The end is nigh

Tengo pereza

Today is November 6th, 2016. It’s a peaceful, sunny and hot Sunday. As I’m relaxing in my bed refusing to move and thinking how I can get a smoothie delivered to my door without having to make too much effort, it suddenly hits me that I have 19 days left in Colombia. How has it gone by soooo fast?.. This is the longest I have lived in one place since university. 11 months is the LONGEST time I have spent staying put. That is insane.  It’s been one hell of a time though. I’ve experienced so many new and exciting things. I’ve witnessed some of the most spectacular nature I have ever seen. I have had highs and I have had lows, all part of the process I guess. It has been a great learning experience. But how exactly have I grown as an individual these past months?   Without further ado, here is a list of life lessons I have learnt during my near-year long time in Colombia.

  1. I’ve learnt that nobody here writes in cursive or knows how to read it, hence me writing on the board in class mostly results in questions like: “Profe, is that a c?” “No, a D” “It doesn’t look like a D” *sigh of defeat*
  2. That no matter how much I teach, I still don’t know how to explain the difference between “will” and “going to”.
  3. That Colombian people do not know how to handle criticism or confrontation.
  4. That I really should ask for recipes before I attempt to make Colombian dishes instead of just “winging it”.
  5. That pretty much nothing will ever start on time and that you will become accustomed to it.
  6. How to spot a real ass from a plastic surgery enhanced one. Try it, it’s a fun game to play with your mates.
  7. That it takes alot for me to lose my patience, but when I do, it doesn’t end well for anyone (mainly my students).
  8. No matter how many different farms I go to, I still don’t like the taste of coffee.
  9. Same goes for aguardiente. That stuff is disgusting period.
  10. That going to a salsa bar to dance is something that I really have to be in the mood for, but when I am, it’s a really fun night out.
  11. That I should never get a drastic haircut. No matter how many times you show that Selena Gomez cute looking wavy layered bob, you will not get that and will have to live with the consequences. At least until your hair grows out.
  12. ALWAYS wear sunscreen. Just.do.it.
  13. And mosquito repelent.
  14. That sometimes to get through the day all you need to buy is some really expensive imported chocolate that brings you home.
  15. That sometimes you will not want to speak/think in Spanish or socialize with people in general, and that’s fine.
  16. That drinking a beer at 10am is perfectly acceptable if you’re on a beach.
  17. That no matter how long you’ve been here and know how things work, you are still, and forever will be, a foreigner.
  18. Having said that, being a foreign girl definitely has it’s benefits. Sometimes.
  19. That I will eventually find cat calling on the street hilarious. But still creepy. Men, please take note.
  20. That Colombian soups are heaven.
  21. I’ve learnt that my students deal with problems way beyond their maturity level and that there is not much I can do to fix that apart from giving them a hug.
  22. That there will be days when you’ll feel like you’re failing at your job and life overall. Just nap it out.
  23. That your students will never stop proposing to you.
  24. That you will hear a word in Spanish that you do not know the meaning to,ask to explain it 5 times, still not understand and eventually just nod and laugh.
  25. Electricity/water/gas/Internet will occassionally go out and you’ll kind of just have to sit there waiting for it to come back because nobody will call a technician.
  26. That you should always bring a hoodie on an overnight bus, even if going to a hot city. They  turn to moving freezers after awhile.
  27. That you should travel alone unless it’s with really REALLY organized people who don’t waste time.
  28. That you should always ask for the name of the place you’re looking for, not just the vague “it’s pass the peluqueria to the left three blocks down” kind of direction. But you might end up having the best lunch you’ve ever had in your life, even if it’s not the right place. 
  29. That crime will happen directly in front of you and there’s, sadly, nothing you can do to change that.
  30. That the education system here is something that will forever baffle me.
  31. That saying goodbye to someone doesn’t get easier, whether you’ve known them for 6 months or 6 hours.
  32. That you will never know what kind of special event will disturb your class schedule.
  33. That people will say the only reason you’re able to travel and live a life like this is because you’re privileged and loaded with money, and that will hurt. Some people will also understand once you explain that’s not the case. Others will never get it, and you will realize some are set in their ways and you will just let it slide.
  34. And finally, I’ve learnt forgiveness. There have been days when I really had no desire to go to work and my students would drive me absolutely mad and I’d end up yelling at then. The next day they would still greet me with smiles. So when I would see that some of them just have their heads down looking sad and not doing any work, I’d sometimes just let them be at peace with their thoughts. We all have days like that.

Colombia, it’s been an amazing time.As much as I cannot wait to leave, as my time here in Colombia comes to an end, I’m starting to realize all the things I’ve gotten used to and will miss after I leave. Such as the killer arepa con pollo I would normally have for breakfast at my school. The tiny geckos and their weird noises. How literally any day can be turner into an excuse not to go to school. My students and their drama and such insignificant issues about love. The mountains with their mist and lush green colour. The cicadas. The various salesmen with their annoying announcements. The ice cream man who keeps ringing a tiny bell to get everyone’s attention. And I will especially miss every person who I’ve met during my time here and who has made it just a little more special and, sometimes, more bearable. I’m sad to leave, but I cannot be more excited for new horizons and adventures. Ecuador, I’m coming for you. Be prepared.

-Judrė

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