Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hilarious student quotes... about me

Haha!! My students crack me up.

Top two quotes I've received from students so far:

1. "Erica, you are half spicy woman, half crazy monkey!" (From Pedro, who has the pleasure of hearing my latest crazy stories every Friday afternoon.)


2. "Now I suppose I need a psychologist more than a teacher. The new girl is a good teacher, but she needs your piece of madness... and your portion of beer." (From Guillermo, in an email lamenting that I was no longer teaching him, and comparing me to his new teacher.)

I really, really, REALLY <3 my students!

I'll post more quotes if I think to write them down. I get some good ones from time to time. :-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Felíz Día de la Primavera

Happy First Day of Spring!! To me! And to those back home, happy first day of fall! Which is fine I guess, but spring is way better. :-)

Today was gorgeous. It was really a great day, considering it's Monday. I worked all morning teaching in an office, then hit the gym, and then wandered outside with some friends to drink mate, attempt to fly Diana's homemade kite, and sit outside in the grass in Puerto Madero... the sun was bright and gorgeous, the sky a perfect blue. To top it off, I then taught my afternoon class outside at a café over a café con leche. Couldn't have asked for more.

It's also Día del Estudiante (Student Day) today, so all the kids didn't have school, and were out in full force drinking beer in the streets. There must have been thousands of teenagers wandering around drunk and happy in the sun, and I marveled at their life, and contemplated how I might have turned out had I been permitted to do such a thing at age 13. (Kids here ages 12-17 can go to certain nightclubs... they just have to leave at the reasonable hour of.. ahem... 3:00am, when the adults arrive... it's so crazy to think about, so different from my childhood!!!) However, there were also a lot of police out monitoring things, so nothing too crazy happened.

From here it will just get hotter and hotter until the sweltering heat and oppressive humidity finally take over Buenos Aires this summer... around that time, I will be off on my next travel adventure, hopefully to places equally warm and yet significantly less humid. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 18, 2009

...e iré lejos, como un bohemio...

I've made some big, big, BIG life decisions recently, so listen up, peeps!

First of all, my biggest news of all is that I've decided to apply to graduate school at the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont for Fall '10. Yes, this means that if I get it (fingers crossed please!) I will be gracing you all with my presence back in the NE. The program would be a 1-year Masters in International Education, the focus being on managing international education/study programs, which many of you know that 1) I've wanted to do for a long time, and 2) well, I'm kind of perfect for. :-) So I'm very excited to have discovered this program, and will be working on getting my application in ASAP!

Also, I'll be leaving Buenos Aires, basically for good, the first week of December. This is something I've gone back and forth about forever... do I stay? do I go? keep trying? will it get better? will I learn to love it? Frankly, the past 7.5 months that I've been here have been bittersweet. I've learned so much, grown and changed so much, and gained incredibly valuable life experience, and I wouldn't change that for anything. However, it's also taken its toll on me. The people aren't what I'd --ahem-- wished they would be. It's not an open, friendly place. I have my friends, most of whom are from other countries like me, and I love them to death. But it's a lonely life here. I never quite fit in, never quite made it totally work. Every day has been a challenge with work life, cultural issues, people, and just general navigation of my daily life. And challenges are good, and its been good for me in many ways, but I think I've gotten what I can out of this experience, and it's time to move on. I just never fell in love with Buenos Aires the way I guess I hoped I would.

So, this is not bad news! It's actually very exciting. After spending this whole year teaching (and really loving it in the end), I feel so confident about this decision, and so ready to take on whatever life throws at me next. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and that each decision we make, each turn we make when the road divides and we choose our path, is right. It's right, even when it's wrong. Because as the old saying goes, "when one door close, another door always opens." I live my life by this philosophy, and it's taken me this far.

My next adventure is (well, after I turn in my grad school application, of course) to do a long trip around South America. It's such a huge, diverse continent, with so many amazing things to see an do, and I want to soak up as much as possible before I go. Because who knows when the next time I will be passing through S. America will be! I've decided to travel for approximately 4 months, December-March, then popping back into BsAs for my good byes (and to get my stuff) and then heading back to the States around mid-April.

The very-tentative-and-very-subject-to-change plan is to visit both the northern and southern regions of Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Brasil, and Bolivia. My friend Dave will be down for a visit in November, and we'll go to Patagonia together, thus checking that off the list! So the rest will happen Dec-March, and will probably go in the order I listed them. I want a full month in Colombia and another full month in Brasil, I want to climb Machu Picchu, I want to explore Bolivia, I want to spend Carnaval in Rio! I want to do a lot. And you know what, I'm young (for a little while longer!) so why not?

Travel is worth going totally broke for.

So that, my friends, is my grand update. I welcome any and all suggestions you have about my travels, and any feedback you have on these new plans and ideas! I'm very excited, nervous too, but mostly just happy to throw my backpack on and do some serious traveling, and then see my friends and family back in the States again. By the time I get back in April, 14 months will have passed. I think that's plenty.

Love to all!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The People's Republic of Florida

Quick rant-- I'm not so sure having been to Florida exactly counts as a visit to the United States. I mean, sure, somewhere in the fine print I suppose Florida is technically part of the US, but... come on! We all know that Florida is a separate country... at least culturally speaking.

So, for those of you saying that you've experienced American culture (and especially to those of you who seem to have strong opinions of "who my people are" based on that experience) because you spent a week or two lounging on the beaches of Miami (speaking Spanish, no less) and then another week parading from one attraction to another at Disney World, well you, my friend, are mistaken.

That is all! :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Teacher's Day!

Today is Teacher's Day in Argentina-- that's me! I'm celebrating in a couple ways.

1) Tonight I am going out to dinner with everyone from the English Institute that I work for, Network Institute. They've invited us all out to celebrate our day, and conveniently the restaurant is located right down the street from me. Also, it'll be a good opportunity for me to meet everyone, because although I recognize most of the teachers by sight, I really don't know any of them at all. They are all Argentines (I'm the one native speaker at the school, so of course they pimp me out) so it should be interesting. I'm looking forward to a quiet night of free dinner, meeting my colleagues, and celebrating my very first Teacher's Day together. :-)

2) YESTERDAY, I QUIT WORKING FOR THAT CRAZY %$#*& VIVIAN!!! I couldn't be happier! The story is, she never pays me on time, ever. And then when I tell her I need my money, she either doesn't answer the phone or return calls, or she just yells at me and hangs up on me. She's really, truly awful. The worst. So this month, as always, when pay day came and went once again, I sent her my usual emails and made my usual phone calls, and she ignored me. So I called her a million times, and she ignored me. I got really mad, realizing she was screening my calls, and finally called her from another phone... and like magic, she answered! ...Then proceeded to yell and scream at me and.. you guessed it... hang up on me. Ughhh I hate her. So I finally got in touch with her husband, and yesterday after a huge headache and a lot of stress, finally got my money from him. The whole process was incredibly stressful, and this happens every month! And it seems like every month just gets worse and she treats me more and more disrespectfully. I mean, I'm her employee! So I made a difficult but ultimately good decision, and I decided that even though I love the students I teach for her, I have to stop working for her. It's not worth the money, and it's not worth the strain on my mental health. The moment the money hit my hand last night, I sat down and sent her an email explaining that I was resigning, effective immediately. This decision means a smaller paycheck, but it also means more free time, more time to potentially take on new students, and more time to take care of myself. And a whole lot less stress.

Happy Teacher's Day to me!