Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A milestone reached and exciting new opportunities

So after having let go of the idea that it was going to happen a long time ago, I reached a milestone in my language learning: I started dreaming in Spanish!

It first happened on Saturday night, and I was driving some type of jet ski on some course.  I was going down a spiral water road (kind of like something you would see in a video game), but I took a curve too fast and fell off the road and into the ocean.  Somehow the jet ski sank, and I was left to fend for myself.  I swam around for a while and got to dry land, only to wander around to find complete desolation.  After a while I finally found a guy and I asked him, Perdona señor, ¿cómo llego a casa? (Excuse me, how do I get home from here?) Then he answered, Hay que ir por allá (You have to go that way) while pointing to his right.

I woke up not quite realizing what happened for the first few minutes, and then I was really excited.  When I was an exchange student in Germany I dreamed in German for the second half of the year, and I continued to dream in German for a good year or so after returning to the States.  Being an English teacher here and seeing how much English I speak in a day I thought it would never happen with Spanish, but getting to know my Chilean friends and spending entire days talking completely in Spanish with them has really helped me reach this milestone.

Some great opportunities have come my way here.  I was recently asked to head a team of 4 teachers that are giving an intensive English class to a bank executive for 25 hours a week.  He´s moving to New York to manage a bank there in a few months, and therefore his English has to be top notch once he arrives.  I´m teaching him for 10 of those 25 hours and am in charge of his overall program.  It´s an honor to get to work with someone so high up in a company and also to be trusted to manage his progress.

I´ve also been lucky to come across some private classes teaching English to kids.  The students are all well-behaved and eager to learn, and so it´s a really enjoyable experience.  It also makes you think of how to teach particular grammar concepts in a kid-friendly way and also is a nice break from adults for a few days a week.

And of course I have been getting together with friends and catching up on the weekends.  Here are some pictures from a sushi night, birthday outing, and a barbeque.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cooking and Bike Rides

I love my new apartment, especially the kitchen.  It's very convenient not having a huge stove to maintain.  Rather than that, I have 2 hot plates and an oven under it.  So this is what it looks like when I'm cooking:

The space allows for just what I need, and not anything more.  And I like it that way, as I'm not consuming more than what I need as a person.

Another thing that I love about being here in Chile is that you can buy things in small amounts.  Here are packets of ketchup, mayo, and strawberry jam:

When I was living on my own back in the States I would buy things like this in average-sized bottles and packaging, which in the end would be too much for one person to eat on his own.  Then I would feel guilty about not finishing it all and having to throw it out.  What I love is that I don't experience that here.

I've been lazy about it for a while, but after almost a year I took my bike out for a ride.  I had to take it to a gas station and get air put into the tires, but the effort was worth it.  Even though we are technically in fall we're still having sunny days in the 80s.  I took a ride in a bike lane up Antonio Varas, which is a main street right near my apartment.

I encountered the usual road traps of bike riding: glass in the road, pedestrians deciding to walk in the bike lanes, and cars parked in the bike lanes.  Santiago, however, has an extra obstacle: stray dogs.  Luckily I didn't have any encounters during my ride today, but one of my coworkers had a dog chase him and then rip his pant leg off of his khakis on his way to the work.

I only rided for aout 45 minutes, but it felt great.  It reminded me of how good it feels to ride in the sunshine, and the glowing feeling you get from breaking a sweat and feeling the sun.  It also brought back memories of biking around Los Angeles before I had a car there.  I almost don't believe that I rode my bike to student teaching from Eagle Rock to Glendale 5 days a week and would regularly bike from Eagle Rock to Griffith park on the weekends.

Then I started remembering biking on past vacations: San Francisco, Berlin, Munich, Oaxaca, and Barcelona are a few of the places.  I don't know exactly what it is, but I'm realizing that biking is a pasison of mine and I always have such fond memories of it.  My bike was dormant for almost a year, but I'm glad that I finally got it back out on the road.  I'm looking forward to getting out and riding around more while we still have warm weather.

Here are some pictures from my ride today: