Friday, February 1, 2019

Reflections, Nostalgia, and a New Beginning

I'm sitting in a Santander Work Cafe in Ñuñoa.  Outside it is a scorching 37 degrees, but luckily it is air conditioned here.  

As I sit here, I am overcome with a wave of nostalgia.  I started this blog in January 2010, a little over 9 years ago.  At that time little did I know the adventures I would encounter over that time period which included earthquakes, traveling around South America, getting to know a beautiful country and its people, and making new friends all along the way.

My time started working as a teaching assistant at a school and living in a house in a run down area of downtown Santiago.  I then moved to an apartment living with 2 Chileans in the neighborhood of Ñuñoa, and after being there for 6 months I got my own apartment.  After 7 years there I made the transition to a larger one bedroom apartment but only 4 blocks away.  Come to think of it, I am around the corner of the apartment that I shared here in Ñuñoa.

As for my career, I was barely scraping by when I first arrived.  Living in Santiago is doable if you work hard and keep your costs low, but that isn't always easy.    Starting out earning 360,000 Chilean pesos a month, I was naive and didn't understand the cost of living.  I was able to make the transition to teaching at institutes where the pay and conditions were much better, and from there I moved up in earnings through new opportunities.

If you had asked me in 2010 if I would still be living in Santiago and if I saw myself being my own boss, I would have probably laughed in your face.  But here I am.

Now that I have my own website, I feel it's time to take my professional plans more seriously.  One part of this sadly means bringing an end to this blog.  

I will continue blogging, but all new blog posts will be on my website,  There I plan to update regularly with posts about what's happening in my life but also posts about English teaching in Chile and in general.

Thank you for everyone who has read and commented over these past 9 years.  I don't get notifications when comments come through, so if I somehow missed your comment along the way feel free to get in touch through my new website and blog.  

Nos vemos!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

End of the Year Post

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!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Trip to Peru and Unexpected News

I've been missing in action for a while, as I've put off blogging until I let the dust settle on some things.

A few weekends ago I visited some friends in Tacna, Peru.  It's along the border with northern Chile, and it's not really known as a tourist destination.  I caught an early flight from Santiago to Arica Friday morning and then got a taxi across the border.  One more taxi from the Tacna bus station got me to Allison and Alex's bright pink house with a blue door.

We became friends in Santiago, so getting to see them in another part of the world was really great.  I enjoyed walking around town with them, playing Settlers of Catan, and eating delicious food.  Allison had made some butter cookies, and they were perfect to go with tea and catching up.  On Saturday night they also had a barbecue, and it was so nice playing Setters of Catan while enjoying good food and warm weather.  We continued playing as the sun went down and then sat around talking.

The weekend flew by, and before I knew it I was back to Santiago on Sunday evening.  Although it was a short trip, I'm glad that I took the chance to visit them and get out of Santiago for a bit.

In the past two weeks I have been hit with 2 pieces of unexpected news.

The first one is that Photobucket (a website that lets you upload and store your photos) changed its policies overnight.  Before now I was able to store my photos on Photobucket and then use a link that they provide to put my photos up on my blog.  Photobucket has decided to change that policy, and so if I want my photos and videos that are on my blog to reappear again, I need to buy a premium membership to the tune of $40 a month or $400 a year.

While I can understand that businesses need to make money, the fact that this change occurred overnight with no warning and that there isn't a more affordable option really frustrates me.  Almost all of my photos from the past 8 years have been linked through Photobucket, so essentially the visual element of my blog is gone.

I have the following options if I don't want to pay Photobucket:

1. Download my photos and videos from Photobucket, and then upload them to a website that does something similar for less money.  In that case, I would have to take down all the broken links to photos and videos and reupload them from the new site.  For 7 YEARS OF BLOG POSTS.

2. Donwload my photos and videos from Photobucket, and get my own website and see if I can import my blog there.  In that case, I would still have to reupload all the photos and videos and hope that there would be enough storage for them.  

3. Leave my blog as it is.  It would break my heart to do this, but I'm overwhelmed with the amount of work it would take to restore it on another site.  

At this point I don't know what I'm going to do.

