Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving Madness

Today was supposed to be my first day at work, but a late night email last night told me otherwise.  We now won't start until Wednesday.  This couldn't have come at a better time because Oscar and I are moving!  Unfortunately, there's not going to be a whole lot I can do to utilize the day.

You see, our new apartment is just that, new.  Brand new.  So new it's not done yet.  Yes the walls are up and the inside is painted, but there's still plenty left to be done.  For one, the windows aren't put in yet.  Not a huge deal since it's not the rainy season, but it means we can't start moving stuff in yet, because the likelihood of it being stolen is high.  The other big to-do is the kitchen.  The entire counter still needs to be done.  There is obviously a lot of work, and the landlady promised we could move in on Tuesday.  So we'll be moving in Tuesday, whether everything is ready or not.

And just writing this out now has made me think-- what are we going to do with the puppy?  If they're still working we can't leave her out.  Maybe we'll just have to keep her in the bedroom until the workers are done.

This apartment is unfurnished which means it comes with absolutely nothing.  We got a stove/oven from Oscar's aunt but we still need to get a fridge.  Though it's somewhat of a moot point since the kitchen won't even be done.  I have a feeling we'll be living off of take out food for a week, maybe two.

But even with all the stress of shit not being done and having to move anyways, I'm really excited about our new place.  It has a cute little patio for Perlita to run around and for us to sit outside and drink beer (yep).  It has a much better common area for having people over, the kitchen has more space, and the apartment has a lot more light.

So yeah, I might throw a whole bunch of things in bags today, but if they don't get the windows done we can't take anything over.  Here's to hoping.

Also, yesterday I saw some kids whose mom always takes care of Perlita when Oscar and I go on trips.  Turns out I have both of them in my class.  The older one told me that there's a whole bunch of trouble makers in his class and that they talk a lot.  I said "not with me they won't"  I'm planning on telling those private school kiddies that I used to work in a school of prisoners, which is a *mostly truth*.  It'll be a cold day in hell before they think they can run me! =)

Here's my silly pup.  I was playing with my camera and found out I could put borders on pictures!  How cool!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Freak out!

Yeah I'm sort of freaking out.  Today I went into my school to get the books that I will teach from.  While I was waiting for the principal, I saw her walk up with about 7 books in her hands.  "Well", I thought to myself, "those can't possibly all be for me!  She must be bringing some up to the office to save her a trip."  This is when I got handed my schedule.

7:30-8:15Science 4
8:15-8:55Science 4
9:15-9:55Science 4Science 3Biology 7Science 3Science 5
9:55-10:35Science 4Science 3Biology 7Science 3Science 5
10:45-11:25Biology 8Science 5Science 5Science 6
11:25-12:05Biology 8Physics 8Science 5Science 6
12:40-1:20Science 6Science 6Physics 7
1:20-2:00Science 6Science 6Physics 7
2:15-3:00Science 6Science 4Science 4

YIKES!!!  Well you can't see the whole chart, but let me tell you there are more colors where those came from.  I'll be teaching science to 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, plus physics and biology to 7th and 8th graders.  I have no idea where to even start.  I'm sitting here unable to do anything because how in the world am I going to be able to plan this week out?  I'm going to have to get hella organized.

Luckily, I have almost all day Monday free.  Which I have decided will have to be my planning day.  But even with a full day to plan I can't imagine teaching 7th grade bio, 5th science, 8th physics, 6th science and 4th science all in one day (my Wednesday).  

I have absolutely no clue how to teach 3rd graders.  I thought the smallest I would go would be 5th and even them I was worried about.  Now I'll have 8 year olds?  (8 year olds are in 3rd grade, right?  See!  I don't even know!)  How do you keep 8 year olds occupied for 90 minutes?

So I've already decided a few things.  One- I'm going to make two groups out of my eight.  Third, fourth and fifth graders will be in one group, and sixth, seventh and eighth in another.  I plan to use a more elementary approach with the first and younger group.  And for the older guys we'll be doing the style I'm already used to using- fill in the blank notes, foldables, charts, lots of vocab, lots of coloring and pictures, and labs.  Now I just need to figure out what the hell to do with the younger group.  The one thing I do know about them is I totally over planned during my "trail classes" I gave.  I see that as a good sign.

