Friday, July 15, 2011

Terminating the semester

The title for this post comes from the verb "terminar" which translates to "finish." So everyone is asking me if I am "terminating" the semester. It's one more example of how cognates don't always transfer successfully. (For other examples: Realizar, Recuperar, etc...). So be careful when you come here and use cognates all the time.

This has been a week full of ups and downs. Pretty much everyone has left me. Most people I know did their exams last week and then left last weekend or early this week to head home. But I'm glad I took the extra time to stay a little bit longer so that I could finish my grades and say goodbye to my students.

Grading was super stressful. It's always hard knowing you have someone's "fate" in your hands. These students pay $140 per semester to take English classes. And that is no small amount of money here. So I feel terrible every time I fail students. However, I am also the kind of teacher who tries really hard to help students not to fail. So by the end of everything, if they really did fail, it's kinda their fault in my eyes.

I ended up failing only 4 students in my one class. I fudged on one grade because she was .1 away from passing and I figured I probably made some kind of error somewhere so I gave her the extra partial point. But the 4 others really did fail. There was one boy I felt bad about failing because he "can do" the material he just doesn't. He sits in class and doesn't do anything and he doesn't do his homework. He was the only one who complained about his grade when I showed him that he failed. He kept telling me to go back and re-check my grades but I told him I couldn't "help him."

That's the phrase here: "Teacher, help me." Which translates to "teacher change my grade so I can pass." Lots of other students in other classes said this a lot. In my one friend's class, a girl faked fainting so he would feel bad for her. He told her to get up. In another class my friend had two students crying and begging. I was so glad I didn't have to deal with that. But, honestly, I think it's because the 3 students who didn't ask me to help them, knew they were going to fail and didn't hold it against me. They knew I had been fair.

So today I turned in all my grades and now I am terminated! My one class even took me out to dinner and got me THE BEST PRESENT EVER. They are the coolest slippers. They also got me a watch and a plaque thingy.

It has been suuuuuuper cold here recently. There is no heating so when it goes down to 45 at night and the house gets down to 55, it's freezing! It's so cold I have to talk myself into getting out of bed in the morning. Tungurahua usually has no snow on it, but recently the top has been covered in snow. Apparently August and July are "winter" months here. I'm glad I'm leaving!

I also ended my classes with the directors of the university. Two of them consistently showed up and the main director never showed up after the first week. Oh well. And in typical Ecua-fashion, they skipped the last day (today) and didn't tell me. So I woke up at 6:30 for nothing. It's one of the disappointments you get used to here.

Tomorrow I'm going to do laundry and clean the whole apartment. It should be super fun!... I have to decide on what I'm taking back and what I'm leaving. I know I'll need to throw a lot of clothes away and buy more while I'm in the states. A year of bad washing and clothes really do die. My goal is to only bring my medium suitcase back with me, but we'll see if that works out because I want to bring a lot of things back to Ecuador with me too. Then on Sunday I am heading to Quito, saying goodbye to my two favorite WorldTeach non-Ambato volunteers and then I'm heading to the airport. I'm actually going to sleep in the terrible Quito airport because my flight is at 6:40, so I need to check in by 4am and I just can't convince myself to get a hostal for 5 hours. Maybe it's a silly idea but I feel safe at the airport and if nothing else, I'll be guaranteed to sleep on the plane.

I might write one more blog post before I leave, but for now, this is it folks. The first year in Ecuador has terminated and I am heading back to the states! My cat, my family, my sister's new puppy, Chipotle, shopping, driving... so much to look forward to!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I bet you thought you'd never see that title for one of my blog posts. However, I just experienced the most Ecua-efficiency to date.

From the beginning: I was walking home from the bus stop and walking by the market. It was really, really crowded and people were shoving each other. Suddenly, I'm standing on the sidewalk trying to cross the street and two women SHOVE past me, but kinda take their time. I thought it was weird because they didn't have to shove that hard and they didn't have to take 5 seconds to do it. Then, right after it happened, I reached in my pocket, and I knew what had happened. I'd had my cell robbed. They are very crafty about it! I didn't know what was going on until after the fact. And of course, once I turned around, they were lost in the crowd. Awesome.

