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To Climb a Mountain... [Apr. 3rd, 2010|08:42 pm]
So after 8 months in Chile I finally found someone who shares my love of the outdoors and who invites me to join him on a trek in the Andes. Woohoo I say! But truthfully I had no idea what I was getting into. I only have just taken up backpaking/hiking these past few years but I thought rather nonchalantly "Wouldn't it be cool to get to the top of a mountain?!!" I mean most of us agree that it would but clearly I had no regard for how difficult it might be to get there. Well, I've backpacked about 14 miles in a weekend once, how bad could this 1.5 day trip REALLY be? HA HA HA the mountain laughs at me!

The trip we embarked on was to a summit in the Andes called Punta de Damas. At 3149m, it's certainly no cake walk to reach (at least that's what I hear). I only made it about 1000m - or so I'm told. You can imagine how disappointed I was to hear that after I had already been hiking, what felt like straight up, for the better part of 8 hours. The reason I didn't make it is not that exciting (hence why i've thus far left it out). But let the record state that my tendonitus in the inner part of my left ankle started acting up until I couldn't seem to go more than 4 or 5 steps without feeling a shooting pain.

Oh well I say. Dago, the one that had invited me, so generously offered to head back to where we had eaten lunch and camp with me there. We met up with the other 4 guys on their way down the following day. Needless to say the way back down was much easier than it was going up, although my knees probably wouldn't agree with that statement. They have already told me many times during snowboarding sessions that they don't appreciate being used as brakes. Too bad for them - I never listen!

I suppose I shouldn't be too disappointed with my "performance." As i've done next to nothing physical in several, I reapeat SEVERAL months. The most amazing part though is that I don't have a single blister to speak of. I would therefore like to take this time to acknowledge the wonderful hiking boots I recently purchased - they are a pair of Mammuts (Gore-Tex). I wore one pair of hiking socks with a liner (thanks Jillian!)

The night camping was soooooooo relaxing. Dago and I camped near a stream, made a little fire, cooked food and tea, enjoyed the view, took pictures, discussed life, relationships and our love of nature. All in all I had a great time despite my temporary injury. Don't get me wrong - there were certainly those moments when I asked myself "What the hell am I doing??!" but the others - the ones that brought a smile to my face without a single thought. The mountains and their grandeur...I may never know why something that makes me feel so small and insignificant, also brings me so much joy and relaxation. They just do..they are my "happy place" Nothing better...nothin.
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Summa Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime! [Feb. 19th, 2010|11:19 am]

Hello hello-

Wow...my last post was almost 2 months ago.  I am slacking quite a bit I suppose. Well - the cruise with mom and dad in January was a blast.  I posted several albums of pictures to facebook and consequentlly received many a jealous comment!

As far as updates go, I'm still working for both schools teaching English. i was recently able to start Spanish classes up again but just for February. I'm finishing up my grad school applications and am planning to come home for the last couple weeks in March (work permitting).

I also recently became an aunt to Bejamin James Quasarano.  I can't wait to see my nephew :)
I've also recently started back up the quest for regaining my health. My attempt to discover food allergies via an elimination diet ended abruptly when I had some type of reaction (hives) on day 7. But on a more "positive" note I have some suspicions of possible causes for my health decline over the past several years and am setting up some tests with my doctor while i'm home. Keep your fingers crossed - i know I will!

Well I suppose that's about it as many things are up in the air right now. I will definitely have news in a couple of months regarding grad school, test results and how long I will be staying in Chile. Stay tuned!

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Holidays and Transitions.. [Dec. 25th, 2009|03:10 pm]
Hello hello!

Since its December 25th and all I guess a Merry Christmas is in order. With sunny 85 degree weather and a complete lack of family presence (with the exception of a few skype dates and emails), I must admit that it feels nothing like Christmas here. However it is very much a transitional point in my life and therefore the new year that is coming up will be quite fitting.

