Friday, August 29, 2008

My first student

Last night I met my first student. I'll be teaching English once a week to gain some experience. My student is a young Korean woman, named Sun.

Lilly, the coordinator for the YMCA, had previously told me that Sun wanted to work on situations she may encounter, like speaking with a doctor, talking on the phone and shopping.

Sun has been in the U.S. for 6 months. She's been married to an American for 2 years. Her English is very good. Last night we just got to know each other. I asked her some questions to try and get more of an understanding of what she would like to learn or improve upon.

She told me she wanted to work on grammar. She also said she wanted me to give her homework (just like me. I like to know what to study, then practice new words out loud). I gave her a book with health related words and asked her to study them. Next time we meet, we'll have a conversation about health care. For my homework, I'll be looking over a basic English book so that we can work on grammar too.

From speaking with her, I believe she is like me when it comes to my Spanish skills. I can make sentences, but I have a much more difficult time comprehending. So, I suggested that we also speak on the phone once a week.

I'm looking forward to my new role as teacher.

Working Visa: there's hope

I'm feeling a little more relieved writing this post about working visas than my last post regarding the same subject. I didn't feel quite comfortable thinking about working without a visa. I don't want to work "en negro", but there is hope for me!

In another post of mine I talked about websites I like to stalk; is one of them. The site gives expats living in Buenos Aires a way to connect and share information.

A very kind woman, Katie, saw a post of mine on concerning working visa's and teaching english. She wrote me a very detailed email on how to go about obtaining a work visa and most importantly she gave me hope! It's possible for me to get a working visa! I'm greatly appreciative of her taking the time to write me. I'd like to share a little of what she wrote. (I hope she doesn't mind)

Katie wrote:
"I entered on a tourist visa. I had been told before entering the country that I could enter on a tourist visa, get a job and switch it to a work visa. Fortunately, that is true."
" have to find a job, sign a contract (or a Pre-Contracto), file a bunch of papers, pay 200 pesos and wait."
I'll need to "bring the right papers from the states. They are: Your passport, Your ORIGINAL birth certificate and A letter from the police in your hometown that states whatever criminal record you may have. Be sure to get this document legalized by a notary and then legalized by an apostilary (google it)."
Next, I'll have get an Argentine version of a police record (40 pesos) and then I must get all of my documents translated into Spanish.
"Once you have all of that, you can apply for a year long visa (which you can renew later). I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't that bad. "
Lastly she wrote:
"Be sure to check out the Migraciones website ( and remember that we're from an EXTRA-MERCOSUR country."
I hope by posting Katie's response other future expats will find the information useful and give them hope as well!

Thank you Katie for putting my working visa worries at ease.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Working Visa: outlook not so good

So, I may not be able to obtain a working visa to teach English in Argentina. As I read through blogs it appears that teaching English is a black market style job. A little bit more of a risk than I planned for.

No interview no job. Oxford Seminars, who I get my teaching certification through, told me Argentinian language schools don't provide employment contracts without a face to face interview. Generally and legally, you should obtain working visas before leaving your home country.

Solution: A 90 day tourist visa? As I continue to read on, I read that Argentina is lax on 90 day tourist visas. You can either stand in a long line for a renewal or leave the country for a couple hours for a new 90 day visa. Maybe in the end of February I'll be taking a day trip to Uruguay?
"If you decide to teach ESL and live in Argentina long term, it is very unlikely you will be getting a work visa. Language institutes will not give out contracts to ESL teachers, which means working illegally or 'en negro'. The tourist visa, which is a stamp immigrations officials put in your passaport, is valid for 90 days. If you stay in Argentina longer than three months, it must be renewed." by Sabine - About the Tourist Visa and Border Runs. TEFL in Argentina Blog

August 17th

I forgot to post on August 17th; this is a special date; this is my lucky day.

August 17th is my aunt and uncles wedding anniversary. They took me in as a teenager and gave me a wonderful, caring, loving environment to finish growing up in. If it weren't for them, I am so very sure I would not be where I am today. This year makes 29. I also admire their love for each other.