Efficiency: So after having my cell stolen I went up to my apartment and told my roommate. She told me exactly what to do. I then left my apartment, walked half a block, and went into the Movi store. There I said my cell phone had been robbed and I needed to get my number back. They took about 5 minutes and $3 to do this. So then I had my chip and my full cell credit was restored. Next, I crossed the street and went to buy a new cell phone. I asked the woman what the cheapest model was, she showed me, and for $40 I bought it. All in all, it took me 15 minutes and $45 to get everything back to normal (except I have no numbers of course). Efficiency, I think yes. But it is a little sad they Ecuador is efficient only when it comes to bad things such as having your cell stolen.

*Side note, the good news is, I really don't have to add many numbers to my phone because all the WorldTeach numbers I had aren't important anymore since pretty much everyone has left the country. I just need to get about 10 numbers (all of which are in my roommates phone) and I'm good.

Exams started last week. I think they are going pretty well. I imagine I will have to fail about 2-3 in each class, but we'll see how the grades work out. Lucy has already finished her grading and she had to fail several in each class. She said when she gave them their grades they cried, begged, and one even fainted. Thankfully, I think I have enough of a backbone to say, "Dude, you should have studied more and asked more questions." I hate when people blame the teacher for their lack of motivation and work.

Last weekend was cool. There was a big double birthday to go to at a dance club. It was a lot of fun.

Right now Lucy is packing to leave this afternoon. So I'll have the apartment to myself for awhile for grading and cleaning. I'll definitely miss her, but I pack and clean better when I'm alone. Then, on Sunday, I'll head to Quito and super early Monday morning I'll catch a plane back. A year is over so fast! But I'm super excited to go back and see Trixy and my family and friends!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ahh! 2 weeks left!

Well, 2 weeks before I head home for 5 weeks. There is so much to do! This week is a review week and then next week I have to start giving exams. But that requires so much work! There is giving each of the 3 tests (per class) calculating the grades, calculating the classwork grades, and then putting it into the Ecuadorian system of 10 points and then converting it with the other scores to the 20 point system. Basically it's a lot of math, and I hate math. But I'll just try and do it little by little and hopefully everything will be done on time. I basically have 2 days (wednesday and thursday) of next week to get it all done, because on friday I have to turn in the grades and give the students their scores.

On top of that this next week will be hectic. Because reviewing disjointed learning is hard. And the books we teach with are SO disjointed. Basically I'll be reviewing modals, past, future, and perfect tenses all at once. Hopefully they will remember most of it and reviewing will be easy. My advanced class is doing biographies. Last week we watched Never Say Never about Justin Bieber and this week they have to present their own biographies about someone from a different culture. It's a good way to wrap up reading, listening, speaking, and writing all in one project.

Then I have to decide what to pack. Should I bring everything back? Should I leave some stuff? I have no idea...

But this last week has been pretty good. Classes with the rectors are finally getting better. Two of them consistently show up (all except the president). Now we're working on "my, your, his her, our, etc..." and which verbs are non-action verbs and can't be progressive. (Ex: I see a bird, not I am seeing a bird). And with my other job, it's going nowhere fast. Most colleges are telling me they can't decide anything at all until the fall when classes are in session again. So we'll see what happens.

My sister got her puppy and I got to skype with him! He's so cute!! I can't wait to meet him.

This weekend was filled with some sad goodbyes. We all went and played ping-pong and pool one night to say goodbye to some people and then had a dinner party at my place last night to say goodbye to more people. Everyone is leaving! I guess it's good we're all leaving at the same time so no one is stuck here alone. But it's still sad!

And I think I've been to this bar called El Portal like three times this week for random get-togethers. It's a great bar because it has 2x1 drinks Monday-Saturday until 8pm. And they are quite strong so you can split it with a friend and get a drink for $2.25. They even have an amazing chocolate drink with baileys that's frozen. So yummy!

I've decided I'm really excited for next year when I can hang out with more Ecuadorians. Right now I feel tied to my WorldTeach friends and I don't like feeling tied down sometimes. I'd rather hang out with lots of people. So next year I think I'll make an effort not to get pulled into the new WorldTeach group that comes and really try and branch out.