After 5 months in my first "chilean home" I finally decided to venture out in effort to meet new people, be more centrally located for work and pay a little less for rent. So here I am! I've been warmly welcomed by my new roommates (a chilean couple, an english girl and a fellow american girl). I now live within walking distance of one of the schools I work for! :-)

After a few interviews and many contemplations on the job front, I've decided to continue teaching English full time (or as close as I can get with it being summer break here in Chile) for now and I look forward to working in outdoors education once the workload in this area picks up. And when it does...i'd like to still teach and take spanish classes (which would have to be on the weekends I think).

But first I will be heading to Buenos Aires, Argentina after new year's to meet my parents and take a 2-week cruise all the way back to Valparaiso, Chile. It will be nice to have some family around again even though I just saw everybody for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving seems like so long ago ...I think its because so much has transpired for me since then. I'm currently in the middle of writing my Personal Statement to apply to grad school (AGAIN) and hope to have it done, along with the sending in of all the other application materials, by the end of February, if not sooner!

Well its about time for me to head out...Happy Holidays to everyone :-)
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This one's for ME [Dec. 4th, 2009|02:30 pm]
So I just got back from vacation - as good as it was to see family and friends, it was a very strange cut in my time here in Chile. I lost many of my classes and although technically I still have both of my jobs I have been seriously reconsidering whether I WANT to continue with both of them.

It has recently become apparent to me that I'm not making as much money as I had planned AND am spending slightly more than I had planned. This along with the fight I had with one of my bosses before vacation has made me open my eyes to other job opportunities. But I find myself in a bind - having left a good paying job with friendly people in the US to work for peanuts in Chile really only makes sense if I'm enjoying my job and for better or for worse this fact is making it difficult for me to "settle" for anything less than truly satisfying work. But this is really the first time in my life that i've demanded this for myself. I think it is allowing me incredible personal growth but I do wonder if i'm being flat out unrealistic sometimes. I know that this is the only way I could possibly find truly satisfying and rewarding work, but it doesn't mean that I will NECESSARILY and how long must I make such an enormous financial sacrifice I ask myself...or how long can I even afford to!?!?

The fact of the matter is... I could suck it up (financially) and continue to seek out the ideal work experience but I don't have enough money to do that forever...I am starting to realize exactly why my parents raised me to be financially responsible (or what turned into ueber money consciousness that contributed greatly to IGNORING my passions for a "greater good"). I just don't want to look back on this experience and say well I tried to follow my dreams for a while until I ran out of money, nor do I want to say that I never gave it my all because I was too scared of going broke.

I know this all may sound overdramatic but I also know that so many people struggle with the same thing...to fight for what they want and deserve could end up being irresponsible.

I think I understand this argument more than ever even if I do sometimes look down on others for not having the bravery to continue fighting for what TRULY IS THE GREATER GOOD (aka ONE'S HAPPINESS). Because what I have come to realize through writing this entry is that it's only irresponsible if I fail which means that to be "responsable" is really a fearful act and not such a respectable one. If there is one rule I live by...it's that I can't live in fear....i must continue...even in financial risk. For now - this is the only choice I can live with...
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ok i really need to vent! [Nov. 17th, 2009|12:00 pm]
So I had my first all out fight with a direct superior last night. Although normally pretty calm and non-confrontational in business settings, this informal meeting terminated with "Wow, you really have a serious mental problem. I can't even talk to you anymore - I have to leave." And I left without looking back. Quite frankly i'm not sure if I will still have this job when I return from vacation, but only time will tell...

But now I need to vent and reflect a bit on just why this woman made me SOOOOO angry. Let me start with the background - so when I was interviewing for this position the woman asked me what my availability was. I told her I was already teaching at another school and I would not be able to work during those times. She said well thats ok because we would mostly need you at night. "Would you be available to work nights?" she asked me. "Would it be possible for you to work on saturdays?" "Yes, it would be" I said, adding "that's good because right now I don't have any classes at night with my other school." I then filled out a sheet of paper where I crossed off the times of my other classes.