I need to find myself a method to keep everything in order.  I need to find a way to keep myself sane.  And I need to find a way to make sure work doesn't come home with me.  Lots of teachers do that.  I don't.

Let the planning begin!!


Monday, January 23, 2012

One last hoorah


Nah that's a lie, there will be plenty more hoorahs, but this was the last one before I start work next Monday.  I was under the impression that we start today, but I luckily got an email correcting me before I showed up today. This past weekend I spent in Miami Beach with some friends and my mom and her husband who also flew down.  We had a really fun time, even though the weather was much cooler than I expected it to be.

Thursday I arrived way too early and Jay graciously picked me up in Fort Lauderdale.  We went to the beach then came back home to crash before heading off to the art show in Palm Beach that night.  For me art is like fine wine, I don't "get" it, but I know what I like.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a whole bunch of pieces I really enjoyed at the show.

Jay and I at the Palm Beach Art Show

No guts no glory

Cool faces

Light sculpture

Petri dishes!!

The next day my mom and her husband flew in.  We spent the day at the beach admiring the beautiful bodies on display, then had a quick beer at the Palace Bar where the slogan was "Every queen needs a palace".  That night we piled into Tim's car and went to Tap Tap, a Haitian restaurant.  It was fabulous and delicious.  I was especially pleased with their mojitos!

Palace Bar

Going to Tap Tap!

Enjoying dinner!

Saturday came around and Jay took me all the way back to the airport, but not before searching me and my bags to make sure I hadn't absconded with his favorite green hat.  It was a great, quick trip back to the States!  A big thanks to Tim, Jay and Baby Boy for being fantastic hosts!!

Tim and Jay

Now onto the boring stuff-- I start work next Monday!  I can't believe it.  I guess 8 months of vacation should be enough, but I know I'll be looking forward to Semana Santa just days after starting.  I'm worried about working, but I know I'll figure things out.  Some things I'm concerned about are:

1. I've never worked with middle school kids before, though to be fair my high school kids acted like 12 year olds and read like 8 year olds.  So I think I should be okay.
2. I'm not entirely sure how many preps I will have.  A prep is a lesson, so in the USA most teachers have one prep a day, meaning they give the same lesson all day.  I know I'll have at least three, but if I have four?  I might go crazy.
3. I'm no good at pre-planning.  In the states I planned each lesson the day before.  Here I'll have to plan a full week the week before.  Guess that means I need to get organized.
4. This school has ZERO technology.  My old school didn't have much and I was cool with sharing lab equipment and buying lab supplies and such, but this place has nothing.  No glassware, no sinks, no chemicals, no goggles, not even a computer for me!
5. These kids will be much better behaved than my last population.  This scares me because I'm used to telling kids to get out of my classroom, how do you even handle good kids?

But!  I'm confident in my skills as a teacher, even though I'm still very new to the game.  At least I have some creativity and enthusiasm on my side.  I think that'll help me a lot.

Oscar and I are moving this weekend!!  We're getting out of our noisy apartment on a busy road and moving to a quieter area just one block away.  This new place will have a patio for Perlita, and hopefully will not have an annoying landlord that yells at 80s music during the day.  The new place is unfurnished, which means it has nothing.  So on top of tables, chairs and couches, we also have to buy a stove/oven and a fridge.  We want a gas stove, but we'll see what we can find.

I suppose I'll stop my rambling post here.  I want a quick nap anyways!  Until later my friends...!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You shut up. I'm excited.


In then end, I realized I do need to make a border run before January 22.  I was predicting a normal 9 hour bus ride to a hot Nicaragua, to sleep one night on a nasty hostel mattress, to turn around and take another 9 hour bus ride back to stinky San Jose.  But when good ole' Jay mentioned I should come visit him and Baby Boy in Miami, I decided truer words had not been spoken!

