August 30, 2009

Colombia & Mail

Hi friends!  Just a quick note because several friends/family from home have emailed me asking for my address and/or mailing instructions.  Here's the basic scoop for mailing things:
  • For my actual mailing address, please Facebook or email me and I will provide...
  • All mail leaves school (the best place to mail things to me) in the morning and is delivered daily around 2:30
  • All mail coming into Colombia should be clearly marked "Air Mail - Correo Aero" to assure the quickest service possible.
  • Surface mail can take weeks to arrive; airmail takes four days to two weeks for mail sent to me. 
  • Sending boxes/packages is not recommended as much as I may like them :) Boxes can be held up in customs, where upon I may have to pay import fees and processing fees just to claim a box.  I believe this is a bigger hassle than its worth.  Sorry!!
For those of you who have asked, I hope this helps!  More details on the weekend to some point when it is not 11:01 pm on a Sunday night!  Night!
p.s.  Anyone out there working on my State Fair list????  Talked to friends Anna & Andy tonight...all they did was eat Sweet Martha's cookies so hopefully SOMEONE out there is locking it up.  Let me know!

August 28, 2009

Perfect. Except....

As of tomorrow I will have left Minnesota one month ago. In the ever wise words of Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." No kidding.

The last month has absolutely flown by. After arriving in Miami, and then Colombia two days later I have not stopped for very long to think about everything as it was happening. Now, here I am on August 28th and the final bell just rang to end the school day. I have an apartment here (with curtains!), a bank account, a cell phone, wonderful friends/colleagues, a local grocery store, and 101 lovely, somewhat crazy, hormonal 8th graders. Basically I have an entire life here; which is perfect, and this experience is turning into everything I wanted and there is so much more to come.

However, I wonder if I will ever get over that feeling of missing things. On a day to day basis, there isn't tons to miss back home. But the little things start to add up. And the big things are irreplaceable. Birthdays, Oktoberfest in La Crosse, North Shore trip with the family, MN State Fair, etc... I love love love love them all. A lot. :) I guess I will figure it out along the way, and new experiences here will become as good as the old.

Until then...will someone please do the following for me at the State Fair?
  • Visit the Leinie Lodge. Have a Summer Shandy. Then have another for me.
  • Obtain one plastic bucket of Sweet Martha's cookies. Eat at least 10 before you decide to start sharing.
  • French Fries. Enough said.
  • Ride down the Giant Slide. Hands in the air-no cheating!
  • Visit the free education booths from the U of M, St. Thomas, etc. Get the free pencils and send them to Colombia because 8th graders never can find their pencils. Thanks! :)
Have a wonderful Friday!!!!!!!

August 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Jenny!!

I'm beginning to feel that I actually live here in Colombia and it's not just a place I am visiting temporarily. This is good in so many ways because now I feel more comfortable here with everything in day to day life. However, living here also means I miss things that happen elsewhere in the birthdays.

I love birthdays and I pretty much always have but I grew to love them even more in college. Basically it's an entire day to celebrate yourself; who doesn't love that? I have even been known to celebrate birth months with some very specific people... ;) I love making other people feel special on their birthdays and I love the reason to celebrate.

Tomorrow is Jenny's birthday and I wish I could be there to celebrate with her! Jenny has been my friend for awhile now, and we have discussed on many occasions how much fun her 21st birthday would be...until of course we realized I would not be there. As with many of my close friends, I miss her often. Mostly I miss the ability to pick up my phone and text her when funny things happen because her responses are always priceless. And I miss her ability to text me all of the interesting things that happen in her day. Like when she texts me: "Just attempted to warm up two sips of carmel latte in work microwave & coffee exploded everywhere. I wish this was a joke." Or when she texts me "Keith. K102." to inform me that Keith Urban is playing on the radio station K102. Or when when she texts me during the television show Gossip Girl as the plot unfolds, and then calls me during commercials to discuss at 15 minute intervals.

In between the funny moments, she is also a great friend. Do you ever have things happen to you and now matter how many people you could tell, you really just want to tell one? Jenny is one of those people--I tell her specific things and stories because she will appreciate them most. :) So in summary: Jennifer Ann I hope your 21st is as amazing as you are!!

Lots of love from Cali,

p.s. Don't worry, Uncle Kevin, I know it's your birthday too ;) Have a wonderful day of birth as well!!!

