Jobs, apartments, parties and empanadas.

Trip Start Oct 25, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  , Cundinamarca,
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It has been over a week since my last blog and since I have a memory like a sieve, I will try and group the stories by subject instead of day.

Jobs: I started looking for jobs on Tuesday because Monday was a public holiday.. But my first interview was on Thursday. I was primarily looking for English teaching jobs at this point. The first place was called Verve. I took the trans milenio there and of course I arrived an hour early ... The pay is ~$14 an hour, but there is only about 3 hours of work per day- early in the morning or in the evening. It wasn't so much an interview as an orientation- but there was no guidance except 'make sure you go with a lesson plan' ...umm, thanks. It's a private business and I travel to people's houses to teach English. They're usually young adults learning English for a specific reason.
The following day I had an interview at Darlington English Consultants - hmm, first impression was not very good! The door was smashed and there was blood all over the floor. No one cared to offer me an explanation, which is ok, because I don't think I want to know. This company offered me the job too, but it is the same story- only a few hours a day with similar pay. However, they deal with private companies in Bogota and teach the employees. I accepted this job too- in the hope that times won't clash and I can work more than 3 hours a day!
I also walked into a English company near my hostel and although the lady promised to get back to me (twice), I have yet to hear any more.
The final English teaching job was for 'First Class English' - who do the same thing as Darlington. I had emailed them twice in the last 3 weeks, but they never got back to me. So, I walked into the building instead... Awkward :). The pay is ~$9 an hour, except they can offer me 20-30 hours a week. It was also the first interview I was actually asked interview questions ! Then they made me sit an English test- really? An hour of utter boredom. I was invited back the next day for orientation, but I didn't want to go- so I didn't. I would rather 3 hours a day of $14, than 6 hours of $9. Beggers can be choosers. However, at this point I had also lost the motivation to teach English. I thought I wanted a breezy half-assed job while here, but I don't think that's for me. I would prefer something a bit more challenging. So I have started applying at pharmaceutical companies. Only Merck and Pfizer so far, but plans for more! I have also joined LinkedIn and will figure it out soon :) My first English student is this evening at 6:30. I think it's just an orientation and I don't get paid... But hopefully it will give me an idea of what the hell to do! I will also advertise private lessons in the surrounding buildings too. And I have another English teaching job interview tomorrow... And I will check out some more pharmacies... And return to the laundry that ruined my chinos! The whole leg is bleached!

Apartment: I was very very lazy when it came to apartments. I looked at 1 place and I took it. It's in a suburb called Salitre- about 40 blocks from the centre of Bogota. However, Bogota is massive so I am still considered 'in town' (which is well over 100 streets an roads in both directions). I left the hostel in Chapinero on Monday morning and came to Salitre. I live on the top floor of a 10 storey red-brick building - except Salitre is full of 10 storey, red-brick buildings - it's like sim city!... Hence, I get lost. I was also told these buildings used to be projects. Thrilling. Just like the Bronx haha- but they're not anymore and it's a nice area. My new bubble. I live with a girl named Maria. She is 23 and is finishing her degree in chemical engineering. She has previously worked for oil companies and believe it or not, lived in southport for 6 months last year. Freaking small world! Most people have no idea of the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Queensland... And this girl knows Nerang street! She then moved to Sydney but got sick and had to come home. I speak Spanish (if you can call it that) to her and she speaks English to me. I have my own bedroom and bathroom (both very small) - but the apartment is exactly what I needed. Hopefully today the hot water, gas and tv will start working. Yes, I haven't showered in 3 days. It's so freezing! But I won't write any more about my sponge baths.... I wash myself with a rag on a stick (hopefully you get the Simpsons reference). The place is 350 per month including everything which is pretty good - I hope - except I didn't check anywhere else so I could be very wrong.

Food: Up until yesterday, I have been eating out for almost every meal and averaging about $5 per meal. I have also eaten some street food (except I have been warned not to) But it's so convenient! I'm on the street... There is food on the street... I want food! I don't know the names of any of most of the food I have eaten, but it's all gluten, cheese, rice, fried and some meat in various presentations- which I think I have already written about. I like it, my stomach doesn't. I also attempted a Colombian supermarket yesterday. Epic fail. The store was enormous and had everything, but had nothing at the same time. It was organised soooo poorly too. I think I just needed some familiarity with brands. The prices are fairly similar to Australia too, which I was surprised about. I managed some essentials, but I'm sure there will be many more visits to the stupid supermarket. I guess I can't survive off street empanadas. I was told I could buy anything off the street... A minute later I needed an umbrella- and I found the umbrella guy. Genius. Convenience stores are no longer the most convenient option.