I'll see most of you in 2 weeks!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy in Ambato

Last Saturday was so much fun! It was my roommate´s birthday and we had a pot-luck lunch/dinner/and dancing. We cleaned our place on Saturday morning and then starting around 2pm people came over and used our kitchen to cook. We had tons of pasta salad, hummus, 7 layer mexican dip, and lots more. I made strawberry shortcake with the bisquick my dad brought me and we made real hand-whipped whipped-cream. It was so good! The Ecuadorians had never had it before and they loved it. So the whole day we just relaxed and hung out and then at night we went to an awesome club. It´s on of those where you pay a bunch to get in ($8) and then that money goes towards buying alcohol for the group. We ended up getting tons of bottles because our group had about 18 people. Then we just danced salsa and bachata and reggeaton. Super fun night! Sunday was not so fun because I had to clean the apartment because Lucy had to go somewhere with her boyfriend for father´s day. But thankfully one of my friends came over and helped me clean. It was a disaster!

This week has been pretty slow. I´ve just been working and such. I think I´m going to Baños tonight and then going to see the monkeys again tomorrow. I love the monkeys! Then on Sunday we have a going away party for one of the guys who lives in my building, Papo. He is an Italian teacher and is leaving July 1st. It´s crazy that he and all of us are leaving so soon. This is just the first of a million goodbye parties. But it reminds me how happy I am that I´m coming back to Ecuador next year. I´m definitely not done here.

I´ve also been asked to do more at the university. I´m starting to be asked to contribute to magazines and help create curriculums. It´s cool that they trust me so much and want my help. Now if I could just get paid more for it...

I have also become a really good guacamole maker. It´s so cheap here! You can get 4 avocados for $1! So I make it all the time. That and patecones are my usual creations. But now that I know people like strawberry shortcake I´m sure I´ll make that too. Because you can get a bag of 50 strawberries for $1. Produce is so cheap! However, you have to know which stall in the market to go to. There are some nice ladies who charge me a fair price and others charge me almost 10x the amount it should be. Then they get surprised when I say that it costs too much and I´ll go somewhere else. I guess the blonde hair is deceiving.

Other than that, I found a cheap flight back to Ecuador. It should be around $730. The only catch is that I can´t book a real return ticket yet because it is too far in advance. So I´ll have to change that ticket and I think the change fee is $200. But even with that, $900 is not bad. It´s worth it!

And I think visa stuff is finally coming along. Sara assured me that the papers were being signed and I might have them in my hand as soon as next week. That´s good because if we don´t have them next week we NEED them the week after. Because people start leaving the 12th of July.

Not much else is new. I´ll try and post again soon :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

One month to go

Crazy! As of tomorrow I have one month until I go back to the states for a little over a month. It's so strange to think about because so much still needs to be done. The visa thing is taking longer than we thought it would because they aren't doing much work for it. Thankfully I think we got Sara (the director) to forcefully start working on getting us our paperwork. None of us want to come back here on just a tourist visa and have to deal with all it in September when we come back.

The job with the rector was put on hold this week because he is partying in Orlando, FL. I guess he should have thought about English lessons before going to the states...

My other job seems to be going quite well. I have about 5 universities that are really interested in an exchange program. But none of them can really do much for it until next fall when all the faculty come back. Hopefully though, with 5 interested, one will pan out.

My classes are going smoothly. We have about 3 more weeks of regular class and then exams. It will be tight to finish all of it but I'm sure I'll get it done. I just hope they do their end of the deal and study! We read "The Most Dangerous Game" in my advanced class and they really liked it. They are making a movie out of it too. If you haven't read it, it's a short story by Richard Connell and it's awesome.

I really love living in my apartment. Last weekend we had a birthday party for the Italian teacher who lives below us and tomorrow we are having a party for my roommate, Lucy. We are having a cook-out here on the balcony and then going to a salsa club. Maybe this time I'll learn how to salsa? We'll see...

But, the exciting news of this post, I met a very nice guy named Miguel at the party last week. He works at my university in the post-graduate section and his English is really, really good. I'll keep you updated if anything interesting happens. But as of now, we've gone on a date about everyday this week and I really think I like him. Crazy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Sad Goodbye

So last week all the volunteers and I made our way to Quito for our End of Service Conference. It was awesome to see everyone but sad to know that it would be the last time I'll see many of these people. On Thursday we had a few meetings to talk about our time here and then some of us went out to dinner together and chatted about our futures. Friday was the big conference day and we discussed what teaching has meant for us and how we can use it in our future jobs. We also talked about who is staying (about 9 people are staying in country!) and who is leaving. That night we had a really nice dinner party at a famous Ecuadorian restaurant (the food was good Ecuadorian, but was still pretty bad). We all gave speeches about each other and thanked our directors for everything they had done for us. The on Saturday we all said goodbye and headed back to our sites. It was a really nice time together but it was clear that some people weren't there. In total, 5 people left before their year was up for one reason or another. Out of 33 people, I think having only 5 quit is a good sign. The new February group only had 15 volunteers and already 5 have quit. Crazy.