August 24, 2009

Maggie and Kristin's Day of Productivity

As a teacher, female and oldest of three siblings, nothing makes me happier than productivity.  Judge all you want, but I seriously thrive on it.  If this productivity had anything to do with lesson plans I would call Sunday the best day ever…but it doesn’t so I will settle for exceptionally successful.

Sunday's list of accomplishments begins with breakfast; a great place to start if you ask me.  Maggie and I walked down the Paso Ancho, which is a main road near our neighborhood.  In Spanish, Paso Ancho literally means wide pass or wide street.  So we walk for about 10 minutes to Pasopan, a bakery/breadshop we spotted a few days ago.  We proceeded to enjoy café espresso with milk, pastries and a vegetarian omlette for $8,000 pesos or about $4 US. LOVE it.

From there we proceeded to La Catorce to do our weekly grocery shopping and pick up some essentials.  We found the bug spray and each bought two bottles because the bugs here in Colombia have waged war on our shins and they are definitely winning.  We hope the purchase serve as a turning point.  We also bought our weekly supply of granola and yogurt, which I have become completely addicted to after having it at the Radisson’s continental breakfast everyday during the first week, as well as arepas and cheese.  Arepas are little corn/bread type tortilla things…sort of the size of a pancake.  They are pretty bland by themselves but cooked lightly with melted cheese on top they are an amazing breakfast.  Maggie & I have a serious arepa addiction.  Upon leaving La Catorce we were able to pay with our Sedexo coupons (sort of like the Colombian version of food stamps…but for middle class people) and debit cards without issues! Hooray for not being poor Americans anymore!

After La Catorce we headed to the Club (see previous post) for yoga class.  I felt a bit nervous because Maggie has only just begun to teach me some yoga things, but her and Catie assured me it was fine.  Turns out it was more than fine because what we thought was a new class at 12 was actually the continuation/cool down of an 11:00 class.  Therefore my first yoga experience was pretty simple.  While not a complete let down, I think we were all hoping for a more complete experience.  We will continue to seek it out in other locations!

Next we made our way to the artisan markets at Loma de la Cruz to pick up Maggie’s sandals.  In the process I also found myself a new purse, which is just perfect!  I love the colors and it is exactly what I have been looking for.  Long enough to hang over my shoulder, but also with a zipper to protect my belongings.  Hooray!  I also purchased some shoes from the same lady who made Maggie's.

View of Three Crosses monument from the Loma de la Cruz
View of small street the market is on (shops are to the left)

New purse
New shoes

Upon leaving we decided to attempt to master El Mio, the Cali version of a Metro/public transit.  The system is only 1-2 years old and is actually just a set of blue busses that run throughout the city.  The main line runs down La Quinta (fifth) which is actually Calle (Street) 5, a major street from North to South Cali.  We got Mio cards and hopped on the buss with costs $1,500 pesos ($0.75 US) to ride anywhere.  After a somewhat detailed conversation with the woman at the ticket booth we found the right bus number and hopped on!  Busses come about every 5 minutes, and while the busses still have to wait at all stoplights, they have their own lane so even on a non-express bus (express busses are only on weekdays) the ride was only 25 minutes long (takes about 15 minutes in a cab).  We feel very excited to have discovered how easy the Mio is and we will probably be using it more frequently now.  Taxis in Cali are very popular and pretty economical, but as with anything, public transit is of course cheaper.  FUN FACT: There are more taxis in Cali than in New York City---ridiculous, huh??

The Mio lets us off at an outdoor mall by our house called Unicentro, about a ten minute walk.  We stopped off at Juan Valdez Café, which is the best coffee shop in Cali, according to my students and others.  Maggie and I both enjoyed iced mochas with vanilla.  DELICIOUS!  Iced coffee literally completes my life every time I have it…it’s just so good.  So far the only thing Colombia seems to be lacking in is Chai tea, which I still have yet to find…(ILSE---I believe you will agree this is clearly stressful; please have a soy Chai for me soon!) the middle of Unicentro Mall.  Weird and yet pleasantly delightful.

Maggie browsing shoes we can't afford.
Iced mocha with vanilla. Thanks Juan Valdez.

Last night we enjoyed some downtime, revealing in our productivity and looking ahead to the second week of school.  This week we are discussing the Distributive Property, which is essential for so many things in Algebra, and I have a fun activity planned for it!  Reference I am a math nerd…sorry!

