Wowzers! So much has happened in a short period of time. It makes me dizzy to think about it all. I arrived two Sundays ago and dived right into Fulbright Colombia’s orientation week. We did a ton of sitting listening to different presentations about our work as ETAs and researchers and about Colombia’s contemporary history. Two of my favorite presentations were led by two amazing political science professors from the Javierana University here in Bogota. The Javierana is one of Colombia’s top universities and it’s super close to my university. In fact, I live and work in central Bogota, where there are lots of universities, University of the Andes being the most prestigious. My university is a public university and it serves plenty of students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford college.
Throughout orientation, I met a ton of people from all over the US, played tejo (a fun game which involves throwing a disk in hopes of setting off a small explosion in a rectangular box of mud), and went on a city tour of Bogota. We were even subject to a very strange set of activities led by a life coach who made us repeat things like “I’m a hero” and other weird things I can’t remember. His goal was to motivate us, but he definitely freaked me out!
One proud moment involved me speaking at the Ministry of Education. I was super lucky to get asked to speak at an event welcoming Fulbright US Students this year, and I talked about how I decided to come to Colombia, what my expectations are of my grant, and how I’m committed to peace and education in Colombia, which the national government is promoting in order to encourage peace and prosperity around the country. I got captured by a few “noticeros” and ended up on TV! I was super nervous, but the staff at the Ministry of Education were amazingly supportive and helped me rehearse a couple of times beforehand!! Afterwards, I also did a couple of interviews which you can find here:
As you can imagine, orientation week had me pooped, but I still had to meet people at my university, especially my tutor and other assistants placed in Bogota through the British Council on Friday. That morning I actually moved into an amazing room with a Colombian family. They are a couple close to my age, with a young daughter and a spaniel. How cute?! I have an amazing view of parts of the city and the mountains. Over the weekend, I got some sheets and what not. My host family (is that what they are?) gave me a few blankets after telling them how I was shivering all night on Friday. It gets crazy cold at night! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I now wear two sets of pajamas at night.
So now, I’m taking part of a small orientation at my university. Yesterday was Sunday, so I got to recuperate because we had it off. I got a small table from a nearby flea market, and today, we all successfully applied for our Cedula de Extranjeria, which is an ID foreigners on a visa are required to get within the first 15 days of arrival. It’ll be ready next week. I am so happy I got it out of the way and it’s all thanks to my wonderful tutor who waited for each and every one of us outside for hours.
Overall, things are coming together. I have a work schedule, I start my tutorias this week (hour long sessions that support EFL classrooms in different departments, such as administration and bacteriology) , and conversation clubs start in about two weeks. I plan on getting things started with my social project next week because I need to get settled in my university. Once I get started at my uni, I’ll feel ready to get my social project going. With the altitude and experiencing my new environment here in Bogota, I’ve felt quite exhausted and stuff, but it’s getting better. It takes time to adjust to the altitude (Bogota is 8660 ft above sea level) and after one more week, I’ll be ready to start pursuing my social project. I have a few contacts, so I’m not worried about it. Things will come together, I’m sure.