Monday, August 27, 2012

StuffDominicansLike - Update Aug. 26, 2012

I haven't worked on this as much as I would like, but hopefully this year will be better.  Here goes a few more!

6. Colmados: These should be everywhere and indeed, in many places they are, whether it's a продукты in Russia, a minimart in the US or a bodega in Colombia, they are everywhere. What are not, however, is equal.  I can't vouch for many countries (i.e. Russia & the US), but here not only do colmados have whatever you need, but they'll deliver it to....for no extra cost! Pouring, pouring rain and you need a single egg? Call 'em up and it'll cost you no more than say 25 cents for the whole transaction.  Too hot outside and you need some juice and rum? Call 'em up and they'll be there! These are a modern marvel if you ask me.

7.  Excessively Loud Music: From colmados to public cars to political rallies to clubs, music louder than you could imagine is everywhere. It's awesomely frustrating and frustratingly awesome at the same time.  There are moments when you're out on a Saturday night and the music is just what you need. But then there's the times when you want to talk to people, whether it's Saturday night or a Thursday evening stroll and the bachata from the colmado is so loud you get dizzy.

8.  Cat Calling: This is one of those things that, to many Americans anyways (especially people from the West coast where it seemingly only ever happens in movies) that is not as cool as it sounds.  The men who cat call here are disgusting, seldom funny and sometimes just mean.  Whether it's talking about a woman's legs or chest size, asking about her boyfriend or (in a case that really upset Ana and I both extremely) yelling about having found your visa.  This is one of those things we could do without.  

Tropical Storm Isaac!

This weekend Tropical Storm Isaac went by the Dominican Republic.  It was my first one. I've had my proverbial tropical storm/hurricane cherry popped.  Is that too much? Oh well.  We were lucky as of this time.  The storm skirted south of us and instead passed over Haiti.  All we had here were some above average winds, pouring rain from Friday through sunday and a lot of power outages and hours spent without running water.

In reality, aside from the rain, it was no different than living in that dorm over in Russia, where power outages were a weekly (sometimes even daily) norm and no running water was practically a way of life (my last week there the city turned off all running water to the ENTIRE city for 3 days....that was a blast!).

Sadly I don't have any pictures to show you, but on the positive side you're not missing much.  The biggest disruption this storm has caused me was by having students dismissed early on Thursday and no school on Friday.  That's caused me some disruptions in my lesson planning, but there's nothing I can do or could have done about it as the call was made by the Ministry of Education here.

It's been an interesting weekend and it's interesting to see how these storms function as it is currently up by Florida, but we are still feeling the repercussions here int he DR.  Anyways, Dear Readers, we were lucky, but unfortunately hurricane season is not over and August and September are some of the high months, so as the sailors of old once said, we shall keep a weathered eye on the horizon.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

StuffRussiansLike - Update Aug. 19, 2012

I haven't been in Russia for over a year now, nor posted about StuffRussiansLike, but I felt it was time for a little update.  Also, I need some help from those of you still in Russia; help to remember all the glorious, yet confusing things about Russia I can't remember.

69.  A Disgraceful Justice System: This isn't something Russians really like so much, but just something that happens, at least when it's political.  I'm quite sure the Tsars of old randomly judged people by whether they liked them or not. We all know it happened in the Soviet Union and it certainly happens today, especially if you in any way, shape or form are not supporting Putin (e.g. the Pussy Riot  Trial - hooliganism? C'mon).  It seems they operate by the adage: "If you're not with us, you're against us." How unfortunate.

70. Trains: Russians love trains! I, like Sheldon Cooper, also happen to love trains. They're fun, slightly less scary than planes and easier to move around in.  Russians have a love of going everywhere by plane (probably because it's much easier, cheaper and certainly more safe than flying, within Russia).  Whether you're on platzcart on a trip from Moscow to Sochi, a sleeping car on the Trans-Siberian, or using wifi on the new, extremely nice (and extremely expensive) high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, traveling by train in Russia is the way to go!

