Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday I had a really good day at school. The kids are getting better and better as they figure out how to behave. One of my students did try to turn in the lyrics to a Pussycat Dolls song (“When I Grow Up”) for an essay about dream jobs and I had to explain to her, twice, why that wasn’t acceptable, but other than that things have been going really well at school. When I came home (we have to leave at three on Fridays because they fumigate the school) I tried to make myself a fruit smoothie with J.P’s blender (and when I say fruit smoothie I mean smashed up mango and rum) and it wouldn’t turn on. Any of you who know JP well know that his blender is his most prized possession. For those of you who do not know J.P. very well it should be obvious because he brought it with him to the Dominican Republic in his one suitcase. Anyway, there was some serious mourning to be done so we walked up to the grocery store to console him. He went to look at new blenders but he thought it was too soon. He set it outside on the balcony when we got home to see if the inside would dry out (the problem was that it got wet) and now it’s working! Mango and rum for all!
After we grocery shopped Sean and Sarah came over, and then Doug and Stacy and we went to the Zona Colonial for a drink. We found a different area there where I have never been and it overlooks the river and there are some restaurants and really old buildings. It was amazingly beautiful there. We went to this restaurant called “Angelo’s” and sat on the roof. We each only ordered one drink because it was ridiculously expensive but it was really nice up there. It was especially nice because all of the people I was with work at the school, but we didn’t talk about work. We sat and talked for a long time and then decided to plan on going to the beach on Saturday.
This morning I woke up early, had breakfast, and Stacy and Doug came over and Stacy, Doug, Bridgitte, and I went to this beach called Juan Dolio. It is about an hour outside of the city. We called a cab to take us to the bus station and he offered to take us all the way there, wait, and then bring us back for about $15 each, so we decided to do that instead of taking the bus. We got there and wandered down the beach for awhile, and then we sat down at some restaurant and tried to order food. They brought us menus and then asked for our membership numbers. We didn’t even know the name of where we were and obviously did not have a membership so we were politely told that we could stay at the table but could not be served food. Awkward. So we kept walking down the beach and then realized that there was no way out and Bridgitte was really thirsty. We walked back a little ways and then found a hotel that we could walk through to get to the road and the guy there offered to drive us to get water on the back of his motorcycle with Bridgitte and I for 50 pesos (divide by 35). We hopped on the back (sorry Mom) and went down to a place where we sat at a little bar and got waters and then beers (maybe a bit counterproductive). Stacy and Doug decided to walk instead of riding on the motorbikes, which was probably a smart idea but it took them awhile to catch up to us. We ate at this really nice restaurant and then laid in the sand and read while Doug played with some Haitian kids with boogie boards in the water. You guys should check out my photosite soon. I will put the pictures of the beach up there. If Las Terrenas was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen this was definitely in the top 4. It was so pretty, bright blue water, bright blue sky, white sand, palm trees, the whole bit. Come visit! Anyway, so far it has been a great weekend and best of all I have barely talked about work at all, which is a difficult feat when everyone you hang out with is a coworker. It’s been great. I think we’re all tired of talking about it. Love you guys!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
So tomorrow is the first day of school, and today I had a very busy day at work, but I think that at long last I am ready for the kids to start coming in tomorrow. I have been here almost a month now, and I have spent the whole time at school without kids getting ready, so even though I am nervous for tomorrow it should at least be more interesting with them around. They read a book over the summer called “No Talking” have any of you guys ever read it? It’s kind of cute, obviously a book written by a teacher. I just finished it today but it’s about this fifth grade class who has a contest boys versus girls of who can talk less. Good for the kids to read I think, it’s also about how disruptive talking is in school. I guess we are trying to trap them over the summer into behaving better in school, hopefully it worked. Anyway, starting tomorrow I have to pretend to be an adult again and be stricter than I feel like being, but so it goes. I’ll write tomorrow all about it and let you guys know how it went. Miss you all! Love you! Let’s schedule skype dates soon!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Okay, so today I went to school where I did a little bit of work, had a meeting about Love and Logic (a really popular teaching philosophy), did a little more work, came home, ate, went shopping to the walmarty store with Melissa and Alex, and read (Paulo Coehlo, Eleven Minutes, read it it’s good). It was a pretty uneventful day in which I did not do all the things I wanted to do, but overall it was pretty chill and good. I was hoping that JP and I would start those dance classes this week, but it looks like it will be next week because I haven’t mustered up the willpower to drag myself through the heat to sign up. By chance today he ran into some people at the pool who turned out to be the Junior Triathlon Team from Santo Domingo, so he is going to train with them, which is awesome, and ridiculously coincidental. I have been having a great time here so far, but honestly, I feel a little as though my life and routine is all contained in a very small pocket of places and people, and I need to branch out from that. I am going to try to use this weekend to do so. Here are my goals:
-Find a way to speak way more Spanish.