Exciting events to look forward to this week:

  • A trip to Zara (clothing store I became addicted to in Spain, which they also have here in Colombia)
  • Beginning of regular ultimate frisbee games between teachers after school on Tuesdays
  • Welcome back Happy Hour @ the director’s house on Friday afternoon
  • Curtain installation!!
  • Potential planning for upcoming trips around Colombia
And finally, the perfect ending to our wonderful day. :) 

White rice + tons of cooked veggies + tilapia + wine = delicious.

August 22, 2009

Absolute Nirvana

Butterfly garden at Nirvana

We have been to Nirvana!  Thanks to Asopadres, the Parents Association at school, all of the new teachers spent today at the Natural Reserve, Nirvana.  Despite having to wake up at 7 on a Saturday to catch the 8 am bus, we had a lovely day!  Most of the new teachers came and I enjoyed chatting with everyone after a busy first week at school! 

When we arrived at Nirvana, we were greeted by the Asopadres, then enjoyed some cafe tinto (black coffee) and empanadas (fried things filled with meat, veggies and potatoes) before starting the hike.  While the hike was mostly uphill, we stopped a few times for water and in general enjoyed talking along the way.  We had a great English speaking guide who pointed out several cool plants along the way!  At the top we were greeted by a gorgeous view of the Colombian hills and the small town of Palmira, north of Cali.

After the hike we enjoyed lunch right at the cafe at Nirvana.  I had fresh trout, which they farm right at the reserve-delicious!  We left the reserve on the bus around 3 to head back into Cali with one goal in mind---now that we have our Colombian debit cards, we needed some more pesos. Immediately.  Maggie and I have had about $20,000 pesos or $10 to our names for about two days now.  Another new teacher at the school, Anita, who Maggie chatted up on the way to Nirvana offered to drive us to our bank when we got off the bus.  This worked out great because we didn't have to take a cab!  Her husband, Alvaro, met us and they took us to the bank and then the market to pick up Maggie's new shoes.  Her shoes aren't actually ready until tomorrow, but I bought some and we are going back tomorrow to get hers!  The whole time we were with Anita and Alvaro we were able to practice our Spanish, and since Alvaro is also a teacher, we asked them to correct us when we make mistakes, that way we will actually get better and not just struggle through sentences!!

The thought of making friends outside of just our new teacher group is very exciting and I cannot wait to see what else the city brings us!  Just now when we went to the video store we met a guy who served in the marines in the U.S. and now works as an English teacher here in Cali, where he is originally from.  The Colombian people are so open and friendly, and we are loving every minute it of it!

Off to watch a movie with Maggie (or more Sex & the City) before a day full of errands, bakeries :), and yoga class tomorrow!!!  Love from GORGEOUS Colombia!!

In front of the main sign at Nirvana Nature Reserve.

Nirvana waterfall.
Happy hikers!
Steph & Amanda at the top of the hike
Maggie & me near some sort of exotic tree/plant thing...
Enjoying the reserve!

Delicious coffee @ the end...perfect.

Below >>> Many beautiful flowers/plants at the Reserve!

More apartment pictures!

A few more pictures of our apartment and the view from our balcony!  We feel right at home here now that we have all the things we brought and shipped!

August 18, 2009

First Day of School!

Official first day of school today and I'm a real life teacher. Weird. And exciting!!

Maggie and I started off the day by waking up on time (yay!), eating a delicious pastry we bought for breakfast (yay!), and making it to the bus on time (yay!). Note: Stay posted as we predict we will miss the bus no less than 3 times this year and I'm sure the stories those days will be eventful.

My school operates on a block schedule, which means there are five 70 minute periods each day, but then the schedule rotates. I do not see every class every day, but instead see each class 5 times in each 8 day cycle. (It's about as confusing as it sounds, but I think I'll get it someday...)

Here's what my school days will look like:
5:30/5:45 Wake up, realize it's dark outside...hit snooze at least once
6:20 Goal time to leave apartment
6:22-6:25 Actually leave apartment
6:28 Ride on bus with awkward arm rests that are not movable
6:50 Arrive in classroom

7:30-8:40 Period 1
8:45-9:55 Period 2
9:55-10:25 Break (Aka eat snacks and/or half my lunch because I'm starving)
10:25-11:35 Period 3
11:40-12:50 Period 4
12:50-1:30 Lunch (For a whole 40 minutes...which is pretty much un-heard of in the U.S.)
1:30-2:30 Period 5

2:30-3:20 Solid 50 minutes to finish things in the classroom before going home
3:30 Bus leaves school to go home!