The craziest part of my trip to Quito came Saturday night. We all went out to a bar and one of my friends had someone put ethanol in her drink. We didn't know it at the time and just thought she got really wasted. But after several hours she still wasn't anywhere near okay. The next morning we took her to the hospital and her blood alcohol content was 1.6! (The legal limit is .08). So basically the doctor said she almost died. It was pretty scary for all of us to hear that. The doctor also said it was a common thing for bartenders to do. They just slip ethanol in a drink and no one knows until the person is incapacitated. She will be fine though. But in our adventures of running her around to different doctors and police we had to go to the police hospital (where Correa was held back in September). You can see all the bullet holes on the walls and I can see where several people died on the ledge between the streets. It was kind of surreal. And of course the police couldn't do anything for her because their system is so crazy. We went to 3 police stations to get all the necessary paperwork only to find out that she needed to have more bloodwork done to file a complaint and that the police doctors couldn't do that until Monday, when clearly the results would be different. Oh well, that's Ecua-police for you.

The on Sunday I was a little sick so I rested most of the day and geared up for my full week of teaching. I think I'm finally getting into a groove with my students and with the book because they did much better on this quiz than previous ones. And in my level 8 class we are reading "The Most Dangerous Game" and I think they really like it. It's a pretty awesome short story that grabs the attention of most people.

I also started a really stupid new job. My director asked me if I would teach the president of the University and his two friends English. I said sure but had no idea what I was getting myself into. For the first day they showed up 45 minutes late. Then the next day they didn't show up at all and when they finally came in they asked me to give them class (to which I said no because I was doing something else). They just really want things to be their way all the time and that's not how class and teaching works. So now they've recruited an Ecuadorian teacher to teach them English (through speaking only Spanish) and I just sit there and help with pronunciation. It's the dumbest job ever because I'm 100% not needed. But I'm getting paid for it so I guess it's okay.

This weekend I have a few birthdays to celebrate and a bunch of planning to get done. I can't believe I leave Ecuador so soon!! It's crazy to think about!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I'm not a frequent poster anymore

Sorry guys, looks like I'm not posting too much these days. I keep forgetting and I'm not sure why. I'll try to be better about it.

Last weekend wasn't too exciting because I was at UTA all day Saturday making up class time and grading. But on Sunday I did go on a trip to Banos with some students. We ended up taking a chiva to the waterfalls and I hiked up Machay AGAIN. That is a hike. I liken it to about 30 flights of stairs at one time. But they had tons of fun and the waterfall is really pretty. It's always nice to see the Ecuas tired as well. Then after the waterfalls we went to the zoo in Banos. It's not so much a zoo as a monkey and bird area. There are lots of different kinds of monkeys and birds in small cages. It was actually pretty sad. But the zoo talked about how they were trying to rescue animals and save endangered animals. I don't know how well their doing because they had a puma in a 20ft x 20ft cage. And the zoo had a million stairs because it was located on a mountain (strange). So I hiked more stairs. All in all it was a fun day with some students but a terrible day for my foot. I really hope the doctor can fix my foot when I'm back in the states.

Then on Monday I gave more exams and graded non-stop for a while. On Tuesday I actually got to have class again and teach. It was fun and it felt like forever since I had taught. I came up with a cool listening exercise using a clip from the book "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and the students created skits predicting what would happen at the end of the story. Hopefully they liked it. The problem was, at the end of my second class I got a letter saying classes were canceled for Thursday because we had a meeting. So I told my students no class Wednesday or Thursday. On Wednesday I had to do the oral tests for the expertise test that I was helping with. On Wednesday morning I found out I didn't have to go to the meeting and could have class on Thursday but I had already told my students we didn't have class and I wasn't going to see them to tell them otherwise. So basically I had to cancel class for nothing. It was so dumb. They really need to work on their communication at UTA. Maybe next year I'll try and help them with that...

