Thursday, 11 September 2014

¿Dónde está la biblioteca?

The season of freshly-ironed shirts, oversized jumpers and those oh-so-cute photos on the doorstep are upon us - it's back to school time! And I am no exception. Having spent my first month here doing what could kindly be described as hanging around, my classes have finally begun and I am finally a bona fide English teacher! Well, that's what I like to think, anyway...

One of the teaching blocks at Uni Atlántico

Aside from the pleasure of having a fixed schedule - 3.5 day weekend, get in! - it's great just to be on campus a little more. I very much enjoyed being able to ask the hallowed question: '¿Dónde está la biblioteca?' for a legitimate reason, and it's wonderful to bump into friends and acquaintances whilst wandering beneath the palmy fronds of the University walkways. The lessons are also good fun, something which took me rather by surprise - turns out me being in charge of twenty-odd people every day can lead to positive results - who knew? I'm taking full advantage of being at an educational facility and going to extra classes... Portuguese and Dance (Level 0 for foreigners!), as well as the inevitable lesson in Barranquillera culture - an area in which I still have a lot to learn.

Team Colombia! (Photo: Lilian Souza)
At least someone was happy... (Photo: Lilian Souza)
However, I am slowly being inaugurated into the city's caribbean rhythm. On Saturday, I managed to have my first argument with a taxi driver! Bargaining is a way of life here, and it's a must, especially for a 'gringa' lookalike such as myself - but apparently me refusing to pay extra for him to drop me a few metres round the corner was a step too far, and resulted in him speeding off angrily the second I got out (I've been assured he was laughing inside...). On a more pleasant note, I also had the privilege of experiencing my first Colombian football match in the country! 'Fiebre amarillo' (yellow fever) engulfed the streets as people donned their national shirts and headed to the nearest bar to check out the action - thankfully, this strain isn't lethal! Unfortunately, it did prove mildly debilitating, as Brazil managed to squeeze in a goal in the second half, leaving everyone a little downbeat (except for one very happy Brazilian) - although that didn't stop us going out dancing afterwards! I'm even starting to be able to tell the musical genres apart, which is certainly progress.

Altogether, it's been an education. Living abroad is always an experience rich in learning opportunities, and I'm enjoying being able to give some of that back in the form of teaching - a true cultural exchange. Come back next week for the next instalment of Colombia 101!

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