San Jose to Miami is 3-4 hours max in a plane.  Tickets can be found for as low as $100.  I didn't get mine for quite that low, but what the hell.  My mom is also going to fly down for a day to hang out!  What a freaking party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's been too long my friends

I don't know why I haven't been blogging in so long.  What happened to my 3xs a week??  It's not that things haven't been happening, or that I've been too busy (THAT would be a lie), I just haven't felt creative enough to fill out a whole blog.  But the time has come, and it won't be that exciting after all.

So of course, first of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Oscar got two whole days off of work, yes that's a big deal, and we made the best of our 4-day weekend and took a trip up to Guanacaste.  NYE is one of the most highly traveled times in Costa Rica, with the highest probably being Easter.  Oscar's boss somehow found us this tiny room with only 2 days notice.  It was nice of him to put in the effort, but the room wasn't much to celebrate.  A bathroom inside four walls and below a ceiling which was located behind a convenient store.  Oh well, it was cheap and everything we needed.

We roll in style, pintico sandwich for lunch.

We spent New Year's Eve partying up on the beach of Tamarindo with some of Oscar's friends who he of course found there.  (he knows someone everywhere, haven't I mentioned that before?)  I'd been to Tamarindo the first time I was hear, and somehow had this image of a nasty beach, with a gaudy town, that I never wanted to see again.  After visiting this time, I don't know how I left with that image.  Tamarindo is gorgeous, the beach is pristine, the bars are hoping, and yes- the town is gaudy but who cares?  You're there for the beach!  The next couple days we bounced around a few other beaches near by- Conchal, Brasilito, Potrero, Donta, and then left to go get the puppy.

Oscar with some friends he found

Partying on the beach!

Playa Tamarindo

Playa Conchal

Playa Brasilito

Playa Potrero

Playa Donta

So we got home and it was back to the daily grind, well for one of us.  I continued to bum around as I don't start work until the 23rd.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and yesterday went into San Jose to get my papers authenticated at the Casa Amarilla.

I have heard nothing but what an easy step this was.  I've been told it was quick and the people are friendly.  I decide to get there early, since I've heard you shouldn't ever get somewhere after 12:00pm.  But I guess 10am was not early enough.  After waiting outside, in an enormous line, in the sun, for two full hours, I was nearly at the door to go in.  With only 4 people ahead of me, the guard came out and told us that the office was closed and we would have to come back tomorrow.  (FYI people, even though the CA is open until 4pm, they only take documents from 8am-12pm.  What kind of madness is that?)  He gave us a little ticket and said with this ticket, we wouldn't have to wait in line again.  But I knew better than that.

This morning I walked the puppy quickly to the park, and headed off to San Jose by 7:30am.  I got to the Casa Amarilla by 8:30am, and the line was already stretching around the building.  Luckily, the line for the people with the tickets, was much shorter, some 8 people in front of me.  It still took another two full hours for me to get in and get my papers stamped and signed.

Since I was already out, about, and grumpy, I figured to go ahead and head over to the police station to get my fingerprints taken.  For this I needed my passport and one passport picture.  When I went to sign in to get in line, I was almost not allowed to have fingerprints taken because my visa expires in 11 days.  But since I am currently still in country legally, they let me.  I waited about an hour, and was finally seen by a grumpy (grumpier than me!) lady with a computer.  She took her sweet time typing in all my information, though it is partially my fault for having so many tattoos and scars to report.  Finally, I was able to wash the black ink off my hands, pointed towards a bus stop to San Jose, and headed back into centro.

I finally got home a little after 1pm (I did make a Pops pit-stop to reward myself on this effing hot day with a mint milkshake) which rounds to around six full hours of only getting two things done.  But they were two things that needed to be done, and now they are.  Thank goodness.  So now everything but two things are checked off on my residency checklist.  All I need now is that freaking letter from the school I asked for back in November, and to deposit $200 into immigration's bank account.  I'm also going to make front and back copies of every single document I have before I turn it in.  Maybe two.

The last thing I'm trying to figure out is whether or not I need to leave the country.  My visa expires in 11 days, that's the 22, I start working on the 23.  I have a feeling I'll get that letter from the school within the first few weeks.  Once I have my application turned in, I don't need to leave anymore.  But until then, I need to follow my 90 day visa.  I would love to avoid another border run, but I'm starting to feel like that's not possible.  We'll see!