August 17, 1998 I left for Sweden. August 17, 1999 I returned home. I returned with determination to get a college degree. 5 years later, after going through undergrad and graduate school, I received my first job offer. It was exactly 5 years, to the date, from when I returned from Sweden. It gives me chills to think that I achieved a goal on the exact 5 year mark.

This year, about 2 weeks before 08/17, I was calling around my area to inquire about volunteering to teach English. I got a hold of a woman from the local YMCA; Lilly. (which is also the name of my niece) Lilly and I scheduled a day to meet. That following Sunday wasn't good for me, I had to be up in Connecticut for Danielle's shower, so we planned on meeting the next Sunday. After I hung up, I opened my calendar on my cell to set a reminder... it was August 17th.

I'd like to think it means something.
I believe it means something.

Ready to be Transplanted

The other night I think I was being compared to a banana tree? As I was told, Banana trees don't have deep roots. When a storm comes through they fall over. So be it. I don't have deep roots in PA; I'm sort of a banana, but I won't just fall over.

Maybe I'm of a banana variety because I never had the opportunity to develop deep roots? I'm sure its due to my childhood. At the age of 12, I remember counting down the exact number of days until my 18th birthday. I knew at 18 I could legally escape from my parents. I dreamed of the day I could uproot. Luckily at 17 I got that opportunity and transplanted myself at my aunt and uncle's. I knew that I was welcome and I felt stable. But secretly, I also felt a pang of guilt and never put my roots in; I didn't want to be a burden. I knew they were paying to feed and house me. I was never made to feel like a burden, never. I just felt that way. I knew my year in Sweden was temporary and I knew living in my college town was temporary too. Moving to Philly even felt temporary. I've now been living here for FOUR years. I have yet to purchase a real sofa because I have the mindset that I'll be leaving soon...yes, for four years I kept thinking I can't buy a sofa because the thought of owning a sofa made me feel like I would have to stay (I know I'm a banana to think this).

I can feel the wind blowing, but I'm not going to fall over. I'm just going to transplant myself.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Plan: 1st week in Buenos Aires

Today I came across a link for a Spanish School in Buenos Aires. Maybe I'll spend my first week in BA studying Spanish while living with an Argentine host family? The price seems reasonable and it would be a more gentile way for me to get acquainted.

The Academy of Recoleta offers a week (15 hours) of Spanish lessons for $170 USD. They also offer accommodations with an Argentine Host family at $15 a day (food not included). The total cost for one week of accommodations, Spanish lessons, airport pickup, fees & taxes would be $365.

Since I would study for just 3 hours a day, I may also be able to go on interviews and look for an apartment?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

following my heart...or not

why, when my heart tells me to do something i'm hesitant, but when it tells me not to do something i'm more likely to give it some thought?

i know the Columbian isn't the one for me. without going into details i just know it, in my heart. he's starting to pull away from me and i know i'll lose him soon, whether it be now or when i follow my heart to Buenos Aires. so why do i sit here and think, maybe. maybe i'll try a real relationship with him. maybe it could work out?

things happen for a reason, and i do believe that. a new friend came into my life in the past month. we have amazing conversation, I feel like he just gets me and I feel an excited energy when we're talking. i would like to believe that he appeared to show me how things should be.

maybe the Columbian relationship is ending because if it doesn't, i'll want to stay here, with him and i won't leave?

nevertheless, it hurts knowing he'll be leaving my life, i'm not prepared, i'm not ready to let him go.

grrr, here i am again thinking that maybe it could work out...i'm thinking "just let me try and see if it can work out"...

my heart knows it won't. why don't i want to listen?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Will I?

Do you you ever wish you could go back to your past self and say "Don't worry, you're going to be ok"? I wish I could go back and tell my college self, who was struggling with money "Don't worry, it's all going to work out. You'll find a well paid job. Don't worry so much and for heaven sake enjoy yourself, you're in college!".

Right now, I wish I could ask my future self some questions. Will I be ok? Will I be able to easily find a job teaching English in BA, will I find a roommate and apartment? Will I make enough money to survive? Did I make the right decision or going with my heart wasn't the brightest move? Will I get mugged? Will I learn to tango or will I snub it for my beloved salsa? Will I really learn Spanish?