- Make some friends outside of my school and neighborhood
-Get out and about more.
And you, readers, are going to help me achieve my goals! In teaching, this is what we call an interactive activity. Actually it could be an information gap activity because you have ideas and you need to tell me them so that I can learn from your wise ways (get it? Like you’re filling in the gaps of my information?). Anyway, comment on my blog and let me know what your ideas are. Here is the assignment:
If you were a 23 year old girl living in Santo Domingo, what would you do to feel like you were not cooped up and you were using and improving your Spanish skills? How would you go about making friends in a new city?
Please double space responses. Readers will receive extra points for useful or amusing suggestions. Readers will also receive extra points for remembering that my family reads this blog (that means keep it appropriate). Standard English must be used in anything turned in in this class. This assignment is due by 8p.m. Eastern Standard Time Friday August 21st. (Too far with the teacher thing?)
Thanks for your help guys, the more ideas the better.
Today was the kids’ orientation day at school. Whew. The first class I had were a little wild, but the next two bunches were very quiet and well behaved. I found out that sixth graders are very small, and look very much like sixth graders, without yet having the awkward look of seventh and eighth graders. My plan didn’t go as it was supposed to, as per usual, but overall the day went pretty well, especially after the first period (read between the lines, the first one was a trainwreck). I forgot how tiring teaching is though. I only had the kids half the day and I was exhausted by the end. But as promised yesterday, I was not going to laze around the apartment all afternoon. I came home, had some coffee, ate lunch, and then went for a 2 hour walk with Melissa through the botanical gardens which are north of our apartment. It took some convincing for them to let us in, apparently we were supposed to pay but we didn’t bring any money, but we got in eventually after Melissa demonstrated, through a combination of Spanglish and hand gestures. that she did not, in fact, have a purse or any pockets. It was so beautiful in there. It felt like you were in the jungle but there was a magically paved road in it. I will definitely be going back there. After we came home and took showers (even a walk leaves you drenched in sweat here) we decided to go to an Indian restaurant that Bridget found out about in her old edition of Lonely Planet.
This is where the adventures of the day began.
We went took a taxi across town to the neighborhood where we thought the restaurant was, and in its place was an Indian looking vegetarian place. This sounded good enough so we went inside and were greeted by two walls of buffet tables. Vegetarian Indian Buffet sounded nice, except that all the buffet tables seemed to be empty. In one corner there were four little trays of unidentifiable foods, and that was all the restaurant had. We decided to try another Indian place from the guidebook. We hailed a cab and stood on the corner consulting the guidebook to find the directions to the restaurant (a sure-fire way to get overcharged) and then were taken there. Or at least, were taken to the place on the map. There was nothing even close to an Indian restaurant in a 4 block radius. In fact, there were really no restaurants at all except for a chicken place and a fancy French restaurant. We circled around a few times before decided to get Japanese at a place close to our house (which was delicious, by the way, I had the best Miso soup I have ever had). It is very interesting trying to figure out what sushi is in Spanish/Japanese. We got it basically right, even though Bridget’s food didn’t come for a long time and the “Chicken Wonton Soups” turned out to be a plate of wontons. Apparently it was just a clever name. Anyway, after that Japer and I walked home (at night you get less, but still considerably, sweaty) and here I am, blogging to you all. Miss you! Can’t wait to read the piles of emails you are all composing to send to me!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
I am in my apartment watching my very first tropical storm out the window. I just got home from school an hour ago, luckily. Alex said that if there is a full-blown hurricane we just stay in our apartment and feel sorry for people who live in less-sturdy buildings, so I hope that’s the case. It’s pretty cool though. It just looks like a really bad thunderstorm. Apparently they have days off school for hurricanes like we have for snowstorms in Michigan.
It was over in 5 minutes.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
So today at school the first three hours were spent in a conference about differentiated instuction (Holla MSU TE classes) and I was looing forward to it because I think that it is really interesting and something that I am always working to do better in my class. Differentiated Instruction is where you vary the curriculum for each student so that they can learn better However, I think Melissa summed up the conference best when she said, “I was having storytime in my head”. There were some really good ideas but it was very long.
Anyway, after that I worked for awhile, got more delicious fruit from Sergio. Sergio is a skilled fruit cutter, and he can cut fruit six ways from Sunday and he barely has to look at it. I watch closely to see if I can do it myself, but I think if it were on tv there would be a “Do Not Try This At Home” disclaimer flashing along the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, Sergio is not always there. Sometimes his inept assistant is the one doing the cutting. Let me tell you, this is a lot less impressive and often involves standing really far back. So today I didn’t stand back far enough. He was chopping up bananas clumsily at breakneck speed and a large gob of banana mush flew from his knife and landed between my toes. Amongst other failings, Sergio’s assistant also does not speak Spanish very well, and so did not understand my request for something to wipe it up with. Consequently, I had to walk all the way back to school and to the second floor bathroom with banana squishing between the toes of my right foot.
