That’s right, just as the title suggests, I’m officially in Colombia. I had a week long orientation at Stony Point, New York, which was so incredibly awesome. I got to reconnect with YAVs I had already met, and made plenty of new friends as well. One of the coordinators of the YAV program, Lydia, said that we could consider ourselves failures if we did not meet/greet everyone at orientation. Well let me tell you, I succeeded with flying colors.
I should probably warn you that since I am now out and about in the world, I am going to flood my blog with pictures. This is probably good for all of you readers, because I’d imagine you’re about fed up with reading my massive paragraphs. Furthermore, pictures help give you a better idea of what my life looks like (of course it’s no where close to being with me, but hey, it’s better than nothing!) Without further adieu, let’s begin!!
For starters, the coolest activity we got to do at orientation was to help paint a homeless shelter at a church:
This isn’t to say we didn’t do a bunch of other awesome things at orientation, but I signed up for the YAV program to go out into the world and serve. Sitting in a room for 8 or so hours and being talked at was educational, yes. However, it’s not really what I was looking for out of the YAV program (obviously).
As we departed from orientation (at 3:00 a.m. might I add) we got stranded at the airport for about 9 hours due to some issues with needing a visa that we didn’t have:
So yeah, right off the bat we are being conditioned to deal with hardships as they come in their many different shapes and forms throughout our YAV year.
We ended up getting into Bogotá around 8:00 p.m. Colombian time, and from there met up with our site coordinator and went back to our hotel and immediately fell asleep. For our first full day in Colombia, we got our visas!! (Which might I add I feel pretty cool having in my passport):
After that we went to the Colombian National Museum to educate ourselves on Colombian culture as best we could, and walked around the city of Bogotá a bit to get acquainted:
Unfortunately I do not have a picture to describe how my Spanish is going. If I did, it would probably be a picture of a nuclear bomb, or something of the sort. Anything I mentioned previously about being decently confident in my Spanish ability, forget it. I will be the first to say that my Spanish is awful. Thankfully, we have our site coordinator, Sarah (who lives in Barranquilla, Colombia), with us for the next two and a half weeks, or I would be screwed. I would say that I am able to communicate basic needs, introduce myself and who I am, and speak about “small talk” items. Anything outside of that, I struggle severely with.
And don’t even get me started on understanding the people speaking. They all speak so incredibly fast that I’m lucky to catch every other word. Most of the time I can get the just of the conversation, but in no way am I able to pick up specifically what they are saying, with emotion, humor, and all. On a positive note, after just a day and a half I can already tell a difference in the speed I’m able to think in Spanish, as well as the speed at which I’m able to comprehend it. My brain feels like it’s in shock for at least half the day. I like to think that’s because it’s transforming into super Spanish learning mode, but it’s probably just overwhelmed.
In other good news, I am so excited and just feel at peace to have finally started my YAV year. Any nerves or fears I had are gone. At this point, I’m just absolutely loving life, and am trying to learn as much about the Colombian way of life as possible. At orientation we had a great speaker tell us that God is in the places where we show weakness. He is there to support us where we need it most. So I’ve just been consciously acknowledging my weaknesses (there’s a lot of them) in this new environment I’m living in, and trusting in God for support. After just over a week in the YAV program I have already learned a life lesson that I knew before, but never lived. You have to trust in God for everything, with everything, because doing otherwise will result in all sorts of fear. Even though I don’t know who my host family is (still), I’m hardly able to communicate, and I barely have a clue about what my job entails, I have not a shred of fear, because I know God will take care of it all.