Will I really make the move to Buenos Aires?

Friday, August 15, 2008

These are a few of my favorite blogs

The title of this post was inspired by a salsa song I heard the other night while out dancing. Yes, yes, there is a salsa remix of the song "A few of my favorite things". Also, last night, to my surprise I heard a Cha Cha Cha rendition of Coldplay's Clocks. At first I thought, Latin Coldplay? No no no. But then by the end of the song my mind was changed. For the next Coldplay remix I'd like to suggest "Yellow" as a bachata.

Here are a few of my favorite Buenos Aires *Expat blogs:

I also enjoy stalking:
abrv. Expat
adj. Residing in a foreign country

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running Away

ok, so I admit it. As a kid I always fantasized about running away. (Hey, my parents were not so kind (nicely putting it)) I left the home of my parents at 17 and it was THE BEST thing to happen to me. Then at 20 I ran off to Sweden for a year and that was the second best thing. At 23 I left home for Bloomsburg to get an Education and that was 3rd best thing that could have happened to me. So, based off of past experiences, it's worked for me. 4th time a charm??

I don't see my desire to leave the U.S as running away. Quite honestly, I have it very good here: Nothing to run from. My friends are wonderful, my family is amazing and loving and I'm lucky to have a well paid interesting job with a great manager. What's the problem then? Some septics may say (and you know who you are), I bet it's because "she aint got a man". I'll squish that belief with my left shoe for ya. Some girls, when they hear their friends are getting married they think "why not me?". For me, when I hear that someone lived in a foreign country, or wants to move to another land I can feel myself getting jealous and think "why not me?". It's something that's in me. It's a strong desire. Anyone who has been a part of my life for the last 10+ years knows that I constantly talk about wanting to live abroad.

Is the grass greener on the other side...well as the saying goes, not always. But I would like the opportunity to smell some fresh cut grass. If I happen to find a plethora of dandelions, than I can either make a salad or comfortably call the U.S. my home turf again . I'd be ok with coming back to the U.S...but for now I can't be comfortable here unless I run around on a new patch of grass.

Where it begins

Where it began... Well, truthfully I don't know where my desire to leave it all all began. What I do know is that my journey to Buenos Aires is beginning to take flight. Buenos Aires, BA as so commonly called by my soon to be fellow expats, has been an obsession of mine in the last couple of months. I can't stop reading blogs, websites, travel logs and I find myself searching for hostels , roommates and most importantly a job. I haven't intently looked for a roommate, hostel or job, but I want to get a sense of what is out there when that time comes.

My first step on the journey: On Friday August 8th, I signed up for classes to obtain a certification to teach English. I need to say thank you to Danielle who promised to yell at me if I didn't sign up for the classes by the time of her shower. Gracias Dulce Danielle. The classes consist of 3 Saturdays and 3 Sundays from 9am to 6pm in September. How can I teach English when I don't know Spanish? Most of my students will be business people with intermediate English who wish to improve their skills.

Starting to walk... away:
I have the hopes of leaving in November / December. In October I need to be in D.C for Danielle's wedding. I also would like / need to give a month notice to my landlord and employer.
I may stumble, but I will get up! You see, November is the start of Spring in BA. Not too many people begin their English classes then. The need for English teachers is from March to November.

Planning my big jump:
First I'll obtain the necessary / desired certification to teach English as a second language. The organization that will provide me with classes to teach English will also provide job placement. However, I'm a little skeptical about their interpretation of "job placement". Will they really get me a job or will they give me a list of employers and a hardy "go get 'em girl". Once I obtain employment, I'll give my 1 month notice on apartment and job and then begin to purge my belongings.

Stratigizing on how to land. The plan: on two feet
I plan on getting a private room in a hostel for one week. (roughly $35-$50 a night for a private room). During that week I'll look for potential places to call "mi casa" and a roommate I'll that I can hopefully call "amiga". I would like for my roommate to be 1. female and 2. have the ability to speak only Spanish to me ( I want to immures myself). Ok, so compatibility and cleanliness are important too.