Monterrey, MX, Kuwait City, KW

2014-2017 I was in Kuwait City(Mahboula) Kuwait. I left there in June and have begun my new adventure in Monterrey Mexico.

As I am sitting here in my apartment, the one I have already hung pictures up in and moved furniture around in and figured out the AC night ONE. I can’t help by contrast my transition to Mexico and my transition to Kuwait. It has been nearly 3 years since that move and I haven’t thought about it much until now.

The similarities are there: nervous to make friends and worried about getting my classroom set up in time for students.

The differences are what got me. When I moved to Kuwait I was barely 22. I had just graduated college. I had never worked full time. And I hadn’t left the USA since I was 13. When I arrived in Kuwait I was shocked at how different my neighbor(HOOD) was compared to the one I had left in Ohio. I didn’t understand the escalators that were just ramps that your grocery cart can go up. I didn’t understand the metric system very well. I got overwhelmed in the grocery store. I panicked trying to light my gas stove and oven. All of these things were new experiences. But the big reason they were a big deal was because I didn’t expect them. I expected the way people dressed to be different and the way they drove. But not the way they grocery shopped, my USA brain figured that was the same everywhere.

Now, in Mexico, I feel like an old pro. I know that there will be glitches with the apartment. I also know how to control the temperature. I also can totally handle where to hang things up. Hot water? I’ll figure it out. And when I got to the grocery store and they had an escalator ramp for my shopping cart I felt comforted. Because they had that in my last home too. And if I can make it there, I can make it here, and soon it will feel like home too.

 

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Free Mondays

I think it should be a new rule that we only have school Tuesday-Friday. Today we don’t have school in Mexico as we are celebrating Benito Juarez’s birthday. I was able to wake up without an alarm and go to the gym. Instantly feeling better because of the endorphins. Then I was able to take a shower and take it easy. Now I am in a cafe preparing myself for the week. I can review my plans and get a sizable amount of work done. It has been lovely. Having two full days of a weekend really makes a difference. It balances my brain and body way better.

I feel way more calm starting my school week and I am betting there won’t be as many “Sunday Scaries”.

TUESDAY-FRIDAY could solve a lot of problems.

 

Long Weekend

Since I last wrote, I drove to USA 2.5 hours to the border and thanks to the Puente (long weekend) we waited another 2.5 hours at the border. We ate a lunch and then went to Target, then Old Navy, then Ulta and it was great. I spent too much money, but it was great. We stayed in a hotel last night and this morning we drove back across the USA-Mexico border and I am now laying in bed SO EXHAUSTED.

I planned on telling everyone what I got, but I think I need a nap instead.

TARGET

If you are from the USA and have lived abroad for any sort of time, you will understand that you miss Target. It has everything. Its dollar section is a treasure trove for teachers. It has work clothes, chill clothes, weekend clothes, food, drinks, makeup, home goods. IT HAS EVERYTHING.

My weekend plans fell through and I have been feeling sad about that so I took control and today my friend and I are driving to the USA (2.5-3 hours + 1 for crossing the customs border). and staying a night in the USA going to Target, Ulta, and Old Navy.

I am so excited. I will update you on all my goodies tomorrow!

New Zealand

I’ve written so many of these. I’ve pled my case. I shouldn’t have to say this all again.

White people murdering people in a mass shooting are TERRORISTS. 

Muslims praying peacefully, are NOT TERRORISTS. 

No one’s worth should be quantified by any other person’s experiences with them. However, I have this unique view on the Middle East and Muslims as I lived in Kuwait a Middle Eastern country and Muslim nation for 3 years. They were some of the best 3 years of my life. I walked off that plane a month after turning 22, never having flown on a plane for more than 4 hours and I knew I was welcome. The Kuwaiti and Muslim people welcomed me with open arms. They helped me find things at the grocery store. They invited me to their houses for lunch or dinner after school while I tutored their kids. They shared their traditions with me. They brought me their food, clothing, and customs as gifts. They invited me to Iftar during the month of Ramadan. They took me to the hospital when I was sick and comforted my parents while they helped me with the paperwork that was all in Arabic – a language I didn’t speak and wasn’t being scolded for not learning. Their call to prayers became my marks of time and while I didn’t venture to the Mosque 5 times a day I found their dedication and peaceful songs beautiful. I felt safer in this Muslim country than I did in the USA.

We can’t sit idly by as people are massacred. We also can’t sit idly by in instances of systemic racism or xenophobia. It is our job to protect fellow humans regardless of race, religion, sexuality, gender, etc. And we as teachers are in a unique position because we have little minds in our classroom watching our reactions and taking in our every move. The more compassion we can show those different than us, the more cultures we can expose our children to, the more inclusive we can be to those around us, the better.