Today I only had two classes, which was lovely, but also kind of a slow start to things. Tomorrow, as is typical after having a two period day, I will have a four period day. Thus far my students seem fun and excited to be in school, which is great.

Amusing note from today: During question and answer session where I let the kids ask questions to get to know me, one boy asked if I was pregnant. I responded with "Do I look pregnant??" His face got really red and all the others kids laughed. But I just explained that no, I will not be having a child anytime soon, thanks for asking. In his defense, lots of teachers at the school are having kids or just had a kid so I guess it's pretty typical. Also, he apoligized to me after class which was super cute. :)

In summary...guess I better hop on that yoga train and not eat very many pastries. More updates tomorrow!

August 17, 2009

Weekend Recap

Another productive, successful weekend in Cali, and good thing because school starts tomorrow!  First day with the kids bright and early at 7:30 am!

Over the weekend Maggie and I did some exploring and really enjoyed getting out in the city.  In summary...

  • Passed doctor's appt & eye appt tests for school insurance, received Colombian cell phones at school
  • Pizza & beer at our friends Angie and Caleb's apt...I love having friends who live across the street from us!  Tried Pizza 1969 and it was pretty good.
  • Lazy morning
  • Artisan markets entitled La Loma de La Cruz (Hill of the cross) or something like that.  We took a taxi up there with some fellow teachers, and met some of our friends who live in the neighborhood.  The individual booths were filled with cool things-we almost bought a hammock but we still need to figure out if it will be feasible for our balcony.  Maggie did get some sweet black sandals though; they are custom making them for her over-sized American foot and we're picking them up next Saturday.
  • Walked around the neighborhood of San Antonio and enjoyed the culture!  San Antonio is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cali and truly is the cultural center of Cali.
  • Had the best malteada moka (Mocha malt) of. my. life. at a small coffee shop down the street from our friends Aaron and Amanda's apartment.  A delicious blend of coffee, milk, and chocolately goodness.
  • Attended Festival Petronio Alvarez music from the Pacific coast festival.  Didn't actually make it inside the Plaza del Toros due to number of people at the free show, but had a blast outside where they showed the inside show on a big screen.
  • Enjoyed our first Salsa club experience at Tin Tin Deo.  New life goal: improve dancing skills.
  • LAZY.  Did not leave the house until 4 pm.   At which point we walked to the local bread shop and back.  Productive, I know.
  • Actually did write some lesson plans for Algebra.
  • Maggie started to teach me yoga! Yay!  She's a yoga genius and she was teaching in Colorado so she knows her stuff...and so I've enlisted her to teach me so I can go to yoga classes with her and know what's going on.  Also, we both agreed my first time learning yoga should not be in a foreign language. :)
  • Apartment invasion around 5pm courtesy of our lovely friends on their way home from working at school.  We loved showing off our apartment & such! :)
  • Final classroom preparations!  I think I'm ready for tomorrow....
  • Investigated Pomona, an upper end grocery store with a few import things...such as peanut butter!  Did not have enough pesos to pay, nor a Visa card with matching we were those people taking stuff out until we could pay in cash. :)
  • NOW: @ home. Blogging with red Chilean wine and cooking up some veggies & beef for dinner soon. Most likely watching Sex & the City in 1 to 2 hours.
Happy reading! :)

August 14, 2009

Cell Phones

Hooray!  All the new teachers received cell phones today and we are officially able to connect once again.  The last week has really taught me how much I truly do use my phone to check in with people.  I found it so weird to see everyone at school during the day and then just say goodbye, see you tomorrow, because there's no way to communicate before then!  Anyway, so we all have these really cheap Samsung phones which all match because we all wanted the cheapest phones.  Since phones are typically the most valuable and easiest things to steal off the street here, they are often stolen, so no one really thought it would be worth it to have an expensive phone.  However, Maggie and I are thinking we will need to do something with our phones so that we are not constantly confusing them. :)

Not much else is going on besides getting ready for school on Tuesday!  We are just heading out to hang out with some friends and get pizza for dinner, then tomorrow we will probably be headed to a music festival here in Cali.  The  festival is free and supposedly a pretty popular event to attend.  All the music is from the Pacific coast here in Cali, so it should be interesting!  Details to follow... Have a wonderful start to the weekend!

