So it's New Year's Eve.
I'm lying in bed, and I can hear the dance music from the Estadio Nacional loud and clear as I type this.
With the inability to share photos since mid year thanks to the change in Photobucket's policies, my motivation to post updates has been stymied to say the least. Despite that, I think an end of the year post is still in order.
Since my last update, the most significant events have been a trip back to the States, a Bruno Mars concert, and visiting a nutritionist.
I was back in Jersey and also visited friends in Colorado for a quick summer trip. Once I took out the travel days, it was about 9 days altogether. I was in Jersey for a few days before heading off to visit friends that live in the Snowmass/Basalt area. Ironically they are friends that also came to Santiago with TeachingChile. Two of them came in 2010 at the same time as me and then returned to the States, only to end up working at the same bilingual elementary school in Colorado. Another friend came a few years later after having found this blog, and after having lived in England with her husband for a few years they moved to the same area of Colorado when he got a teaching job in the area.
We hadn't seen each other since they left Chile, and so getting to catch up was so nice. We spent time enjoying the beauty of Colorado on some easy hikes, had some great food, and I taught them all how to play Settlers of Catan. Seeing what they are doing with their lives really helped strengthen our friendship and reminded me how much I enjoy traveling and value maintaining my social connections.
Back in New Jersey I caught up with friends and there was the usual summer family barbecue, and it was nice having some time to enjoy the summer weather before returning to the Chilean winter. I was supposed to see Linkin Park in concert with a friend, but given Chester's passing it was cancelled. We spent the day together, but we were both disappointed and had the concert on our mind. It was a short trip, but it was a nice break from Chile.
The next big event was the Bruno Mars concert in Santiago. It was at the Estadio Nacional, so just a 15 minute walk from my apartment. It worked out nicely that we were able to order Peruvian food for an early dinner before heading out. We got there early, and they had some photo opportunities set up. They not only took your photos in front of some pretty nice cars and in a scene of a 24 karat gold hotel (for the 24 Karat Magic World Tour), but they also printed out the photos and put them on a fridge magnet to keep as a memento.
We got cancha tickets, which means we were in the middle of the stadium standing up. There were huge screens set up on both sides of the stage, and we had a pretty good view most of the time. Bruno Mars puts on a great show with not only his singing and playing guitar, but also his dancing. The other band members also danced with each number, and they must have been exhausted by the end of it. The concert only lasted for about an hour, so given that we had paid $60.000 pesos I thought it was a bit short. Despite that, it was a really cool experience having seen Bruno Mars in concert.
The least glamorous thing that has happened in the second half of the year was a visit to a nutritionist. I had been putting it off for a while, but I came to the realization that no one is going to take care of me except for myself and that there was no point it putting it off any longer. It was hard hearing the nutritionist describe the meal plan I was to follow, but in the end it hasn't been that bad. Small changes like sweetener instead of sugar in my tea, light jelly instead of butter and jelly on bread, and lemon juice instead of olive oil on my salads haven't been that difficult, and I now have the added benefit of truly feeling Chilean now that I use lemon juice on salads.
As I type this, the DJ playing the music has pumped the music up a few more notches and is playing Gangham Style.
So, what are my thoughts on 2017?
It was a year with the goal of maintaining my social connections and getting out more. I feel like I did pretty well in this area, however I've also learned that not all friendships work out for the long run. Despite that, I can fondly look back and remember the good times.
It was also a year of travel. Visiting friends in Europe, Colorado, and Peru were deeply fulfilling experiences, and seeing new places helps me to get to know myself better.
In terms of professional growth, it has also been a good year. I went to the IATEFL conference in Puerto Montt as well as the TESOL conference in Santiago, and the dialogue with other teachers is something that is important to improve my professional practice. I've created podcast listening guides that my students can use to develop their listening skills outside of class, materials to help develop writing skills for international tests, and other materials related to various grammar points. My students have made progress with their goals with some of them moving to Canada and the UK for Masters and PhD programs.
In terms of personal growth, I've learned to be more patient with myself while also expecting more of myself. Working with a coach has helped me to get back into journaling, which has really helped me focus on my goals, pay attention to my thoughts, and process my emotions in a healthier way instead of just tuning out.
I've also dealt with disappointment as some projects and classes haven't worked out as I was hoping, but that's part of the process.
All in all, I'm grateful for the people I have in my life and the experiences I've had this year. I hope everyone reading has a Happy New Year and wonderful start to 2018!