We can do this. 

We can bring peace. 

We have to stand together. 

 

Disappointment

For 6 weeks I have been looking forward to this weekend because this is the weekend my SO is coming to visit. Long distance is hard ya’ll. But the travel gods are against us. There was a snow storm in Colorado where he would be flying from. They grounded all Boeing 787 flights. His Thursday morning flight was supposed to be at 8:30 am today. It was cancelled at 11:30 am Wednesday. He was going to be here Thursday-Monday. They said he could maybe fly down on Sunday and then come back Monday. It isn’t worth it. I am crushed. I spent my day yesterday crying. We don’t know when we’ll see each other again at this point…

I’m trying to be positive. I am trying to make new fun plans to keep myself entertained so I’m not alone and sad all weekend.

Send me positive vibes.

Kindness

Its pretty amazing what kids can come up with, yeah?

Yesterday I had recess duty by the swings. There were a lot of arguments about who was going to use the swing when, who got on first, who should have to tried. Frankly it was miserable. I work at an elementary school that has 8 classes per grade with 21 kids per grade. This means at recess with grades 3, 4, and 5, I don’t know kids names, teachers, or even grades sometimes. It makes it hard to stand my ground at duty.

Today I was dreading going to the swings, I didn’t want to deal with students arguing and fighting the whole time. But today they surprised me. They came up with an idea to say a student’s name and then kindness and that is who they would switch the swings with. This meant everyone got a turn, they got to decide when they got off the swing, and there was a lot of positive peer pressure.

I found out who their teacher was and told her about their acts of kindness throughout recess and she was so happy. It is always great to call students out for doing the right thing and today I was given a little hope.

Kindness.

Speaking Enough…To Get By

*I am recognizing my privilege. I was born in the United States and I grew up speaking English. Thankfully many people in the world speak English and I didn’t have to learn another language to survive growing up.*

This is year 5 abroad for me.

I turned 22 and moved to Kuwait one month later. When I moved there it was estimated the population was 3 million with only 1 million of that people Kuwaiti. Most of the expats living there spoke English, Arabic, and their native language (depending on where they came from). This meant that I could order food at a restaurant in English, I could be at the airport and speak English with customs agents, and I taught in English. I learned just enough Arabic to do the important things, say hello and goodbye, give directions to a taxi driver if necessary, and lets be honest swear in Arabic. Its usually the first words they teach foreigners. I could also introduce myself and tell someone where I am from and where my family lives. My lack of Arabic skills would frustrate me when I was with friends or families of my students and they would be speaking in Arabic and I couldn’t keep up. I knew just enough to get by but not enough to have a conversation.

The summer I turned 25 I moved to Monterrey, Mexico. While my Spanish was definitely more advanced than my Arabic, most people here speak English. But I can order food, get directions, get my car fixed, and chat with the people at the grocery store in Spanish. I can get by. But I am so frustrated on a daily basis that I can’t communicate fully in Spanish. I have tried to learn, I take Spanish classes, and I’m doing fine. BUT I want to be able to have full conversations in Spanish.

And then I think about the millions of people in the USA who’s first language isn’t English and how frustrating and scary it must be to not understand what is going on around you. It must be equally frustrating and scary when people just expect you to learn a language as if it is easy to do. Living abroad has taught me compassion for those in the states who are not fluent in English and get belittled daily for that. It also taught me to be grateful that I just happened to grow up speaking a language most people know at least a little of.

Extroverted Heart Betrays Me

On Thursday I wrote about looking forward to a calm, relaxed weekend. My extroverted heart did not follow those directions. I went to the pool, went for dinner, went to a rooftop terrace, went to a bar my friend owns (twice) the second time for board games, I went to a demonstration, I went to see live music.

WHY DIDN’T I TAKE IT EASY?

Because now its Monday and I’m already realizing that I have dinner plans for Tuesday, Spanish class and Trivia Wednesday, my SO gets in town Thursday and we have a weekend of activities ahead of us. I need to remind myself that sometimes its okay not to go to ALL THE THINGS.

Sometimes you need to force yourself to reset. So hopefully I can do some resetting tonight.

Day Light Savings Is A Joke

I have been living abroad for 5 years now and every single country I have lived on follows different rules. In Kuwait they just straight up didn’t have daylight savings so for half the year my time difference with my parents was 8 hours and the other half of the year it was 7. Now I am living in Mexico who just does their day light savings a month later than everyone. So on Saturday my parents were one hour ahead of me and my significant other was 1 hour behind me. Now my SO and I are on the same time and my parents are 2 hours ahead. I really need the world to figure this out because it is TOO CONFUSING!

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