Over the next 2 weeks this woman gave me 2 classes - one during the night and another during the day. My other institute then offered me a night class on a different day. I thought, sure, now i am evenly split - two classes for each institute (2 for NA, 2 for B) and with that i am working pretty much full time and don't really have time for any other classes. Then another person from NA, not the lady I previously mentioned but a co-worker, asked me if i could take saturday classes. I declined because for me my schedule was already full and I wanted to see how that worked for a while before accepting too much. I later returned to the lady who hired me to ask about my contract because I HADN'T ever seen it, let alone signed it and quite frankly I was worried that I wasn't going to get paid. At this point she seemed upset that I refused a saturday class even though I told her I would be available to work saturdays. I told her, well I can't just accept every class you offer me - I can only work so many hours in the week. She says but your contract says that you are to be available on saturdays - you told me you are available on saturdays! I say well I have no idea what my contract says because I haven't seen it yet but I never commited to being available every single saturday without exception. At this point we argued but I tried to not make a fight of it. Finally I said, look - I didn't understand that this is what you were expecting of me since I haven't seen the contract, but from now on I understand what you expect of me and I will start accepting anything you offer me at these times, but I have already made some other committments during these times and I need to follow through with them until they are finished. Once they are finished - I will only make further committments at these times to you.
She was unhappy with this but agreed. Told me to let her know when my class with B would end so that I could be available to NA.

With this, I THOUGHT, we had reached a mutual understanding of what miscommunication had taken place and how we were going to proceed. But clearly I was wrong. I returned to her yesterday to check on the status of my vacation request and she acted, as usual, as if she had no clue. Finally when she realized it was a pressing matter she started to investigate and found it hadn't been processed yet - even thanked me for checking in with her because otherwise they wouldn't have had replacement teachers for my classes in time. As I was about to leave she asked me when I would be available to work when I returned. I told her the same times as I am now. She then says "When are you ending your other job so that you can be available more for us?" To which i responded "I'm not ending my other job - I never said I was ending my other job." Then I thought she must be referring to the class that I said would end at some point and then i'd be available to her. So I ask her if this is what she was referring to. "Well yes, when will that class end?" "Unfortunately I don't know, my other institute allows cancelations which then extend the class, so I am unable to give you a definitive end date." "Well that could go on for years she says." "Well no, it won't be that long" I say, still calmly even though I was rather unappreciative of the condescending tone she was taking with me. Then she says "Well I know I said it was ok, but only for a little while. This can't continue. You need to be available for us at this time." " I said well we discussed this already and I don't know what you want me to do about it." "Well its in your contract" she says again "and you've been declining classes during the night and on saturdays." At this point, still calmly, but firmly I say "I have not declined any classes since we discussed this misunderstanding." "Yes, you have" she says. *LIE!* Then she pulls me up on her availability calendar (in error-ridden excel i might add) and says "Look, you told me you aren't available saturdays but you are supposed to be - it's in your contract." "No, I say - after we discussed the miscommunication I told you I AM available saturdays. If that is not in your calendar that is your mistake, not mine." At this point the argument turned into a full blown fight as to what I said/did versus what she said. And no matter how i tried to explain what had happened in detail - the miscommunication, what classes i accepted/declined and when and why she denied everything and even made things up to support her argument. It was just too much...and i lost it....i JUST lost it.
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long overdue update... [Oct. 30th, 2009|10:17 am]

Happy Halloween my friends.  A few people have asked me if they celebrate Halloween here in Chile and I think they do from a party standpoint but i'm not expecting any kids to hit my apartment buzzer in hopes that I will come down 8 flights of stairs to give them sweets ;-)
There is an ad on our refridgerator for a custome party. Not sure if anyone in the house is going but unfortunately I don't have a costume :-/

So...let's see what else is new?  I just had breakfast after enjoying a last minute (well sort of) opportunity to sleep in.  The class I usually teach Friday morning's was cancelled because my students are lazy - haha! Actually since I mostly teach exectutives the classes are cancelled relatively often due to unexpected work demands.  This class is actually at E&Y, one of my brother's former employers.  Boy are those guys funny!