So Wednesday I was helping with the oral tests and it was a neat experience. However, that teacher that I don't like was also there and he teaches most of them. And so he would grade them differently and with tons of bias. It was super unprofessional and I'll have to introduce them to the idea that the judges for a professional test should never have taught the students taking the test. You don't know the person who grades your SAT, do you?

On Friday it was a holiday to celebrate some famous battle in Quito, so I didn't have class again. I'm really running out of days to finish all of my units. I hope I'll be able to finish.

Cheryl, my friend from San Miguel, came to visit me Friday-Sunday. We did some touristy walking around Ambato and found really neat stores for jewelry and such. We also made some delicious dinners and baked chocolate chip cookies. But Ecua ovens don't have temperature scales so they burned. I still think they were good though.

On Sunday I went with Cheryl to get her hair dyed because she wanted to get it red. I had been thinking about getting my hair cut lately because it was starting to fall weirdly. So as I'm in the salon I start to feel comfortable with the place and the staff and it looks professional enough. I even find a picture of exactly what I want. I give it to the stylist and she starts cutting. I noticed that she was cutting my hair diagonally from back to front and I thought it's weird but I wasn't sure what she was doing. Then it became apparent she was not giving me the cut I wanted. When I stopped her and asked her why the back was shorter she said she thought I would look good with a longer front that comes to a point and then a really short back. I looked at her like she was nuts and said, but that's not the picture. She said she thought this would look better. Wow. That is all I have to say. So at that point I just asked her to cut it all as evenly as possible and I left. I only paid $10 and the hair is fixable so it wasn't horribly traumatic. But it is a pretty bad haircut. I can make it look fine if I straighten it but it almost looks like she cut it with dull scissors and a machete. It is longer on one side and still shorter in the back. I guess I learned my lesson about Ecua-hair cuts...

Next week I have an end of service conference in Quito which should be fun and bittersweet. It's the last time I'll see a lot of these people. But it also means less time I have to get through all of my units because I leave in 6 weeks. I have no idea how I'll finish it all. But I have to so the students will just have to study much harder because we will be moving very quickly.

On a side note, my friend showed me this website called Lan South America Pass where you buy one way flights in South America for really cheap prices. I'm thinking about taking next February to travel around South America since I'll have a pretty long break. And I'll be making more money next year so I should be able to afford the trip. I'll keep you posted as I make plans!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Long time no post...

Sorry blog readers, I have been slacking on my posting. But in this case no news is good news. Everything is good here.

Last week my students in both classes threw parties for me. They were so cute! My first class took me out to eat at a restaurant in Ambato. I felt weird signing into the system and then leaving campus when it's not allowed, but it was worth it. Then I came back to campus and my other students had thrown me a surprise party. They got a huuuuge cake and as is traditional here, they shoved my face in it. I ended up showing them classic party games from the States like chubby bunny and pin the tail on the donkey. It was a lot of fun.

Then that night I rushed to Quito to pick my dad up from the airport. It was great to see him! We went to Cuenca the next morning and walked around looking at churches and parks and the river. We also went to a cool museum with shrunken heads and awesome representations of all the indigenous cultures in Ecuador. Then there was some Incan ruins out back that were fun to walk around. That night we went up to a viewpoint to watch the sunset, but there was no sunset because of the clouds.

The next day we took a tour to Ingapirca, Incan and Canari ruins about 2 hours from Cuenca. It was an awesome trip. The guide was truly bilingual and did a great job. We got to hear about how they built the area and why they built it. We also took a short hike down to see a face carved in a mountain. My dad said it was a bit like Mount Rushmore, but I disagree. I also got to explain to my dad that the ecua-tradition is to not ask permission, this way no one can tell you no. And it came in handy when we ran off from our group so I could get a picture with a llama. After that we had a nice lunch at a posada (guest house) and traveled to a church that was built in a mountain. It was up an intense amount of steps.

Then that night we flew back to Quito and had a delicious dinner. The next day in Quito we explored the old town, the Panecillo (statue on a hill) and a market. We also got lunch with two of my friends. We were supposed to take a taxi service to Ambato but the taxi service forgot about us. Awesome. So instead we took a bus and I'm not sure my dad appreciated the ecua-bus experience of bad movies, loud noises, and annoying people. When we finally got to Ambato we had a nice dinner and I got a free birthday dessert.

