Over the past month, I moved, started teaching 2 classes, and have taken a couple of weekend trips. I moved to a house in an authentic Colombian neighborhood, and was the only gringa for miles until my roommates moved in! I live with two other girls that are part of the same teaching program, so we have a lot in common. It is both a blessing and a curse that we all speak English: I don’t get any Spanish practice at home, but it’s nice to be able to communicate with ease. I also joined a CrossFit gym here, and let me tell you, CrossFit in Spanish is quite entertaining! They pretty much say the same words for the exercises, but with a Colombian accent and a lot of enthusiasm. It has been a great way to meet Colombians and practice my small talk skills in Spanish, plus exercising on the reg just makes me feel better overall!
Work has been a rewarding challenge. I feel like my students are improving, but of course, there are daily frustrations. This is my first time having classes all to myself, and it can be hard to keep everyone engaged! Classes are 1.5 hours long, Monday through Friday. Currently I teach from 8AM until noon daily. So it sucks getting up early every day (madrugar), but I love having the afternoons free to lesson plan, run errands, or meet up with friends. Another challenge is that students do not come to class consistently. I have one group of 25 students, mostly in their 20s. My second class is for other instructors at SENA, and they seem to come and go as they please! Their English levels vary immensely, as do their schedules. So that makes lesson planning a bit of a challenge. SENA also does not have an established curriculum for English classes, thus each teacher is responsible for creating our own lessons and activities. So literally, I come home every day and think, what the hell I am going to teach tomorrow? It’s an adventure! But I am definitely becoming more confident in my teaching ability, as well as more comfortable with my students and their differing abilities. Overall I really like teaching, and I find it much more engaging than my previous desk job! I’m forced to take an active role in every aspect my classroom, which is exhausting, but you get out what you put in!
Some highlights of the past month have been:
- Trip to Jardin – I went with two friends to the south of Antioquia to a beautiful pueblo called Jardin. As you can tell from the name, it’s like a garden, and was so luscious and green! We went horseback riding to a hidden waterfall and took some amazing pictures. Pasias often say, “Vamos a pueblear este finde…” which means that they are going to visit a pueblo this weekend. They do it so often that it merited its own verb!
- Tropical fruit tour – In my last post I mentioned my desire to branch out and try some of the exotic fruits that are common in Medellín. I paid about $15 USD to go to a huge indoor marketplace and sample 20 different fruits. It was so worth it! Now I can identify random fruits on the street, and actually know how to eat them. Skin or no skin? Eat the core or trash it? Slurp it down or slice it? Now I am prepared to enjoy the sweetness of these Colombian treasures! My favorite discovery was nispero, which looks like a kiwi from the outside but has the texture and color of brown sugar. I loved both the fruit and drinking it as a juice blend – so good!!
- Trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia – I just got back from a weekend getaway to a finca (country house) about 2 hours outside of Medellín. IT WAS GLORIOUS. The property was one of the nicest that I’ve seen in Colombia, let alone back home! It was amazing to get out of the crowded city, breathe clean air, and take some time to read by the pool.
Lastly, an interesting tidbit for you tall people – Colombia will not accommodate your height! Most people here are around 5 feet…5’5’’ max. So I, being 5’11’’, am constantly cramming my lengthy body into tight spaces. In the bus, I have to sit side-saddle (or choose the much less lady-like option of spread legs) in order to not have my knees jammed against the seat in front of me. All desks are made for dwarfs in my opinion, and I have smacked my head in doorways multiple times. Tall people beware! Short people, you’ll fit right in. Ya bastards.
Until next month!