Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another day at the office...

As I finish my sixth week working at GSK, I'm becoming more and more comfortable with my "teacher" role. In the beginning, it surprised me how easily I was able to adapt to creating lessons, organizing class schedules, and relating to students. I can't exactly say that I felt prepared to teach coming from OTP (read: Old Town Pizza), and I don't think ochem helped either, but I'm gaining more and more confidence with each class. In most cases my students are self-motivated, which makes my job a lot easier and more entertaining. Overall, I'm enjoying my work here.

This past weekend I went to Palmares to visit a few other interns who are working on a nature reserve called Madre Verde. Palmares is a small town about an hour and a half outside of San Jose. There were twelve of us staying in a two bedroom cabin, so it was a bonding experience for all those included. We arrived Saturday afternoon and bought the necessary items to make dinner, which included pasta and guacamole (prepared by two Mexican guys working at the reserve). Palmares isn't really the place for nightlife, so we had our own cocktail party for entertainment. Of course, I was the one sipping the tequila concoctions (tequila, lime juice, fresca, and a dash of salt) with my two new Mexican friends.
Sunday morning we got up at a decent hour and wandered around the reserve and enjoyed the great weather. I guess you could say that overall it wasn't a very eventful weekend, but I enjoyed the "small town" feel of Palmares and spending time with the other interns.

This weekend coming up I am dog sitting for an American couple who moved to Costa Rica last April. I met them through another intern from Germany. I went to their house last night and was able to meet Lucy (the dog) as well as a group of peace corps volunteers. Tyler and Anna (dog owners) met in the peace corps and try to stay involved in the program. It was great to hear everyone's story and just chat with other Americans about life in Costa Rica.

That's all I have for now!
un beso para todos

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pura vida

Although not much time has pasted since my last post, I have a lot to tell you about. After spending a few nights at Tania's I decided to move back to where I was living before. Well, not exactly where I was before, but into an apartment that is literally right in front of where I was living (by right in front I mean maybe ten feet). When I first realized that I had made a poor decision to move I was really upset because I didn't think I would be able to go back, but then I realized that the apartment in front of where I was previously staying would be avaliable this week. So, I went and talked to Diana (landlord) immediately about that apartment and that night (last Wednesday) I saw the apartment and decided right away that I wanted to live there. For the first time since I arrived in Costa Rica I finally felt like I was making a good decision. In other words, instead of trying to rationalize everything, I just went with my intuition. It was such a relief to feel so sure about living there, because before I was really confused.

So, this Friday I will move in to the new apartment and until then I'm staying in the house where I was living before. Have I confused you yet? Hopefully not. Anyway, this new apartment has a bedroom with two beds, kitchen, and bathroom. It's furnished with the basics. I will probably try to find a roommate to keep my expenses low, which shouldn't be too hard because there are a few new interns coming in September. I will be able to walk to work and the gym, which is a huge plus. Also, I'll be right next door to the friends I made in the other house. As far as improving my Spanish, one of the girls living next door only speaks French and Spanish so obviously I will communicate with her in Spanish. That basically sums up my housing situation. I had to laugh at myself for moving all my stuff to Tania's just to move it back again.

This past weekend I went to Liberia with Tania to visit her family. We left early Friday morning and got into Liberia around noon. Friday, we spent time with her family and watched tv and slept for a large portion of the afternoon. Then, Tania and her sister, Stephanie, showed me around Liberia. It's really small compared to San Jose; it's more how I imagined life in Costa Rica. It's a place where everyone knows each other and its common to see kids playing outside or people sitting on their patios just enjoying the day. I really enjoyed the small town feel of things and staying at Tania's house. Tania's mom has somewhere around ten siblings, so it was hard for me to keep up with names but it was really fun seeing people come and go from the house all day. The door was always open, which reminded me of home.

Saturday I went with Tania's boyfriend, Marco, and a few other people to Playa Tamarindo and Playa Avellanas. We were supposed to leave around 10 am, but considering "tico time" we didn't leave until 1 pm. We had a great time and got to watch a really beautiful sunset at Playa Avellanas, which you can only get to by taking a dirt road with dangerously large potholes. I was really lucky to be with someone who had a car and knew about this particular beach. Saturday night we returned to Liberia and went out with some of Tania and Marco's friends. Since it was a holiday weekend here they saw a lot of people from high school (think Coach's over Christmas break).

Sunday Tania and I drove to Playa Hermosa and spent a few hours there before it started raining. Then, we went back to Liberia to catch our 4 pm bus to San Jose. It was a really relaxing weekend and if I get the chance to go back to Liberia I definitely will. For now...back to work!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

First Weeks in CR

So much has happened in the last few weeks. I probably should have started this earlier, but "better late than never" I guess. I'll do my best to recap what I've been doing since I arrived July 12th. Here is goes...

My first few days in San Jose were overwhelming. I guess you could say I arrived in San Jose with few expectations, which could good or bad depending on how you spin it. I knew that San Jose wasn't the safest of cities; however, I never anticipated so many people telling me how careful I need to be here. Luckily, I'm living in San Pedro, which is a fairly safe area by the University of Costa Rica. I've always been aware of my surroundings, but I've definitely stepped that up a bit since arriving here. For the first week or so I despised going anywhere alone, but now I'm more comfortable with the idea. I know where I can go and where I shouldn't go and I know how to get around using public transportation. So, for all those who are concerned about my safety rest assured that I'm being cautious!

On to other things, I started working the Monday after I arrived in San Jose. I didn't necessarily need to be in the office, but I wanted to stay busy and learn as much as I could before Jane left. GlaxoSmithKline is like any office, nothing special but I like it here. The people have been really welcoming and helpful. I've started teaching; however, I don't know if the students realize that yet. haha! I have a few really dedicated students, but generally english classes come after everything else. Fair enough I guess. I'm working on accepting the fact that classes will inevitably be cancelled at least a few times a week. So, I have to keep a somewhat flexible schedule. Right now, I have four group classes that meet once a week for two hours each and 10 individual students who have one or two hours of class per week.

As some of you might already know, I'm probably going to be moving in with my friend Tania. She is from Guanacaste (northwest region in CR), but she's studying in San Jose. A week or so after I settled in living with other foreigners I realized that I wasn't speaking enough spanish, well by my standards/expectations at least. So, I panicked at first but then Tania offered me her extra room. It's nothing special. Ok, so it's really really small, but I'm still really excited about it. I know it will help my fluency a lot.

Well, for some more exciting news I've already been to a few amazing beaches here. I went to Puerto Viejo the first weekend that I was here, which is on the Carribean side. Last weekend, I went to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. I definitely want to go back to Manuel Antonio. There is a big national park there full of wildlife and a few of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen, almost Puerto Vallarta quality. I know I'm biased! Hopefully I can get some photos up soon. This weekend I'm going to Jaco for my friend Lici's going away party. She leaves to go back to Germany next friday. Apparently Jaco is a more tourist type of destination and a lot of the other interns don't like it for that reason, but it's the closest to San Jose. It's still a beach so I won't be complaining about it!

I don't want to bore anyone so I'll leave it at that for now. I'll try to start posting on a regular basis. Miss you all!!!