71.  Slippery Rocks: Have you ever been to Moscow in the wintertime? Have you ever tried navigating some of their metro systems as you come up from underground.  If you're smart, the answer is no because it's a death trap.  I fully believe the Soviet Union built them that way to get people to fall, thereby spilling any and all contraband they have on them (this is pure conjecture on my part).  These are, however, great people watching spots as Russians and non-Russians, drunks and non-drunks alike attempt to navigate their way through these inconspicuous snow grounds. Someone always falls.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A New School Year!

Okay, so I've meant to do a blog every Sunday, but managed to completely forget this past weekend, so here it is a bit late (and, as it turns out, slightly more appropriate).

I feel more nervous about teaching this year than I did last year. I feel there's more to lose. I have some semblance of what exactly a 4th grade classroom should look like, a stronger idea about how exactly to teach what needs to be taught and assess afterwards and an overall sense of being more organized.  I'm still new, but because it isn't my first year I'm more nervous.  I also have a new principal, which makes me nervous.  Not because she's a bad principal, but because I want to make sure I do my absolute best.  

I suppose you could say I have less illusions about what to expect.  Whether that's in terms of how a school runs (or doesn't as the case may be), how a class should be run (or not run as was my case last year) and how to turn oneself into an actual, real teacher, not some facade who appears in control and all-knowing, but is merely just barely getting by (but, then again, it WAS my first year teaching ever!).

Because of these things, I am more nervous and more stressed.  I want this year to be better than the previous and while I feel more prepared and ready, I also feel less so.  I think that's just because last year is still looming over my head.  Not that anyone said I'd done a bad job, but I knew I could have done so much more, been a better teacher and role model for my students.  

I suppose this all follows goes under the idea of: "the more you know, the more you care".  Worrying doesn't help much though and all I can do is work hard and be the best teacher I can be for my students this year (and the years to come).  Anyways Dear Readers, tune in SUNDAY (for reals this time!) for another post, though probably not about teaching!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Beginning Blog...and Toilets (I need your help)

Here I begin my second year of living in the Dominican Republic and I am going to do a much better job of blogging this year, but submitting AT LEAST one post every Sunday, save for the days I am off chilling on the beach and generally having a better time than most....just kidding.

I returned to the DR yesterday amid storms and storms and sweat-inducing weather.  It's been nice though and not as boiling hot as one would expect, but it's far from cold either.  It's weird having been away because it feels so nice coming back.  At the beginning of this last summer, I couldn't wait to get away and now I can't believe I wanted to leave (my wanting to leave wasn't based on this country, but other factors, or should I say places?).  

It's nice to come home and be greeted by family, whether that's here in the DR or in the US.  It's nice to feel at home again, the way I unfortunately no longer do in the states, at least for now.  

On another note, however, it's also very nice to see my friends Mike & Lauren getting settled into their new home in South Korea.  I wish them and their two boys the best in getting started there, however, having just come from Vietnam, I'm sure they'll do just fine!

It was also nice to see old friends back in the states.  Everyone who came to our little wedding reception at my mother's, all the people we were able to see in Seattle and Spokane, everyone down in Oregon and everyone at all the weddings to which we went.  I'm sorry if we didn't get a chance to see you this summer, our summers are just too short and we have too many wonderful friends.  I'm also sorry we didn't get to see you as much as we would have liked.  One of the pitfalls of living abroad is that you have friends all over the world and you don't get to see them as much or as often as you'd like, and for that I apologize.  

Anyways, I plan on doing one of these every Sunday related to everything from school to life in the DR to toilets.  Yes, you read that correctly...toilets.  In fact, I plan on devoting an entire whole new blog to toilets and I'm hoping you all will help me.  I've done a bit of research and noticed there are a few but not many, blogs dedicated to toilets, but mine however, will be slightly different.  

I've traveled around the world a little bit, and I'm a bit paranoid about the toilets I use (or don't use), so I'd like to dedicate a blog for travelers about the best places to go to the bathroom. The cleanest, safest, easy to access toilets to use or the disgusting, shit everywhere, I might get murdered kind of toilets.  Both of these can be found all over the world, so stay tuned and I'll be asking for your help since I've not traveled everywhere!!

See you all soon!