The next day we headed to Banos and Puyo. In Puyo we went to a monkey reservation and hung out with a bunch of monkeys. It was so cool! They just came up to you and jumped on you and ran around and swung from things. But the experience was dampened because my dad lost his camera when one of the monkeys stole it and smashed it against a tree.

Next we took a bus back towards Banos and stopped off at a waterfall with a tarabita. Surprisingly my dad was not scared at all. We walked around the waterfall and then took the tarabita back up. Since no buses wanted to stop and pick us up on the side of the road we were thankful a nice woman picked us up.

After that we came back to Banos and rested while drinking some locally brewed beer at our awesome hotel. We also had dinner at this great French/Mediterranean fusion place. It even had an awesome $20 bottle of wine. So much better than the sweet boxed crap they sell all over the place here.

The next day we walked around Banos and came back to Ambato to have lunch with my roommate. Then my dad went back to Quito and I went to go teach my classes. It was way too fast of a turn-around. I was still on vacation mode and trying to teach. Not cool.

On Tuesday I was supposed to give a test to a group of "expert" students from the university. However, someone in the testing department switched the tests and so we couldn't give it. This caused a lot of people a lot of frustration and so they moved the test to Thursday. But that meant I had to cancel my class again for Thursday even though my class was scheduled to take their exam then. So now I have to give part of my exams Monday (because most of them have a field trip with school Friday) and have to grade everything in one night. Oh the joys of being a teacher.

There is also one teacher that I really can't stand here at UTA. He is about 80 years old and so unprofessional. If someone asks him to do something he just flat out says no. And he never follows the rules and always thinks he knows best. I take offense to this because I know what it takes to be a team player in an education setting. Yes, you might think you know what is best for the students but sometimes you have to follow other peoples' rules to keep your job. So today he came in to help give the "expert" exam and he told the students they had 2 hours before the listening. After an hour and 15 minutes he told the students they had 15 minutes left and then they would start the listening. I tried to point out that he told the students they had 2 hours and now he is taking 30 minutes away from them and he kept saying "no it's 2 hours for the whole test." Well, I believe you that it's 2 hours for the whole test but you told them they had 2 hours before the listening. Argh, he just didn't listen. So most of the students didn't finish and it was just so unfair to them. But there wasn't anything I could do.

I also had a meeting with my boss today about doing some extra work for more money. She is going to give me $280 more a month to work 1.5 hours a day in the mornings trying to set up a professor exchange program. She wants to send 2-3 teachers to the states to teach Spanish and bring 2-3 teachers here to teach English. This way everyone would get a chance to experience a new culture and learn more language. I think it sounds like a great program and if any of you know a university that would like this, please let me know.

I'm also going to ask her if I can help with the testing next semester because it is just ridiculous. There are no rules here and it's driving me insane. When I walked into the "expert" test there should have been a set of guidelines for the test and they gave me nothing. They also have no rules on cheating and leave it up to the professors. They need rules. I caught a student texting during her exam and so I took it and called that cheating and the university doesn't necessarily want to back me up on that. So annoying.

This weekend I have to make-up the class time that I missed last week for my birthday, so I'm going to be sitting in a classroom for 6 hours grading exams. I'm not going to ask my students to come because I told them they could take a field trip and we planned it and last week the university told me we couldn't do that. So to me, they made up their time and I'll just have to sit there and make-up the time according to the university guidelines. Boring, but I can use the time to grade.

Nothing exciting is coming up. So hopefully no news will mean good news again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New apartment

Last Saturday I moved into my new apartment. I really like it! Moving day was hectic though. My roommate and I met at the university at 9am and picked up our truck and driver and headed over to my old house. Getting my things into the truck was easy because there weren't any stairs involved. It was just a hassle because my host mom wasn't there so I had to go back a few days later to give her the last of the rent money. Then we went to my roommates old apartment. She lived up 4 flights of stairs and had a TON of stuff. That was fun. Next, we headed to our new place and started to bring everything up the new 4 flights of stairs. That was even more fun.

