oh well, I won't be driving, and I won't be wasting money on gas! Another difference are the groceries. For example, milk, mayonnaise, and ketchup come in a bag, and people don't really eat peanut butter (I'll need some of that sent down, Mom).

I miss everyone more than I ever thought I would. I wish Matt was here more than anything, but soon enough, I suppose. I'm hoping once school starts it will be easier to cope with loneliness. Having more of a schedule and meeting more people will help. But I will be thinking of every one at home very often!

I hope you are all enjoying the last bit of summer. The school year will be here before you know it. Keep in touch!

Love,

Amy

Posted by AmyLynn 19:44 Archived in Colombia Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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