Back in France

I’ve been in Niort, France for just under three weeks, but it feels as though I’ve been here for much longer. I am completely settled in, I have my phone, I set up my bank account, and I began work. I’ve found my regular boulangerie, my grocery store, and my favorite cafe.

It’s been quite a smooth transition, easing into life in France. This isn’t my first time here, and I speak French, so I know that helps. I lived in Cannes, on the Côte d’Azur, for four months in 2008 while I was studying abroad. It was an amazing time, and I’ve always loved France and the French language.

There are some funny little nuances of life here, like the fact that I have a sink in my bedroom and the toilet and shower are each in their own separate rooms in my apartment. Also, stores always close during lunch time, and most places are closed after 7pm and all day Sunday.

Houses along the river in Niort

One of the most notable differences I’ve observed between Niort and Bogotá is the driving. it’s so crazy; people here use the crossways, and drivers always wave the right of way to pedestrians. So even if I’m crossing the street not in a crossway, cars always stop for me. That almost never happens in Bogotá.

So perhaps you may be wondering, Dear Readers, why did I leave Colombia to return to France? One reason is because I want to relearn French. I’ve lost a lot of it after not speaking it for three years and learning Spanish during that time. I understand people just fine when they speak to me, and although I can make myself understood, I struggle to form grammatically correct sentences.

Along with my goal of perfecting my French, I am determined not to lose my Spanish in the process. Luckily, one of my roommates is Spanish, so I’m able to maintain my Spanish by speaking with her, and I’m going to Barcelona for ten days in two weeks.

I also decided to come to France because I was accepted into the Teaching Assistant Program, which is what I am doing here. I work 12 hours a week in two different primary schools, and I teach kids ages 6-11, which is great experience because it’s an age range I haven’t really worked with before.

And finally, how could I pass up an opportunity to live in Europe, with a job that allows me plenty of time to travel and to write? I couldn’t. So even though I sometimes really miss Colombia, I know I can go back someday; I know I made the right decision to come, and I’m really happy that this is what I’m doing now. I love being back in France, one of my favorite countries, and I’m excited to explore new places.

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The Long Goodbye

So I’ve left Colombia. I am writing this post from Niort, France, the city I will be living for the next seven months. I left Colombia about three weeks ago, spent some time with my family in Pittsburgh, and then came here.

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Bogotá: A Photo Essay

I’ve been wanting to go out and take photos of Bogotá for a while now, to remember the streets that I know so well, and I finally did. Most of these photos are from the northern part of Bogotá, and therefore does not give an accurate representation of the whole city, although some of the people in the pictures can be found all over the city, such as the flower sellers and street vendors. The rest of the photos are mostly of places that I often see, or are important to me, or that I find amusing. Enjoy!

Street vendor

Buseta along Septima

Typical brick buildings

Armed guard-you can spot these guys all over the city

View of the mountains from La Candelaria

Avocado stand

Flower sellers along the road

Another flower seller, offering his goods to people in their cars

Cyclists using one of the many bike paths in Bogotá

Exito, one of the main supermarket chains in Colombia

Umbrella Art outside of Centro Comercial Andino

Typical sign to label the streets

Bogotá Graffiti

Street Performers near Usaquén

Bogotá Beer Company (aka BBC)

A CAI-Police Station

Woman wearing a surgical face mask-not uncommon around Bogotá

Colonial-style architecture

Calle 100 Bridge

These shoes are simply too fantastic not to share (in Usaquén)

Fuzzy red plant that I see all over Bogotá and really like

Buying tickets at the Transmilenio Station

I will never understand why or how this sign came to be, but it makes me laugh every time

Cooooooofee Express

Bogotá is so beautiful when the sun is shining

Bucaramanga, a Hidden Treasure

Photo Credit yonolatengo

Okay, now that I’ve caught your attention with this title, let me contradict myself by saying that Bucaramanga is not at all hidden, although it is a treasure.

Bucaramanga is the capital of the Department of Santander, in the Northeast of Colombia, and the city with the sixth largest population in the country. Continue reading

Top 5 Things I Miss from the Coast

Flag of Barranquilla

Today is my last day in Barranquilla; I go back to Bogotá tonight. The next time I’ll be here will be for CARNAVALES! I can’t wait. I’m excited to go back to Bogotá, but there are some things from Barranquilla that I have really missed, so I want to share my top five.  Continue reading

Op-Ed for Colombia Reports

Juan Valdez workers forced to clean up the mess of protestors

Today I walked home along Carrera Septima in Bogotá and I was angry and appalled. Buildings along the street were covered with graffiti and paint splatter from students protesting the Ley 30 Reform, and the workers of these places had to clean up their mess. I was so furious, I came home immediately and wrote an Op-Ed to the student protestors of Ley 30 Reform for Colombia Reports. You can read the full article here: Dear student protestors.

Sundays at Usaquén

Ciclovía in Bogotá

We always try to wake up early on Sundays in time for ciclovía, Bogotá’s bike path on one of the main streets that is closed to cars from 7 am to 2 pm. Usually we walk, instead of riding bikes, about 45 blocks to a little borough of Bogotá called Usaquén. Continue reading

Back in Colombia!

I’ve been back in a Colombia for two weeks and have been extremely busy looking for jobs and apartment hunting. Thus far, the job search has been going much better than the apartment hunt. I think I grossly underestimated how much I can expect to pay for a decent apartment in a good location. I have a few more prospects that I am going to check out this weekend, and one actually is well within my price range, but I’m a bit skeptical.

Bogotá from Monserrate

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