The other unexpected news was the death of Chester Bennington.

For anyone that doesn't know me, I'm a huge Linkin Park fan.  I first saw them when they performed at Rock am Ring in June 2001 in Germany.  I bought Hybrid Theory and have been hooked since.  I've never been one to really fit into social groups or have an easy time expressing anger in a healthy way, and I've gone through life feeling misunderstood and written off by others.  At times in my life, their music has eerily given me advice on working through difficult situations.  I remember sitting in German class in college with Don't Stay stuck in my head.  I was incredibly stressed out and unhappy at that point of my college career, and despite trying to work through difficulties of getting a degree in music it was at that point that I realized I had to change my path.  I then changed my course of study to Spanish, German, and Education.  My mother passed in April 2007, and a few weeks later Linkin Park released their album MInutes to Midnight with the song Leave Out All the Rest.  I saw them in concert in Los Angeles a few times, Philadelphia once, twice in Santiago, and I got to meet them before a concert in Las Vegas in 2008.  I had tickets to the August 1st show, but it has been cancelled.

As someone that has dealt with his share of mental health challenges, it breaks my heart to see someone take their life.  Despite that, I'm really working towards focusing on the positive impact Chester had on the lives of so many people.  He survived being abused by an adult male as a young child.  He turned to drugs and alcohol in middle school and high school to cope, but then he found music.  Being a part of something bigger and pursing his dream of making music gave him the chance to channel his energy and use music to express what he had gone through, but ultimately he lost his battle with depression on July 20th.  He took his life on the day of Chris Cornell's birthday, a friend of his who he really admired and had taken his life earlier this year.

If you look at their newest album One More Light, you can see some eery references that might have been alluding to his suicide if you look at the song titles:
Nobody Can Save Me
Good Goodbye
Sorry for Now
Talking to Myself

It's still hard for me to believe that I won't ever get to hear Chester sing live again.  It's a huge loss for not only Linkin Park fans but also the history of music.  Despite that, I'm trying to focus on the positive impact Chester has had and the memories I have from seeing him in concert.

I'd like to post some tribute photos from concerts I've gone to over the years, but thanks to Photobucket that will have to wait for another time.

I don't like to end blog posts on such a down note, but these things are a part of life.  Now it's just a matter of finding the positive and focusing on it.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

5 More Years

About a month and a half ago, I started the process to renew my permanent residency in Chile.

The process is fairly straightforward.  Once you have permanent residency, you just have to bring 3 or 4 documents to the civil registry.  They then take a new photo, ask you a few questions, and give you a temporary ID card until your new one is ready.

I've found that what is straightforward in practice, however, is not always so straightforward in Chile.  Why do I say that?

Well, after carefully reading the requirements on the civil registry's website I made an appointment online (something that is relatively new here) and brought the required documents with me.  At the front door of the area specifically for foreigners renewing their ID cards there was a woman checking everyone's documents.  It turns out that the certificado de permanencia from the international police that I brought from 2012 wasn't valid.  I needed to get an updated one from the international police.  As she told me this I smiled and thanked her, while inside grumbling that while it made sense that I needed an updated one that it made no mention of it on the website.

Getting any document from the international police in the past few years has proven to become a daunting task.  If you need to get a document from them as a foreigner in Santiago you must go to one specific office.  This results in incredibly long lines, and I've heard of people arriving at 5:00 in the morning in order to get in line.  (The office opens at 8.)  After having mistakenly gone to the wrong office to get the document I needed, I then enlisted the help of a lawyer.  If you provide him with the information about the visa and paperwork that you need, he will get it for you.

I made contact and after a few emails he determined he was able to help me.  I went to a notary near my apartment and signed a power of attorney and emailed him scans of the necessary documents to get the certificado de permanencia on my behalf. 

A few days later, he contacted me that he had gone to the office, but they refused to accept a photocopy of my tarjeta de permanencia.  They told him that they needed to see the original.

It's not uncommon for people in government positions to interpret rules and requirements differently, and so if you need a document or visa you are at the mercy of the person helping you.  Apparently in the past he had been able to get the document I needed with a photocopy.  That means that either people in the past had given him paperwork not following the rules of seeing the original document OR the person that was helping him with my paperwork wasn't reading the requirements correctly that a photocopy was acceptable.