Mmmm...excuse me - I was just having a sip of coffee. I only drink it a few times a week but boy do I enjoy the splurge :-) In any case...I am looking forward to coming home for Thanksgiving.  When living abroad to learn another language it is often frowned upon to come home and I know it might put a damper on the Spanish learning for a few weeks but I am excited to see my loved ones. I admittedly feel like I miss them much more than the previous experiences abroad.  I think my family's sense of "family" has grown stronger with my brothers' recent marriages and I can't help but want to be apart of the love fest :-)

So how bout the Spanish you ask?  Well...language learning is a journey and i know that its not supposed to be about the end result but about the journy itself, but by golly I just want to be able to speak fluently! Express myself! Make people laugh!  Say something half intelligent!  Haha...no but seriously I do understand and accept (sometimes after much frustration) that it is a slow process and I must celebrate the small accomplishments that will eventually lead to the greater goal and reward.  In fact- looking back on the German learning experience, I remember being frustrated more often than not....and I wished i'd celebrated the small stuff more "in the moment" because it wasn't until I did become fluent that I looked back and both recognized and appreciated the steps along the way. So this time...i'm celebrating the small stuff damnit!

Speaking of ...yesterday I was proud of myself for pulling a bit of a roll reversal in my Spanish class and teaching my teacher.  I have been fortunate enough to have a very experienced and passionate teacher who really tries to understand the mindset of her students so that she can help them learn Spanish more effectively.  Her and I had argued in the last class about the logic of a complex grammar point in English vs Spanish.  Unable to make my point on the spot I spent a few minutes at home drafting a diagram complete with example and explanation in Spanish!  But I won't lie..I was certainly going to rely mostly on my drawing and pointing abilities to make my point :-)  The result?  My teacher was extremely impressed. She said she finally understood why her English speaking students make the mistakes they do and although different from the logic of Spanish the English language does in fact have logic too. She said she is so grateful and lucky to have a student like me who is a teacher as well because most students don't conceptually understand how languages function. Admittedly I'm not even sure most of the teachers do, but she had a point nonetheless.  I'm honestly not sure whether i'm more proud for coming up with this example or for being able to help her as much as she helps me, but I certainly had a moment...a moment of...i'm good at this...i like this!  Made me think....for those of you who think I gave up my engineering ways...I assure you my analyzation of language is surely the work of a former engineer. 

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Trying to earn my keep [Oct. 2nd, 2009|07:06 pm]
Wow i've really been slacking on the blogging but for good reason.  I started working a few weeks ago and have been busy learning all the administrative details of two different language institutes. I have already had a few hickups trying to work for two different companies but I think I will still be able to mangage. Over the last two weeks I've only had 1 regular course at the one institute and 1 at the other (regular meaning that I have these classes every week for several months).  This coming week I start two new courses as well. And I occasionally take subsitute or special courses that are less frequent as well. I presume I will max out at 6 courses which between class hours, preparation hours and travel hours will probably amount to about a 45 hr work week.

I've also decided to take 2 classes per week of spanish, which amounts to 3 hours. I am lucky that I get a largely discounted rate since I take the classes at one of the instutes where I teach. I also adore my teacher - she is amazing :-)  I am not sure how long I will continue the classes at twice a week but I certainly need it to be that frequent at this point as I am still struggling a bit (and some time a LOT) to express myself and understand others in spanish. Wish me luck!

In other news I am going snowboarding again tomorrow. A friend of one of the girls that used to live with me wanted to go so we are going to go tomorrow. Unfortunately that means I have to get up at the but crack of dawn and take a taxi to meet people, but i'm trying to convince myself it'll be worth it.  I came to Santiago to be near the mountains and this will only be the second time i've gone. Sigh....now I remember how hard it is to go skiing or snowboarding when you don't work at a resort. I will be sure to take pictures and post them for ya'll.

Ok well thats it for now....stay tuned :-)
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blog for order! [Sep. 12th, 2009|10:47 am]
So sometimes I feel the need to use my blog to create a to-do list and today is one of those days.
Not sure what all I will actually be able to get to this weekend but I'm going to be ambitious and whatever I can't do will have to spill into the "work week"

Julie needs to...

