Last night was my first night to teach classes. I’d been given only the text book, in advance. I wasn’t given the attendance sheets or information about how many would be in my class and very little on how to proceed. One of the three secretaries speaks almost no English. Naturally, she was the only one working last night. It was pretty messy with long lines of students paying for classing, finding books, getting their grades from their previous class (which ended Friday) and only one person there to help them. It isn’t how I’d run the place, but it isn’t my school and I don’t have to worry about anything but my classes.
The good news is that the textbooks are easy to follow, each class is only an hour, and there is more than enough material to be covered. It’s not the worst curriculum I’ve seen, though it could be better. Also, Mexicans have a high tolerance for disorganization and imperfection. Keep a smile on your face, make an effort for your students and don’t sweat the small stuff–that’s my motto through this. My students were great–attentive, funny and hardworking.
I also started Spanish classes yesterday. There are only two of us and I am well below Orlando, the other student. He’s been here for a while and has learned a lot. He also took Spanish in high school. While my Latin will help, it’s not the same. And…ahem…high school was a LOT longer ago for me than for him. I’ll have to work very hard to keep up. Today I have to find the textbook, memorize the Spanish alphabet and work on some new vocabulary words.
Michael put me off again for getting a work visa. Maybe Wednesday.
Finding it a challenge to deal with all the people in this flat. It’s moderately clean (occasionally the kitchen isn’t) and very quiet, but there’s more than a dozen people living here and only one hot water heater and one kitchen. It’s a bad recipe. I went to the store this morning and bought lots of nuts, some fruit, whole grain crackers and a bottle of cheap wine. I also bought lunch meat, canned tuna, tortillas and ready-made stuff that is easy to assemble or microwave. I gotta find another place. I should have immediately taken the apartment I saw Thursday. It was so tiny and more expensive, but would have been better than this. It’s already rented to someone else. My mistake. And I’m paying for it in cold showers and lower nutrition.
My 2nd day of teaching English classes went better than my first. Great students with good attitudes. I think Mexico is a good place for me, but I’ll need to make some adjustments. My students, particularly the ones in my last class at 8pm, arrive late. So far, I’ve counted them “on time” as long as they are there within the first 10 minutes of class. I’ve discussed it with Amanda, and she suggested to drop that to 5 minutes. I admit, I’m a time Nazi, but I am relaxing this stance. The rest of the world is just looser with time. So far, my record for late arrival? 41 minutes for a 50 minute class?
Got my book for Spanish class and went through the first 3 sections. I’m behind, but my vocabulary increases daily. I practice my Spanish on my students and they usually understand and correct me when needed. At least they don’t laugh quite so hard at my pronunciation of the local language as the children in Vietnam did.
Still trying to find a better apartment, but I got a hot shower this morning–the 1st in 4 days! 15 people + 1 hot water heater. You do the math.
….and at 10am I got a text from the Director, canceling our appointment to go apply for a work visa. Again. Re-set, for tomorrow.
After rescheduling three times, Michael and I finally went to Immigration and applied for my work visa. He was late meeting me at the school (he didn’t offer to pick me up at home) and then made me wait while he did some work in his office. By the time we got to Immigration, the line was pretty long. Michael let me know that this is the one and only time he will go to Immigration with me. After this I’m on my own. There will be at least 2 more visits, so I better practice my Spanish. He said that he was “doing me a favor” by finding me an apartment and going with me the first time to Immigration. Nice to know where I stand.
I paid over $200US for the work visa and the process will take about 2 months. According to my contract, the school will reimburse me after one year, IF I am still working full-time with them. I already paid money in Madrid at the Spanish Embassy to get the initial work permit that would allow me into the country. That won’t be reimbursed. It doesn’t seem likely that at my current pay, I’ll ever get my initial moving expenses paid back. If you want to make money, this is not the place to come.