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Schools over

I finished my last teaching practice today, and finally I don't have anything to turn in or work on. Even though I still have to throw together a resume and find a job, that won't be hard. I also still have classes until Friday, but all my assignments and lesson planning are over. 


I'm now confident that I won't have any trouble teaching when I leave Mexico. The knowledge that they throw at us and the pace at which we learn has prepared us for whatever might be out there. Lesson planning will always be a bitch because it takes me a while to do it, but other than that I just want to find a decent job.


The beginning of this last week was kind of crazy because we had all these assignments due and there was a problem with one of my classmates. Monday morning she came in crying, and I listened to my her story about how she got kicked out of the house she was staying at. To me, that's funny by itself, but the owner of the house and her roommate was a woman that worked at our school. 


When my friend first arrived to Mexico City, she didn't have a place to live so the school set her up with this woman, at a price that was about $700 per month (most places are $400-500) if I remember correctly, and she didn't have internet. Screwed on all counts. 


I guess it was an ongoing problem that came to a head, or a boot. Short story: 
There was a guy that lived there, female jealousy ensued, and this silly American girl got booted out. 
A few minutes into this story she was she said, "There's nothing worse than a jealous female." And on cue the crazy lady came into our student prep room, and they started going at it. I was content to just sit there, laugh, and get some popcorn, but after about a minute, they tried dragging me into it. I just laughed and left the room. No fucking way was I jumping into that snake pit, but I did mention to the director of housing that there was a small problem in the other room. She could deal with that bs, and I could get my study room back. 


There was a bit more of yelling and screaming but class still started on time, this chick got a new place to live, and she was cool. 


Hopefully I'll be able to explore Mexico and actually do some interesting things now that this course is ending. 

School Week 2 and Banking

This week had some good classes and had some bad classes. Because we are teacher trainees, these Classes are free for the students. One gave my group some sweets as we were leaving class Friday. She's probably the least developed learner but a really nice person. 


Students are cool, and they want to be there. They joke about tequila and partying sometimes. They know that they don't know much English, so they're not concerned with getting everything right. Today's lesson ended on depressingly funny note when one of the other teachers showed me a sentence that a student had written: 


This Week: Learned Some Things. Went to a Tinga.

Venezula is more dangerous than Iraq right now. Both countries are about same size and same population, but Venezula had 16,000 murders last year, Iraq only 4500. Also, since 2007 there have been 43,800 murders in Venezuela, only 28,000 in Mexico during the same time. Homocide rate in the capital is 200 per 100,000; in the Colombian capital its 23 per 100,000. Oh and 90% of Ven. murders go unsolved. 


The fastest growing segment of the US public school population is English language learners, kids who don’t have a firm grasp of the English language. Theres about 5 million kids, born in US, who dont know much English. The numbers have almost doubled in public schools since the mid ‘90s. These students sit side by side with English-speaking classmates, but their test scores lag far behind. Bilingual teaching is a good option but currently illegal. Public schools can only teach in English. 


Spanish language academics from Spain admit that Colombia is the best country for pure Spanish, better than Spain and Mexico.


A Tinga:


I went to a Tinga (spelling likely wrong) the other day to buy groceries. It's a one day street market vendors set up and bring fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and tons of other stuff. There was also a section where they cook traditional dishes with all this great food. I was starving walking around all of this, so I ate some fried bananas with cream and syrup. It was sugary and savory, but I could only get down half. 


The cooked food section was packed with people shoulder to shoulder and grills right next to where you eat. Sanitation was probably really poor, but I ended up eating an unknown cheese filled taco. It was good and really spicy. There were many vendors yelling at you to buy their tacos, quesadillas, stuffed peppers, or cheesy whatevers stuffed meats, vegetables and salsa. I loved it, and after I was full, I got groceries:


Carrots $0.30/lb
Pomegranate $2.25/lb
Banana $1.00/lb
Apples $1.25/lb
Amarath/honey/nut mix $1/lb
watermelon $2/lb
Pineapple $2/lb
Bread $0.75/loaf
Avocado $1.25/lb
yogurt tub    $1.50



Class

The school has its own security guard, tech guys, accountants, and everything else a nice school in the U.S. would have.


There are five other students: three Brits and two Americans. The oldest is 41, and I'm the youngest. But there is a girl named named Taz that's probably 21-22. Everybody is new to Mexico City except Geraldine an English girl who's been here for three years. Everybody's real nice so far.


Our two tutors are Roger and Orlando. They're both nice, easy going teachers. Orlando has a bit more of a personality, I'll explain later.


The classes are very easy going, but there's just so much information to take. We have language assignments, exercises, and lesson plans to prepare for our classes as well as evaluations to complete about how we did and how our classmates did in the teaching practice the day before. At first, it was easy working about 8-10 hours a day with a few breaks in between, but now, it's looking like 12+ hours with a few very short breaks in between for the rest of the course. I usually leave for school at 10am and get back at 7-9pm.


Today, there was a promo at the Meinekie car place across the street. For about five hours in the middle of the day, they blasted music and had two really good looking girls in tight race suits dancing and yelling stuff into a mic. I guess discounts and promos here are always accompanied by gogo dancers and shitty techno music. It lasted from 10am-3pm. 


It sucks walking back at night because I live in a really nice area with bars and restaurants, so I have to walk by all these people partying while knowing I'm going be doing work for the rest of the night. At least there's five other people in the same situation, and this course is almost 1/4 done. 