In either case, after some internal debate I gave him the original.  The following day he was able to get the document I needed and returned the original to me.  I now had everything I needed!

When I didn't have the necessary paperwork when I went the first time, I booked a new appointment for the week after.  I made my way back to the civil registry in downtown.  I presented all my paperwork to the same woman, and she frowned in disapproval.

According to her, I needed a photocopy of one of the documents IN ADDITION to the original.  I distinctly remember the website making no mention of it, but I knew better than to argue about it.  I went out, made the photocopy, and returned a few minutes later.

I made my way inside, and after waiting a few minutes my number was called.  The woman looked at my paperwork and told me that I didn't need the photocopy of the document I just copied and accepted everything else.  She verified that my address was current, asked me where I'd like to pick up my ID card, and also if I'd like to register to vote.  I told her I'd get my ID card in Ñuñoa and agreed to registering to vote, and then she took my picture.  As is the case every time, the glare off of my glasses and my propensity to blink made the picture-taking process a challenge.  Luckily she was patient.  She handed me a confirmation of my enrollment to vote, a code to check the status of my ID card, and my temporary ID card.

As I walked out, I breathed a sigh of relief.  My ID card was set to expire May 31st, and I had completed the process a few weeks in advance.  My new ID card was supposed to be ready around June 6th, and I got an email that it was ready on the 1st.  

After my Friday morning class last week I went to civil registry office in Ñuñoa and was in and out in 5 minutes.

So, what does this mean and why is it so important?

On the most basic level, I have another 5 years that I can stay in Chile without having to file any paperwork or renew any visas.

But there's so much more to it than that.

As I was catching up with a friend over coffee a few days ago, he told me how much he admired how I came here 7 years ago knowing no one.  Looking back at the journey of starting as a teaching assistant at a school, working at institutes and universities, and now teaching completely independently makes me realize how far I've come professionally. Managing my finances in another country, paying off my loans from graduate school, getting an apartment, and the day to day tasks of cooking, cleaning, and staying healthy while maintaining a social life and growing personally and professionally has been no easy task.  Sometimes I fail to recognize that, and I'm so grateful for the people in my life that give me those reminders.

Another part of it is The American Dream.  The idea that if you go to college and graduate school, study hard, and work hard at your job that you can achieve financial security.  I followed those steps, but the financial stability was already deteriorating when I entered the workforce as a teacher in 2006.  While I didn't expect to be handed a job on a silver plate, given my three teaching credentials and MA in Education I didn't expect to have such a difficult time finding a job and having to accept whatever job offer I got.  I didn't expect having to move from one school and one city to another to follow where an opening was located.  It was very disheartening to pour my heart and soul into a school only to find out that I was being let go due to budget cuts.  The American Dream had failed me.

Chile has given me so many unique opportunities.  I'm able to live in a safe part of Santiago with an incredible view for an affordable price.  I've been able to travel around this beautiful country to see deserts, forests, mountains, and lakes.  I've been able to work with people from all types of industries and present at national teaching conferences.  I've been able to get to know people from all over the world, each from a different walk of life and at varying ages, all in Chile for a variety of reasons.  I've been able to open up my mind to new ways of thinking and adapt in ways that I never thought would be necessary.  I've been able to grow in so many ways that I would have if I had stayed in the United States.

As I type this, I feel immense gratitude to not only Chile but also to all of the people that I have met along the way that have been a part of my experience.  Whether the friendship or relationship was positive or negative or short or long, all of them have helped shape who I am today.

Today I begin my journey of 5 more years in Chile.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Linkin Park Returns to Chile, A Cybersecurity Threat, and Offending a Police Officer

After 7 years, Linkin Park returned to Chile.

I bought 2 tickets when they went on presale back in December, and I was excited about it to put it mildly.  Unfortunately I ended up having an extra ticket at the last minute, and despite my efforts of trying to find someone else to go with my no one was able to go with such short notice.  I was disappointed to not have someone to share the experience with, but I decided to make the best of it and make it a date with myself.