After that incident I got a coffee with Bridget, and came back to the apartment. There we dissected the lecture we were given today, and decided to go to a jazz concert in the Zona Colonial. For those of you who don’t feel like breaking down that brain teaser the Zona Colonial is the colonial zone of the city. We all got dressed up nicely and went down there (everyone dresses up for everything here) and had a cocktail and some food and listened to some Jazz. This was the first time I had been to the Zona Colonial, and I will be going there way more often. It is the only part of the city I have seen so far that has a neighborhood kind of feel. It is very quaint. I really want to go back during the day and check it out. It was a really good day with my roommates, and I was glad to get out of the apartment. I am liking them more and more all the time. They all say the most hilarious things. After the jazz place we tried to hail a cab unsuccessfully, and some guy told us he would get one for us if he could just set the avocados he was holding at our feet and we would watch them for him. We agreed, and he set them down and ran off. He came back a few minutes later bringing with him a cab willing to charge us double the normal price and scanning our feet for his fruit (vegetables?). We politely declined and called a cab. On the way home we ran over a manhole missing it’s cover and experienced quite a loud noise and large bump and the driver did not react at all. Overall, great day.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Today (Thursday) I had another orientation day at school. After school I came home and knocked on the door for 25 minutes while J.P. lounged around in the apartment, deaf, with my keys. Once he realized I was breaking a sweat pounding on the door he kindly let me in and we went to look at a room in an apartment for him in another part of town.
The room turned out to be part of an apartment complex and did not have a kitchen. It was basically a really dirty, dingy hotel room really far away from me. Also, when we got out of the cab the cab driver turned around and looked me in the eye and said, “Be careful in this part of town, okay?”. Surprisingly, we decided against taking the room.
Even though we did not find an apartment we did find a great grocery store, and bought a lot of delicious fruit. When we came home I chopped it and pureed it and consumed it. We had delicious juice and papaya and mango. I hadn’t used J.P’s blender before, but now that I have I may hide it in one of my drawers like that one pair of running shorts that he wore as casual wear two summers ago. (I just read that aloud to him and he said, “Jokes at other people’s expense aren’t funny.”) After consuming an enormous amount of produce we went out to a restaurant for one of the other teacher’s birthday. It was good to do something all together. This weekend a few of us are going to that beach town that I mentioned, and apparently Bridget has some connection where we can stay in some mountaintop guesthouse overlooking the sea. I literally cannot wait. Actually, I have to go so I can pack. Love you all!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Today was my first day at the Ashton School. Bridget, my roommate, and I went at 8 but we didn’t see any of the other teachers until nine. Bridget and I went up to my classroom and organized some of the furniture until the other teachers came. We went on a tour of the school, which is under construction but looks very nice. We ended up in the library where Bridget will be working as the librarian. They gave us some presentations about the school and Dominican culture.
Then after school J.P, Sarah and her husband Sean (the ones from the plane), a girl named Stacy and her fiancé Doug and I went to look for apartments with a realtor. We went in two shifts because we could not all fit in the car. J.P, Sarah, Sean and I went first and I translated between them and the realtor. Sarah and Sean liked the first place they saw so that was easy. They just got married and it is a really cute little apartment near the school. We went back to drop them off and pick up Stacy and Doug. We looked at three apartments with them and I think they decided to take a place farther away from the school but with an ocean view, which is really beautiful. We looked at an apartment for J.P. as well, and even though by our standards it wasn’t that bad, the realtor thought it was so bad that we left rather abruptly. She said on the way out, “How are they going to rent something in that condition?”. I think J.P. and I may need to reevaluate our standards of living. Anyway, we will be looking at some more apartments for him in the next few days. We went out to dinner at a delicious Lebanese restaurant and I met my other roommate, Alejandra, who is Spanish and seems super nice. Another girl, Melissa, is staying with us for a bit too. I am really happy to have started school because I feel like I have a few instafriends who I can hang out with now. Tomorrow I will get a cell phone to call you all. Love you all.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Japer and I are getting ready to get on our first plane to leave Detroit. We both had to take things out of our luggage because we were trying to take everything we owned with us. Unsurprisingly, I had to take out picture frames, shoes, and books, and Japer had to take out an extra wetsuit and running shoes. Very telling. We went out last night for our last night and ended up staying out until 4 a.m, so we are both trying to hold it together in the airport and not fall asleep on the people sitting next to us. We have another 11 hours ahead of us before we get there, but we are on our way.