August 13, 2009

The Life of A New Teacher...not exactly a walk in the park

It's Back to School week for all teachers here at Colegio Bolivar and it has flown by!  I cannot believe our students will be here on Tuesday! (Monday is a holiday here, so we start Tuesday)  In the midst of organizing my classroom, cleaning, decorating, lesson planning and such, I have had the opportunity to start to get to know my way around the school and my fellow colleagues.  I think Colegio Bolivar is going to be a great school to work at and I am excited to see how the year unfolds!

One minor snag in my lesson planning this far: I do not really have a specific Algebra I textbook to teach out of, and that's my class title....crap.  Before I got here my school used a program entitled Integrated Mathematics I and II.  These textbooks combine Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Statistics ideas interwoven in each chapter.  I guess in some ways this helps students learn math on a more continuous level, and not so separate.  HOWEVER, the 7th grade teacher uses Pre-Algebra books and the 9th grade teacher uses Algebra II books. :/ So I could really used some Algebra I in my life. Basically to solve this problem I am going to teach Algebra I curriculum and sequence but out of the Integrated Math I book.  This means we will be jumping around a bit in the book, so hopefully my students adapt! 

Another interesting teaching fact from today... During the middle school meeting with Student Support Services & counselors we discussed accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities or special needs.  In Colombia, students who receive accommodations to their curriculum (For example, everyone else writes a 10 page paper, but the student struggles with language so he/she writes 3 pages) only receive the US diploma at graduation (US diploma because Colegio Bolivar is an international school).  Essentially, the Colombian Ministry of Education does not really acknowledge special education yet and so students with accommodations are not given the same "reward" as other students.  After all of the laws passed in the United States regarding people with disabilities in the last 20 years or so, I find it so odd to be in a culture that seems about 30 years behind in this aspect.

ANYWAY, on a brighter note: OUR BOXES ARRIVED!!!

All 4 of the boxes I sent to Miami arrived safe and sound, and we could not have been more excited (especially because we were told it might still be a few weeks until they arrived)!  Maggie and I spent most of Tuesday afternoon unpacking them and organizing.  We now have actual knives (no more butter knives to cut veggies & fruit), pots & pans, salt & pepper shakers with snowmen on them, all 3 MN Twins bobbleheads, both Twins sweatshirts, all rubber duck themed decorations for my bathroom, shoes, office supplies, Gavin DeGraw & Joe Mauer posters, and more!! So excited!!!

Maggie getting ready to unpack and discover what we shipped a month ago!

Lastly, my classroom is still a work in progress, but here are some recent pictures of some of the work I have done! :)  Enjoy!  Again, thanks for all the fabulous comments I have been receiving from people; I love hearing from all of you!!

Back wall of my classroom with bulletin boards.

Bulletin board with baseball theme: Joe Mauer poster & quotes from A League of Their Own
"It's supposed to be hard.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  The what makes it great"
"Are you crying? There's no crying! There's no crying in baseball!"
(and yes I did write OR MATH underneath it...)
My completed number line and another poster I made with a little inspiration from Charlie Brown.  "In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back."
Front of the room and my desk!

August 9, 2009

New Apartment PICTURES!

Living room & kitchen table (Apt door in the background and door to main balcony to the left)
Living room & furniture (I hate burnt orange)
Living room furniture & new plants/candles!
Kitchen with view into living room & kitchen table
Fridge :) Thanks to all who donated pictures and wonderful magnets...and yes that is the MN Twins schedule on my fridge 
View from our main balcony looking out into the Andes!
Looking out to the left...our neighborhood, which is called Il Ingenio.
Main balcony (with Maggie!) which extends in front of living room and Maggie's bedroom.
Main balcony with new plants!
Spare bedroom with desk, extra luggage, and clothing line.
My room...cannot wait for the rest of my bedding to arrive in boxes so I can stop using the blanket I stole from American Airlines...
More of my room---TV and DVD player bought used from a teacher who left my school after last year.  Maggie and I will be watching Italian Job here later tonight because it's my favorite movie and she's never seen it. Disaster.
Bathroom in main area.  This will clearly be covered in all my rubber duck themed bathroom accessories once our boxes of shipped items arrive!
Maggie's bedroom. She is also anxious to receive the rest of her bedding and not have her down sleeping bag :)
Maggie's bathroom

Related Posts with Thumbnails