Finding Myself in Bogotá

The Daily Post asked:

Life is a series of beginnings and endings. We leave one job to start another; we quit cities, countries, or continents for a fresh start; we leave lovers and begin new relationships. What was the last thing you contemplated leaving? What were the pros and cons? Have you made up your mind? What will you choose?

The very last thing I left behind, I had no say in the matter. Actually, had I chosen not to leave the repercussions would have been too heavy to deal with, so naturally, I packed up my things and got on that plane. 

A year abroad in a foreign country is something you can never actually be prepared for. When I left for Colombia last July, I would never have imagined that I would feel the way I do about Bogotá in comparison to sweet, sweet T&T. There is never a day that I don’t think about my time there. There is never a day I don’t stop and say, “I miss you, Bogotá.”

In those eleven months I found something really important. I was a teaching assistant at a public university. I made a lot of great memories with great friends but the most amazing part of the experience was how much I loved my job. I also taught Business English which taught me  how much I really loved waking up at 4am in 8 degree weather to get ready to teach a 7am class. There is absolutely nothing like delivering a great lesson and seeing how students improve. My impact on my students, not just as a teacher but as a person, still overwhelms me to this day. Almost every time I taught I class, they would thank me and tell me what a great teacher I was but they didn’t have to say it. I saw it in the way they were able to understand and used the language and grammar with even more conviction.

My last class at one of the offices was bittersweet. They really didn’t want to see me go. We spent an hour or so after the class talking and laughing (in English, of course) as though they didn’t have work to get done. It’s building relationships like those that was so hard to say goodbye to.

I really felt like I was doing something worthwhile and I’d be lying if I said that I got it right every single time but for the most part, I always wanted to be there even when the task was frustrating. Even when I didn’t want to get up at 4am, I wanted to. Even when I didn’t want to plan my lesson and was unprepared for class, I wanted to.

Just like people, things change … The only constant in life is change. Coming back to finish my final year should feel better than this – graduation looms in the not too distant future – but the truth is it doesn’t feel so great. I try to keep telling myself that at least at the end of it Bogotá is still there waiting for me. But you never know with these kinds of things. Will it be the same?

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