1. Get a hair cut - omg my hair is out of control. Need to have Nell point me towards a barbor. Hopefully TODAY!

2. Have my nails done - I don't remember the last time I've gone this long without having them done but i'm not happy about it. Although i must say that the weather here is not as harsh so my cuticles and skin around my fingers are not breaking and cracking like it normally does. Still a priority though!

3. Write her 1st "real" lesson plan-  yes folks, I am teaching my first lesson that I will get payed for (prolly about $3 an hour..hehe) on monday.  Wish me luck!

4. Balance her creditcard transactions - tried to do this earlier this week but my credit card company locked me out for some stupid reason!

5. Buy - change purse, extension cord w/ more outlets, a highligher, a folder for paperwork, face wash, chapstick and a full map of Santiago. So yeah I need to go shopping REALLY bad.

6. Find her TOURIST VISA (i hope i didn't throw it away!) and college transcripts to give my employer so they can apply for my resident visa. I guess i'm gonna have to pay 10% in taxes.  Ohhhhh well...

7. Get money at the ATM - and fast- I think i have 3000 chilean pesos (aka $6) in my wallet

8. Check how much money she has left on her phone and how much she is paying per minute - been meaning to do this for a while but i've only recently actually started  using my phone. Yay - i'm not a loser anymore..hehe.

Ok so that is "the list."   I definitely have my work cut out for me. And this week is a shortened week cuz there is a big holiday on September 18th (Chile's independence day!)  Alrighty then, i'd better get started cuz it's already 11:30 and i'm still laying in bed -dirty and with a growling stomach.  Time to start the day!
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Yay- TEFL is done! [Sep. 9th, 2009|06:39 pm]
Hellooooooooooooo friends and family.  I would just like to express my excitement that my TEFL course is OVER :-)   So I decided to apply to be an Eng lish teacher at the school that I did my TEFL course.  Sent applications to a few other places as well but haven't heard anything yet. I had an official interview today  at my former school and I start a shortened (since I just did the TEFL course) 2 day training to teach there.  In other words I should officially be teaching English next week if I'm officially offered the job and if I choose to accept it. Look mom I did it! Hehe....

Jillian, a former fellow TEFLer and current roommate, and I went running today.  Cat kills and objectification abound! Although the winter is still bringing some cooler temperatures here in Chile, today was a beautiful sunny day.  I was quite comfortable in shorts and a long sleeve shirt but I think I should seriously reconsider the shorts next time.  Prude Chileans! Haha...no but seriously these people are deprived of public skin.  I felt myself craving some "desensitized" Americans today so I wouldn't  have had to feel like the freak running around with naked legs!  Oh well - it was somewhat entertaining on the other hand.

So last night we all (the family -as I am starting to call all my apartment-mates)went to an amazing indian restaurant to wish Robert fairwell. This crazy guy after staying here for 3 months, I think, is flying back to Germany for a few days and then flying to Spain to study for 3 months.  He is a just a ball of energy that we all will surely miss. Werden dich vermissen - Robert! I posted a few pics to facebook of last nights fun and hope to see the pictures that everyone else took soon.

It's so nice to have time to relax and start to think about getting done all the things i haven't had time to do since arriving in Santiago. Really need a manicure and haircut for instance.  I'm also going to do some shopping as I am running out of soaps, gels, etc.  AND i think i'm going to buy a few things for my room and rearrange some things since I have decided to stay in this apartment (with the family) for a while.  Looking forward to starting to earn money next week even if it is pocket change. I am also looking forward to studying spanish again.  It's been easy to forget that i'm even in a spanish speaking country and that part of the reason I came here was to learn spanish.  But now its time to bring it!   :-)

Alrighty...well I'm gonna sign off - I think the fam is going to a sports bar to watch the soccer game tonight (Chile vs. Brazil i think?) Mmmm...I love being in countries where soccer is more popular than football.  I could almost be a fan of spectator sports again ;-)

ciaoooo for now......
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Excitement amidst TEFL madness! [Aug. 30th, 2009|03:28 pm]
Well it would appear that I did the typical - I'll blog all the time thing and every post becomes more and more distant from the last.  BUT - i'll  - have you know that my TEFL certification class is kicking my ass - at least from a time perspective.  I barely have time to eat, sleep and talk to anyone outside of my class, but those of you who know me well would be pretty impressed at my efforts to balance my life thus far here in Chile :-)

