I had class yesterday at la UASD (the biggest university in the country). We were about an hour in to class when we heard yelling out side. We didn't know what it was so we just ignored it. Later there was a big bang and someone went to see what was going on. While we were waiting a student turned around and asked me if I knew how to run fast. Confused at this question I asked what was going on. She said "hay una huelga afuera." That didn't help much because I didn't know what huelga was. Another student saw that I was confused and told me the key word I was looking for; strike. The teacher told us that the rest of class was canceled but that we should stay in the classroom until it was over. But, few minutes later, many students began to leave. Not knowing what to do, we followed their lead. We went downstairs and outside to a covered patio where many students had already congregated. We were asking everyone whether it was safe to leave because we didn't see anything dangerous going at that moment. Some students were running for the closest exit but other students were telling us that that was the most dangerous exit to go through. One of my friends from class told us it was safest to go out the southern exit which was abuot a 5 minute walk from where we were but since we didn't know what was going on down there, we followed another Dominican girl out the closer exit. We had evidently made the right choice because we later found out that the streets outside of the southern exit were abandoned with small fires and trash everywhere. We got back to our exchange school safely and were advised not to go to class at la UASD until the strike was over.
The employees at our exchange school were telling us that we would be able to go to class today (friday) so my friend Brittany and I got on a guagua (city bus) to go to la UASD. We had just gotten to campus and the guagua was slowing down to let some students off the bus. I happened to be looking out the window towards the campus entrance when I saw a guy winding up about to throw a gigantic rock our guagua. The next thing I knew everyone was down on the ground and people were throwing rocks at our bus. The chofer took off and sped all the way down to the shore where the Dominicans on the bus told us to take another guagua back to our exchange school. We didn't know if it was safe to get on another guagua but we called the employees at FLACSO ( our exchange school) and they told us it was safe as long as we weren't near la UASD. The nice thing is, I didn't have class today but I'm just glad we didn't get hurt.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Last weekend I and ten of my friends took a bus 2 hours north of Santo Domingo to a town called La Vega where the biggest and most popular parade takes place. Carnaval is a extravagant celebration that happens every Sunday in February in Santo Domingo, Santiago, and La Vega. In the parade there are groups from most of the larger towns in the Dominican Republic. They represent themselves by wearing colorful costumes like these called diablo cojuelos (co-h-oo-eh-los). There are many different masks, music, and dances that each group does. In addition to this, each diablo carries a balloon-like object in their hands called a vejiga. If you get too close to them in the street and you're not paying attention, they will hit you in the butt as hard as they can! So you have to be very careful about where you are. It was so fun to be a part of Dominican culture! I have lots more of these pictures on facebook. Follow this link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=197043&id=600835217
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
At the beginning of the month, I joined a gym with some of my friends. It's in a big, fancy hotel right on the ocean. They have personal trainers, a sauna, a steam room, and showers. But best of all they have a roof top pool that we can also use. It's a little expensive but worth it for everything you get with the membership. I try to go every other day to get as much use out of it as possible! We can also bring one guest for one day each month, but they don't really pay attention and i think the trainers like us so we bring our friends to the pool every weekend! oops :)
To see all the pictures from my second month here, click this link!
I'm taking a class called Language and Culture where we go on little field trips to museums and local markets. For the first field trip we went to a pedestrian street called El Conde. There Dominicans sell paintings, jewelry and anything else you can imagine. At the end of El Conde, we toured an ancient cathedral, a cigar museum and an amber museum. I think the cigar museum was my favorite because the employees made every cigar hand and we got to see how they did it. They make about 300 in one day. We also went to a local market where all the produce was so cheap! Even though everyone tried to rip us off, we knew what they were up to. We had to go around and ask the venders about their jobs, where they got their produce, why they chose this profession...things like that. The last table my group went to had bottles of different liquids in them. They turned out to be medicines for the flu and even cancer. This vender told us that the medicine for cancer was being studied at some universities in the U.S. We were skeptical about if it worked but he said it did. Who knows. Never know what you'll find here!