I put on my Linkin Park hoodie that I've had since college, spiked my hair, and headed out.  I had never been to a concert at the Movistar Arena before, so I wasn't sure what to expect with the line and wait to pick up will call tickets.  There were a ton of people, but as I went through the lines for security everything moved quickly.

Then I realized that I needed to show my ticket to get through.  I made my way back and to the area off to the side, and I was able to walk right up to will call.  I passed my ID card through the bars, and then I signed my name, date, and signature to confirm the reception of the tickets.  I opened the sealed envelope and admired the tickets.

I made my way through security with plenty of time to spare.  After walking around to look at the shirts and hats on sale and the food offerings, I settled on a snack of French fries with a soda.  I then made my way to my seat.

It was about 8:20, and Rage Against the Machine was playing.  My seat was left of the stage near the front, and I had a really nice view.  (I sprung from the most expensive tickets that weren't a VIP experience).  I anxiously ran to the restroom at 8:58 and rushed back.

Rage Against The Machine had left the stage, and everyone was waiting in anticipation.  The lights darkened, and at 9:05 the show started.

In case you haven't ever seen them in concert, Linkin Park puts on an AMAZING show.  They play their songs, perform alternate versions of their hits, and get the audience involved.  They played for almost 2 hours, and the feeling of euphoria was indescribable.

As they were on stage saying their goodbyes and waving to the audience, I decided to head out to beat the crowd.  After waiting for buses, then 2 cancelled Ubers, and then waiting for another bus I made it home in at about 12:30.  I had the music running through my head all night, but I eventually fell asleep.

The positive vibes will continue, as their new album One More Light is coming out tomorrow.  In addition, I was able to grab 2  pre-sale tickets to their concert when I'm back in the States in a few months.

The following Sunday I got a rude awakening.  When I tried to check my email, I didn't have an internet connection.  After tying in my password, I was told it was incorrect.  I then noticed that there was a new wireless connection.  It had the same exact name as my wireless connection, but it was open (and therefore unsecured).  

It freaked me out, and I gave the conserje (front door guy) a call.  He told me it was a security issue and that I should call the police right away.  I did so, and in the meantime I posted to Facebook from my phone asking for advice.  I got a stream of helpful and supportive comments, and about half an hour later a police officer arrived.  He was probably in his 50s with greying hair.  As I explained the situation to him and showed him my computer, my doorbell rang again. It was his partner, a female officer probably in her early 30s.  

The male officer seemed reluctant to file a report since there was no evidence that anything had been stolen or damaged at that point, but the female officer told me it would be a good idea to have it as a precaution in case anything happened in the future.

In the end I decided to file a report to be on the safe side.  As she took the report, the male officer spoke into his walkie talkie, and then we got to making small talk.  He brought up foreigners living in Chile and mentioned how when he went to eat in a Korean restaurant and assumed that the people that worked there were from China and called them chinos there were a bit offended and corrected him. 

 As is the case in Chile in general, he didn't seem to notice cultural and ethnic distinctions that people from other countries recognize and consider important.  This is something that irritates me, and I've been working on speaking up when people say things that are ignorant or disrespectful in a tactful way.  In a calm voice, I brought up that if he were in the United States and told people he was from Chile, he might be mistaken for being Mexican, Argentinean, or Peruvian.  The male officer was unphased, but the female officer's eyes turned wide and she was visibly taken aback.  She said that she wouldn't mind being mistaken for Mexican or Argentinean, but (in her words) Peruvians are so lazy that she would be insulted.

The rest of the event went smoothly, and they gave me the necessary information if I needed the police report.

The next step was to call my internet service provider, VTR.  After about 40 minutes, I got a new wireless connection created with a new password.  It worked for a few hours, and then I was once again locked out of it and my password was incorrect.

After another call to VTR, they told me that they needed to send out a technician.  I scheduled a visit for the following day (Monday) between 1 and 4.  In the meantime I consulted the advice I had gotten on Facebook and called a friend that works with computers, and he patiently explained the situation to me.  Basically somebody had figured out my modem's username and password, so no matter how many times I reset a wireless connection they would be able to change it on me.