According to our tutor, the five students, which we teach them for our practice, are the most basic students he has ever seen at the school. So we have to dumb down our language to the most basic language (hello) commands (repeat) and use a lot of body language. Confused looks and awkward silences are common. 


Semi-funny story: 
In class, I was trying to lie (Call my Bluff game) about my favorite food. The lie was squid, and I was drawing it to show them. Well, my drawing so was bad that one of the better girls in our student group said "A woman! Your favorite food is a woman.... Its true. No?" I couldn't stop laughing.


I'll write about other things I did this week later...

Food

Just around the corner from Hostel Casa Vieja, there's a subway station, a high traffic area. So  there's a ton of food stands, random restaurants, and holes in the wall everywhere. There's also people selling small trinkets and cheap things of all sorts. Walking down the street is a bit of an overload for the senses. The first few times its mesmerizing seeing all kinds of meats, salsas, spices, colors and hearing the sizzling of street-side grills and the crackling of empanadas being fried right next to you.


From freshly squeezed juices to baked pastries to tacos (real Mexican, not what we have in the US) with all kinds of questionable meats. Each time I walk by, I want to eat everything I see. The variety is vast. Pastries to tacos to soups to fruits to whatever. And its really cheap. $2 - $2.50 for a meal. Goldmine. 


Obviously, everything smells awesome. Although I once walked by the wrong stall, and it smelled like a day old dump. They have some sewage problems here. Probably because the city is so big. If you walk down the wrong part of a street and get a good whiff of it, you might want to throw up. Speaking of sanitation, nobody uses gloves, flies are a problem, and I'm sure the food sits out there all day, but I haven't gotten too sick so far. I can't say the same about Taco Bell back home. 


I haven't had a bad meal yet. Even when I wasn't looking for anything good. I stopped at a restaurant to take a piss and got a couple of empanandas while I was there. The cheesy spinach and corn emps were so delicious. It was surprising that there was only 1 couple at the restaurant.


At one taco stand there was some salsa that was pretty hot so I asked him what kind of salsa it was "salsa" he said, "o salsa roja" hoping that would satisfy my curiosity. It's funny that the salsa that was making me sweat was just "salsa" to him. 


Tacos here are much different than what we know from Taco Bell. And thank God that they taste a lot better too. They're all soft, served warm, with a handful of chopped meat and a few splashes of salsa and eaten with the condiments are available. You could make a meal out the condiments: cheese, avocado sauce, salsa, and other stuff I can't remember. 


I discovered tortas in a local supermarket. Not knowing what it was, I just ordered a hawaiian (hawayana) one. I pretty sure the cook didn't get my order right, but it was so excellent that I didn't care. Turns out that tortas are like sandwich melts with ham, chicken, some white cheese, peppers, avocado, and some other salsa. It was a huge sandwich, about $2.50 and delicious. 


So far, the only bad meal ive really had here was soup that had too much salt, oh and the hostel breakfast sucked. 

since arriving:

since arriving:


because the accomodation provided by the school is really expensive, I thought id look around before I settled on an apartment, so i figured id stay in a hostel for a bit


hostel casa vieja is a small family run place so the ppl that work here are really cool, super nice, help you out with whatever you ask, and speak english if ur spanish sucks. Theres only 16 beds. it costs around 150 pesos per night which is like $11.5-13.5 depending on the exchange rate. im roomin with a korean guy learning spanish and 2 french dudes traveling through mexico.


i was pleasantly surprised by how good my spanish is. i prob still sound like a retard, but i am able to get around and can easily order whatever i want at street stalls.


met some girls from germany who are getting paid to travel by some pharma study for travel diarrea. all they have to do is get a vaccination (may be a placebo) then travel to wherever for 3 weeks. its an international study w/clinics in various countries that they have to check in at to get more money or run test. one hilarious/disgusting thing they have to do at times is bag their own shit and turn it in to these clinics for tests. i couldnt stop laughing 


Saw some apartments. I was late to a meeting with one person, so I caught her on her way out and we just went to eat at some thai place. Turns out she's an english teacher who works for execs. She manages a team of teachers that go to different exec companies teaching english before or after the company's work day. her apartment is expensive but she's been a teacher here for 14 years and learning from her would be invaluable. 


I try to believe that the majority of people in any given country are okay and its a small % of dickheads that can give a place a bad name. So far mexicanos are making that easy to believe in. Asking for directions is easy as ppl are more than willing to help you out. 2 ppl helped me get a taxi at the airport. A few days later when I was walking around lost, I stopped at a place that wasnt busy to ask directions and they ended up printing me a map from google. I remember someone saying that most ppl would let their grandma fall down the stairs to go help someone that was lost. I think that's prob true, but I wouldnt do it to my grandma. 

wat up!

Im gonna be traveling for a bit so I thought Id try this blog thing out. If i had the time to learn the ins and outs of code and other tech bs, this blog would prob be a lot cooler, but for now its whatever.

I set this up mostly for family, friends, and whoever else has an interest in what im doin. so they can see what im up to whenever they want instead of emailing/calling and waiting til I can get back to them. While this is some sort of sub. for calls/emails, i still enjoy randomly receiving them. comment however u like, hopefully i'll be able to read them.

NOTE: I didnt want to put in the time to edit this blog b/c i figure those reading will forgive my many typos and poor use of grammar. please bear with me