Parties: I have been clubbing twice in 12 days - probably twice as much as I have been clubbing in the past 12 months! On Friday night I went to Andreas (a massive club about an hour from the city) with Sissi, Sebastian, Juliana and some of their friends. Julian's driver took us there - yes, driver. However, the club was a maze! Tables, chairs, rooms, bars and people everywhere. The roof was really low and it was decorated very Mexican. But more importantly, they played reggaeton until about 2am... Then they changed to salsa. Yes, I tried to salsa. I don't think I did too badly, but it's all in the hips. Maybe next time I won't do it after half a bottle of aguardiente! Note: aguardiente is like cheap sambucca- and should be illegal. It's not that strong, but it is foul.
Then, on Sunday night Natalia invited us to the 5th anniversary of a tapas bar in town. I assumed for tapas. But, when I got there, it was a party again! The people had been drinking from midday and were all drunk, sweaty salsa dancing. Many glasses smashed. After that, we all went to anther club which was $12 entry- but unlimited alcohol! I had a few, not too many... Then enjoyed a burger and called it a night by 1pm.
I was invited to Sebastian's parents (and cousin) house for lunch yesterday too and had some traditional food and drink - the drink was like a papaya smoothie. Don't worry, yes Mum, I took a bottle of wine. His parents don't speak much English so Sebastian spent the whole time translating ... But they were really nice and very helpful about Colombia. I think they were a bit concerned for me and just wanted to make sure I was aware of all the possible things that could go wrong- and then how to deal with it. For example, they want me to check my travel insurance covers private hospitals instead of public ones - because the public system is a disaster. (Mum, does it?)
I also went to Usasquen and La Hacienda with Sissi this week. She showed me the area which has some history in Colombia. We had a beer and then some savory crepes. We then say in the park and she helped me with my poster to privately advertise English.. But I left at approximately 3pm because she can't drive her car after 3pm every second day. Bogota's answer to congestion?

Transport: I have taken more busetas (public transport) than most of the people I have met. It's about 80 cents to go anywhere in the city. The downside, they're crowded and disgusting. Yesterday I was squished against about 8 people ... Including a screaming clown performing a routine with his screaming idiot friend at the front of the bus. You think I should pay you money for screaming in my ear and sweating on me? You ARE a clown. But it's constant. People selling candy, their story, the bible, music etc etc. If I was warned not to eat street food, I'm sure bus food is far far worse. The taxis are cheap, but it adds up if I take too many.

Weather: Today was the first day it rained (hence the umbrella). But the weather has been really pleasant. 10-20 degrees everyday- as I expected. This is probably why I shouldn't wear thongs and shorts, but I would still be comfortable doing that. I was also informed not to because I would stand out like a foreign target... And because people dress respectably here. In this elitist society, shorts and thongs do not belong!

I have almost been gone 3 weeks week, but I am still a long way from feeling 'comfortable'. I think it's all dependent on finding a good full time job. I can't sit around in a city of 8million twiddling my thumbs. Or I get can a job selling my story on the buseta? Thoughts?

Imma go n get ready 4 me English student now. I hope I do good but. I need a job ay.

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Chantelle on

Omg, an entire leg of your chinos got bleached! Wtf were they doing at that laundry place, retarded, I wouldn't trust them again lol.

Perhaps with teaching English, figure out what your students already know, if anything, and figure out why they need to learn it. If it's for work, focus on words they'd need to use in their workplace, and just start by switching out the Spanish word for the English one. Like 'computer', 'deadline', 'briefing', 'proposal', 'thank you', or whatever words they commonly use in that environment. Then explain what a noun, verb, adverb, and adjective are, and what past/present tense and plurals are, and get them to change a list of words into a verb or plural or past tense. Like 'describe' into 'described', or 'description', or 'describing'. etc. I don't even know if your Spanish will be good enough to explain all this haha. So good luck with it!

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