I used the wireless hotspot from my phone to connect to the internet, and after about 10 minutes I was locked out of that connection and a duplicate open connection appeared.  The situation left me anxious and frustrated, so I gave up on technology for the day.

In the end, everything worked out.  I got a confirmation call from VTR at 11:45 for the service visit, and the technician arrived at 1:45.  He explained everything and helped me set up a much more secure modem username and password as well as a new wireless connection, and he was done by 2:15.  VTR even called me later in the day to be sure that the situation was resolved.

I'm pretty careful about my safety and security, but this situation was a reminder to be more cautious with my cyber security too.  Luckily I didn't lose anything, but it's important to remember that I'm probably a bit more vulnerable than I had thought.  The anxiety that gripped me on Sunday has subsided, and the heightened awareness is a positive feeling.

Part of being alive is feeling range of emotions and seeing the positive sides of things, and I'm in a place that I'm able to do that.  For that I'm grateful.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Puerto Montt, the National Census, and Networking

It's the first full weekend of May, and I'm writing this from a bed and breakfast in Puerto Montt.

I've been down in the south of Chile for the past few days.  The IATEFL Conference was in Puerto Montt this year, and the theme of the conference was meeting the needs of Special Educational Needs (SEN) students.  There were 2 plenary speakers/presenters that really stood out to me: Sally Farley from the University of Kent and Phil Dexter from the British Council UK.  They both have a vast amount of knowledge and expertise in the areas of inclusive education, and they were both very engaging speakers.

There were much fewer people at the conference that I knew this year, and I found myself not in much of a mood to get to know people or socialize.  Having a conference that starts at 8:45 in the morning and goes until 6:30 in the evening on a Saturday makes for a long day, so I'm telling myself that it's not realistic to be "on" during that entire time, especially as an introvert.  Despite that, it was nice seeing what is happening with inclusive education and to see that I'm already doing things that are considered inclusive practices.

Knowing that the conference was going to be an all-day affair, I booked my trip to Puerto Montt giving myself the day before as well as the day after the conference to relax.  Walking through the streets on Friday afternoon was a nice reminder of how much more tranquil southern Chile is compared to Santiago. It's greener and things move more slowly here.  People know each other, and you don't have smog constantly overhead when you look to the mountains.

The experience of traveling here has been so nice.  I stayed at a hospedaje, which is like a bed and breakfast.  The family is warm and welcoming, but they let me go about my business.  I have my own bedroom and share a bathroom, but I haven't actually met any of the other guests.  I got a nice lunch at a restaurant called El Fogoto de Don Pepe, a well-known steakhouse in the area.  I'm not usually one for sopaipillas, but when I saw how fluffy they were I knew I had to try them.  The waitress wasn't lying when she told me that they are the best in Chile.  Granted I'm not a sopaipilla expert, but I wish they were open today to enjoy them again.

That same evening I took the bus to Puerto Varas and got to meet up with a former student.  Natalie was a part of the CORFO class I taught in 2012, and we hadn't seen each other since then.  We ate at a German restaurant and caught up about what has been happening in our lives over the past 5 years, and it was so great reconnecting.

Besides this trip, another "big" event that happened in Chile was the national census on April 19th.  It was a Wednesday, and with the exception of businesses run by their owners everything was supposed to be closed.  At least one person of each household was expected to stay home in order to answer questions when the census takers arrived, and families all over Chile spent the day at home waiting for their doorbell to ring.  Those with children baked cookies or prepared a small meal for them as a sign of their appreciation for the civic duty they were doing.  Chileans shared their stories of the visit from census takers as well as those who were census takers, and it was interesting reading my Facebook news feed to see what everyone's experience was like.  

As for me, I had a Skype call in the morning and then a class to teach in the area around lunchtime.  I spent the morning doing some light cleaning and preparation for classes.  I felt nervous as I headed out to my class, as I saw a census taker sitting in the lobby.  After a relaxed class and chocolate cake that came straight out of the oven from my student, I made my way back home.