Last weekend I finally fulfilled my long decided plans to go snowboarding in Chile. Let me just take a few minutes to tell you what an "adventure" that was. After planning to go 3 or 4 times and having to cancel for various reasons, Scott and I finally made it to the Andes.
So the third planned date was last saturday but after a late night pow-wow I realized that Scott had no winter clothes to speak of.  I could not in good conscious subject him to his first day snowboarding without proper gear. So I told him to find some stuff and we'd replan it for sunday.  Luckily, my wonderful host, Nell, offered me some clothes for him to borrow - i was feeling optimistic now. But saturday  night I couldn't sleep.  I even pulled out a book thinking it would put me to sleep (like they usually do), but no luck! I finished the book and finally fell asleep for about two hours.  I then got up bright and early, determined that nothing was going to keep me from the mountains this week. I walked a few blocks to the subway at about 7am sunday morning, carrying my heavy snowboard gear only to find that the subway isn't open that early on sunday. SHIT!  I had to take a taxi.  Then Scott and I got on a bus to head up to the place that would take us to the mountain.  First the shop opened late, then we had to go to a different resort than planned (i still don't know why!), and we ended up leaving late!

Now for the ride. About 10 ppl packed into a little van with poor suspension - even with my seatbelt my head nailed the ceiling several times even though it was a good 8 inches above my head! Heading out of the city we were almost immediately in the mountains.  I thought, wow - this isn't going to take long at all. Little did i know that we'd be twisting and turning and winding for over an hour. I had to close my eyes to withstand the nausea but it was sooooooo bumpy that i couldn't sleep.  I was SOOO tired but the rough ride was mercilous!

When we finally got there (1.5 hours later than expected) - the site was beautiful.  I had several exchanges with the driver trying to make sure I knew when and where to be for the pick up, but in hindsight I really couldn't have been certain enough.  The only problem with this resort as compared to the one I had originally planned was that there were very few beginner runs. Poor Scott stayed on the same little run for hours because there were no other choice. As if that wasn't bad enough, the weather was relatively warm and in this well gaurded beginner area there was no wind to make the termperature comfortable. I was so hot that no amount of stripping I did was enough to make my tired ass comfortable enough to teach him to snowboard.  I eventually took off to the higher altitudes for some cool wind and left poor Scott to practice his beginner turns. We later met back up and enjoyed some of the intermediate runs before heading back to catch our bus.

Unfortunately we couldn't find our bus and after about an hour of walking around looking for them and debating what to do, we had to call the company. Apparently they had been waiting for us all along in the exact spot we expected them (mind you we were standing 10 feet away!) but we didn't see them because they had changed vans. Needless to say we got home an hour late and the others weren't happy with us and quite frankly we weren't happy with them either! Oh well...I got home exhausted and completely incapable of facing my TEFL workload reality!!!!!
Back to work...after that "break."  Haha, no, despite all that it was beautiful and the snow was the best packed snow i've ridden in all my life. It hadn't snowed in about a week when we got there.  Can't wait to see what powder is like in the Andes.  Looking forward to the next trip :-)
(Just uploaded the snowboarding pics to facebook)

So I know this is already quite the long blog entry but I just have to update on one more interesting occurance.  My spanish teacher from my first week in Chile is a director.  I went to see his film "nosotros" last weekend at the SANFIC (Santiago Festival Internacional de Cine), which ended up winning an award. That night he asked if i'd be in one of his movies.  Sure i said. And this weekend I had my first SMALL part in what will be a short film series. Supposedly I will be the main character in the next one! 

Life sure is getting interesting, isn't it?  Lots of work, good times, good people, good food and wine (not to mention pisco sours).  I look forward to what every new day brings here - what a contrast to former times.  Thanks to everyone who has supported the new direction my life is taking. Love you more than words could describe....
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