Finally all of our stuff was at the top of the stairs and on our little landing. The only problem was we couldn't get in because we didn't have keys. Turns out the woman from the university who had the keys forgot she had to take an exam that day and didn't end up giving us the keys until 6pm. So did we sit outside and wait with all of our stuff? Of course not. We found a window to climb through and open the door :). Then we had the enormous task of cleaning the place because it was pretty gross. We bought a ton of bleach, mops, brooms, sponges, and other necessities and got to work. Cleaning took about 3 hours but we had some great help from friends. After that we just decided to have everyone stay over and bought a few packs of beer and relaxed.

I really like my new apartment. I have a nice sized bedroom with a desk and vanity. However, there is no dresser so all of my clothes are piled on the desk. It's not ideal but hopefully the university will buy me a dresser sometime soon. The only problem is I don't have too much room for it. All I need is like a bar and a set of hanging shelves and it will be perfect. But no one thinks that sensibly in Ecuador.

My classes have been going pretty well. I finished the units I need to for the exam in my level 3 and in my level 8 we did writing workshops. Now we have a few days of review and then I'm off on vacation. The Monday my vacation ends is when exams start (I think...). They keep wanting to change the date. I wish they'd just give us a firm calendar.

Other than that I've just been settling into my new apartment. I enjoy cooking for myself and haven't eaten rice in about a week. It's crazy. I also live right next to a market that sells fresh fruits and veggies so I go there a lot.

This week should be fun! My dad comes in on Wednesday and we're going to Cuenca, Quito, Banos, and Ambato. I hope he likes Ecuador! And my birthday is Sunday!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moving.... again

My sister asked me the other day if I was having a really crappy experience here because this is now the second time in a year that I'm going to be moving. Surprisingly, I'm not the one who has had it the worst in this country. There have been several others with problems and I'd say almost everyone has had to deal with at least something. But, again surprisingly, we all handle it really well. We understand we're in a country that is new to us and we can't always choose how things turn out. So here is my story:

When I moved in with my host mom she told me that she had a son in London and she might go visit him this year with her daughter. I thought that was pretty cool since I lived in London for 4 months a few years ago. She then booked her ticket for the middle of July. When she told me when she was leaving I told her I wouldn't be done at my school until after that date and she said it was no problem because her daughter would still be here because she wasn't going to join them until August. I asked her several times to make sure it was okay and every time she said yes.

Then, this Tuesday at lunch, she sat down and said that starting in June I had to find a new place to live. I was pretty shocked and didn't understand. She told me that her daughter was going to move into the apartment after they got back from London and she had to get it ready. She kept saying it was no big deal and that I should just move in with a friend or a boyfriend like all her other volunteers did. I told her that wasn't an option for me and reminded her that she had signed a contract. Eventually she decided to say that I could stay until July 10th. I absolutely had to be out by then because her daughter was now leaving for London with her and she didn't trust me with the house. So that still left me 8 days with no place to live before heading back. And those would also be 8 intense days of exams and grading. So I was not very happy.

I called my director (Kate) and she tried to talk to my host mom. She asked her if I could just stay in my apartment and not enter the house for those 8 days and then leave the keys with a family member. My host mom said absolutely not and then started being rude to Kate. (Older Ecuadorian women don't like when things don't go their way. They are VERY passive aggressive and mean when people don't follow their orders). So when she called me back she told me that she thought I should move out right away because my host mom was going a little crazy. She also said that moving out is moving out and it doesn't matter if I do it now or with 8 days left. And since I'm staying another year it wouldn't be a bad idea to get an apartment that I could stay in next year too.

I talked to my director (Sara) at UTA and asked her about apartments because she had been saying she wanted to give the foreign teachers apartments next year. And luckily enough, one was actually available now because a teacher had left. So I went to go check it out and it was really nice. Another girl, Lucy, a British teacher, went with me. She currently lives in a really crappy apartment so we decided to move into the new place together.

I told my host mom this and it was like she didn't even care. She also stopped talking to me and looking at me. I guess people really do have their crazy moments. Because I'm still not exactly sure what I did wrong. We were getting along just fine before Tuesday.

So I am moving out today. I am going to live on the 4th floor in a tiny apartment with a nice girl. We should have internet starting next week so hopefully I can keep blogging.

Other than that, my kids still don't study for their tests. And teaching inferencing to ESL students is really hard! But it's part of the TOEFL test so they have to learn it.

Hopefully next week is less crazy...