I walked into my building at about 2:45, and now there were 4 census takers sitting in the lobby.  I thought I had missed them, and I started to get anxious.
"Perdona, soy del dpto 2103.  ¿Ya pasaron?"  (Excuse me, I'm from apartment 2103.  Have you already visited my apartment?)
No, por nada!  Alguien debe estar en tu piso ahora." (Not at all!  Someone should be on your floor now.)

I breathed a sigh of relief and made my way up to my apartment.  The census taker was knocking on my neighbor's door as I got out of the elevator.  About 10 minutes later, he rang my doorbell.  He was about 18 years old, friendly, but down to business.  A few times I had to ask him to repeat a word that I wasn't sure that I had understood correctly, but he was patient.  It was over in about 10 minutes, and I got my new sticker.

While I wouldn't have gotten in trouble for not being home when they knocked on my door, it would have been a pain to have needed to go to the municipality in person to answer the questions or try to figure out an online form as a foreigner.

As a part of my commitment to maintaining connections as a way to stay happy, I went to the business networking alliance's monthly meeting last week.  It was at a microbrewery in Bellavista, which is the type of place I probably wouldn't go to on my own.  There was a mix of friendly and new faces, and catching up with others while meeting some new people was a really nice experience.  Given that I had had classes earlier in the day and my introverted batteries that drain quite easily, I headed out after a few hours.

The weather is changing as fall sets in, but summer has been teasing us from time to time with a day getting up to 80 or so every once in a while.  While I don't like winter, I am happy to have a change of season as a reminder to myself that just as we experience seasons of the year we also go through different seasons in our life.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Making Progress

I'm sitting at my favorite coffee shop in Santiago, Condi.  It's the day before Easter Sunday, and I'm getting over a cold that started mid week.

When I get sick, it's often a sign to me that something isn't working in my life.  In this case, I haven't been good about managing my time and keeping up with all my professional responsibilities.  I hold myself to a high standard, and when I fall short and fall into a cycle of self criticism, not taking action, and then the cycle repeating.

Taking a day off helped me to pause and evaluate how the year is going so far.  I'm grateful for the wonderful students I have in Santiago.  I'm developing new material for classes and am keeping them fresh while helping students stay engaged with English both in and outside the classroom.  I have wonderful friends here and have made social plans and met up with them on a fairly regular basis.  (Maintaining my social connections and meeting up with friends on a regular basis is one of my goals for this year.)

Despite that, my people-pleasing tendencies and fear of change are holding me back.  It's not always easy for me to turn down potential students and projects and put limits on my time, and it's easy to fall into familiar patterns of escaping from the world through watching excessive television and eating unhealthy rather than engaging in meaningful activities that will help me grow both personally and professionally.  The idea of expanding my independent teaching into a business seems very daunting and overwhelming when I consider the amount of work that would go into it, but it's something I want to do.

Looking at the bright side of things, social gatherings in the past few months have been a wonderful source of joy.  A friend had left Santiago but then decided to move back, and some friends and I organized a surprise party.  It had been his birthday a few weeks before then, so it worked out to be a nice way to bring a group of friends together to start out the year.

There have also been a few birthday parties.  One friend celebrated at a brewery in Talagante.  They had a variety of handcrafted beers, wine, soft drinks, and pizza.  The outdoor space was lovely, and the weather was perfect.  The following day another friend celebrated her birthday by playing laser tag.  I hadn't played it in over 10 years, and it was a lot of fun.  Both of my friends have such interesting social circles with people from all over the world, and I really enjoyed talking with people and the social connection.

My laser tag team.  We ended up winning!
Last but not least, I've started having a weekly lunch date with a friend.  We go to a different picada (a small family-owned restaurant) in downtown each week and catch up about how our classes are going.  It is a great way of being sure we keep in touch, and it's so nice having someone to talk to on a regular basis about our professional lives.

There are always the meetings with friends to play Settlers of Catan too.  There's friendly competition in the group with banter that goes back and forth, and it's always an enjoyable time.

This weekend is a time for me to start taking some steps outside my comfort zone and continue growing.  The first step I've taken is purchasing a courses that interest me from The Great Courses: The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins.  I've always found etymology interesting, and it will be something that will enhance my the knowledge that I bring to my teaching.  Other steps will take time, but I know to be patient with myself and to go at my own pace.