Last week I started teaching Enlglish to 4th and 5th gradersat a boarding school for girls called Hogar de Doña Chucha. (Doña Chucha's House) This school is for girls who come from troubled homes. They are not troubled themselves, but their parents or caregivers are not capable of taking care of them. The girls are really nice and eager to learn but they are crazy. The older ones are a little better behaved than the younger ones but I like them all. Today I did a lesson on the alphabet and numbers and at the end we played bingo which they liked. But they were already asking me how long I was staying and when I was leaving to go back to the United States. I feel bad that I'm only going to teach for 3 months and leave because I feel like they've had so many people in their lives who come and go so quickly. Hopefully I can come back and visit though.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
The majority of people here don't own cars so there are many forms of public transportation here. First, there are carro publicos (public cars). They are privately owned cars, usually old toyotas that have 4 different routes that you can ride for 20 pesos (55 cents) each time. No one follows road laws here so they fit 2 people in the front and 4 in the back in order to get as much money as they can. There usually are no seat belts or upholstering and usually you have to open the doors with a paper clip because the handle has been ripped out. These cars are ok for the day time but at night it is more dangerous so I usually take a taxi. These public cars can confuse foreigners because they have taxi signs on top of their cars but they're not actually taxis. They just like to pretend I guess. Then there are guaguas (city busses). They have numbers in the windshield corresponding to the route they are driving. I and my classmates have to take them to get to every school we go to. It also costs 20 pesos per ride. There are also guaguitas which are little 10 person vans. Just like the carro publicos, they try to fit as many people in their vehicles as they can. But it only costs 15 pesos to ride.
A few days ago my friends and I got on a guaguita to go to INTEC which is a school that's 45 minutes away. It was already really packed but we were afraid another van wouldn't come for a while and we were already late. So we all got in and I ended up having to sit on an old man's lap because there was litterally no room. When I say no room I mean there were almost 30 people in a van that can comfortably fit 10. It was interesting to say the least. But that's part of the experience! Good thing I dropped that class at INTEC.
Side Note: to see all my January pictures of the Dominican Republic go to this link!
A few weekends ago a bunch of us traveled 4 hours up north to a surf town called Cabarete. We had a 5 day weekend so we decided to take advantage of it! We stayed at a hotel for 5oo pesos for 2 nights which is which is about 15 dollars. The hotel was just a short walk from a resort beach where we spent our first day. The second day we took motoconchos (motorcycle taxis) to another more secluded beach called playa encuentra. This beach was geared toward surfers because the waves are really good there. There were a few surfing schools there and I almost took lessons but didn't have enough money. Maybe next time. At night we went out to eat at dominican restaurants because the touristy ones were very expensive. A lot of the restaurants and dance clubs were in a line a long the beach which was really cool and so much fun! If you want to see my pictures, go to this link!
for those of you who don't know how to use facebook, after you click the link, click on the first picture and then click on the next button in the top right hand corner to go to the next one.
Monday, February 1, 2010
I live in a small apartment with my host mom and her 25 year old daughter. My host mom has another son and daughter who are both married. Some of the other students I've talked to say that their host parents don't put much thought into the food they cook. But my host mom makes amazing food for me every night and asks me multiple times if I've had enough. She works as an accountant in the President's office all week and spends time with her children and grandchildren on the weekends. She always offers to drive me and my friends to where ever we're going and shows me around the city so I can become familiar with the city. I have my own tv and my own bathroom which is rare around here. I also have recently discovered the free internet that occasionally shows up in my room! My host sister is very nice and speaks English which is helpful when I'm at a loss for Spanish words! Soon she says she's going to take me to get my hair done so hopefully i'll learn how to keep it straight in this insane heat and humidity. Over all, I'm happy with everything and I think I lucked out!
Many of you have been wondering what my classes are like here. I'm taking six classes but my schedule is still not finalized. I am taking classes a t three different universities. The first one is called Bonó and I'm taking Social History of the Dominican Republic. It's 3.45 hours long which seems never ending but we do activities that relate to the material so time passes quickly. But there is a lot of reading for that class. All in Spanish of course which takes even more time, but I'm getting used to it. I'm taking 3 classes at my "home school" FLACSO which is run by CIEE, the program I traveled with. There I'm taking a Living and Learning seminar where we learn more about underlying issues in Dominican Culture, a Spanish Conversation Class, and a Language and Culture class where we learn about things like Dominican authors and common everyday language. The last school I'm attending is one of the biggest universities on the island called UASD. They are extremely disorganized and slow to respond or help in any academic situation. I had my first class today and found out it doesn't exist. So I'm back to looking for a sixth class. So far I like all my classes. I came here not knowing much about the country so I'm learning new things everyday about the history and language. That's all for now. I'll adding another post about transportation and my host family soon!