As I am typing this I am watching "Los Simpson" with my roommate Mario. About 90% of the time when I come home and he is home he is on the couch watching the show. And in Spanish, Homer's name is Homero. (Pronounced o-MARE-o)
Well, summer is definitely over. In the mornings I wake up to it being about 40 to 50 degrees, and some days it seems to only get up to 65 or so. There is no heat inside the house or at school, so I have been wearing layers and bringing a coat with me. It is a bit funny to see people here bundled up in heavy coats and having scarves covering their entire faces, as if they were expecting subzero temperatures or a huge snowstorm like the many I lost count of back home.
On Friday it was overcast and misty all day, and then around 1:00 or so there was a heavy downpour. Luckily I was inside when it happened, and it didn't last for too long. Apparently fall into winter is the rainy season, and sometimes it will be raining the entire day. Note to self: buy an umbrella this weekend!
On Saturday afternoon Fabiola helped me go bike shopping. I was hoping to pay a bit less than I did, but I found a good deal on a bike and got a discount for buying a helmet and lock with it. I don't have a picture of it yet, but it is an 18 speed bike that is white and blue and called "Shark". I was excited to try it out, but after a few minutes of riding towards school the seat kept slipping back. My landlord was at the house, so I brought it back and he helped me tighten the seat. I went out for a ride again, but after about 10 minutes of riding the same thing happened.
I took it back to the store today, and rather than putting on new screws (I think they were stripped), they actually put on a completely new seat. I also got a blinking reflector for the back of my bike as well as a blinking headlight and mirror while I was there, and I was able to ride it home without a problem. I got myself set up for the ride to work tomorrow and am excited about it.
Even though I am not spending money too freely, I am spending more than I thought I would. I decided to look into some tutoring jobs here, and I had an interview with a guy who sends teachers to businesses to teach English to individuals or small groups of people. It was an interesting interview, as the guy started out by giving me an overview of the education system in Chile and asked me if he minded if he smoked. I smiled at him and told him it was fine, and the fact that I am in a different country ran through my head yet again for about the 1000th time since I've been here. I talked about my qualifications and he told me about his students, and I have a tutoring job on Tuesdays and Fridays starting on this Friday. The student sounds really motivated, and I'm eager to help him and also earn a little bit of extra plata.
School has been an adventure as always. On Monday Claudia (the main teacher I work with) discovered that her schedule was changed. Now mind you, she wasn't told this in advance. She found this out when she went to the 12th grade class she was supposed to have for the 3rd hour, only to discover that another teacher was there and told her that she was working with ANOTHER 12th grade class for the 3rd and 4th hour. Since I work with her during the 4th hour, I was walking around from class to class trying to find her. After she told me about the change and class was over, I went to the teacher's lounge to see the change on the schedule or if there were any more changes in Claudia's schedule for the day. Well, here's the fun part: The published schedule in the teacher's lounge was only for Tuesday through Friday. So we had no way of knowing what the rest of her schedule looked like for the rest of the day. When I took a closer look, however, I realized that they switched the times of the 2 12th grade classes. The weirdest part is that no one has been given any explanation as to why this change happened a month and a half after the school year has started.
Trying to use technology has proven to be another adventure at school. I prepared a lesson to learn about the present versus past tense using "In the End" by Linkin Park, and I tried to use my Ipod and the USB cable to play the music since I don't have the CD with me. Well, after trying to use 2 boom boxes with USB techonology, a computer at the school, and a teacher's laptop over the course of about 45 minutes and three different areas of the school, I was out of luck. Ema (one of the other teachers I work with) told me that she will have her husband download the song from Itunes onto her flash drive so that we can use it in the next class.
And the class that I was dreading having today actually turned out really well. The new unit they started today was about celebrities and expressing opinions, and so I got them talking about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Ricky Martin, and Michael Jackson. It turns out that the class knows English, but they just don't speak it unless if you really insist on it. There were Ipods and cell phones out during the lesson, but I took Claudia's advice and ignored them and instead just redirected the students to work on writing summaries of the celebrities and expressing their opinions. Some of them got a bit out of hand during the time I gave them to create nameplates out of index cards and were fighting, but it was nothing compared to last class. A bunch of them surprised me with how much they were able to write on their own once I prodded them a bit and encouraged them. It was such a relief, and I felt so much better after class than this time last week.
Over the past few days I have noticed myself getting annoyed with little things and being more irritable than normal. I think that culture shock is starting to set in, as the novelty of living here has worn off and I am dealing with the downsides of living in another culture. So here's a quick list of my current positives and negatives of living here:
Positives: Cheap rent, being able to take public transportation to get around, practicing and improving my Spanish, meeting people from all over, traveling, being in a lower stress teaching situation
Negatives: Having to limit the time of my hot showers, getting sardined into busses and metro during rush hour, the amount of time I have to spend getting from one place to another, the lack of resources at school, no heat at home
Luckily I am aware of how I am feeling and have good friends here to help spend time when I am feeling down. Brandon accompanied me on a wild goose chase trying to find a store that sells Magic cards on Saturday, and Donny and I spent about an hour walking around trying to find a cafe that was open on Sunday. Erin and Walker and I had very possibly the longest game ever of chess, as she kept getting distracted by shiny things on Saturday night. Even though Erin and I teach at the same school, we barely ever see each other. We decided to get a bite to eat after school today, and it was good catching up and sharing our experiences since we are both the only gringos in each of our living situations.
Despite the ups and downs, life here is still good. Just colder.