In Comparison

Earlier this year I woke up to the skyline of Dubai with the Burj Khalifa in the distance. I was tanning 1000 metres up in the Transylvanian mountains after a long day of teaching at camp. And I was riding a Ferris wheel from the 1950’s in Eastern Europe in the pouring rain while looking at soviet style apartments that lined the horizon.

This is my first time on this side of the hemisphere. I am currently watching my friends send me autumn pictures with a pallet of orange and browns at the end of October. I check outside the window, still green and blooming. It’s over 30 degrees some days. Baleadas or platanos are for breakfast after my first lessons of the day, and then lunch is usually some sort of meat and rice, or tajadas, enchiladas and the such. I write ‘I eat fish and chips with my best friend after school’ on the board when I give an example of my timeline at school to my children. They point it out, say it’s cool.

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I don’t really miss Brexit Britain. I do miss the gourmet microwaveable Tesco finest meals, and hot running water, maybe even some pate on toast, but I love it here. Even when I’m sweating like a hot mess over a gas stove trying to make bland pasta for the second time and cursing that I will never attempt to cook while I’m here. So it’s pretty much the same as University. Except that I sometimes hang around with ten year olds after school as their family keeps offering me food. I walk home stuffed and sticky from the heat. And then I get home and the water isn’t on.

I actually feel rewarded after a day of teaching, rather than writing another rushed essay on linguistics and dreading whether this time it will be below a B grade. I taught the word ‘proud’ the other day. One of my students came up to me and told me that she is proud of me for being a good teacher. And I told her that I am proud of her too.

I put off teaching for so long. I didn’t want to be that cliché English graduate who becomes a teacher. I wanted to be more ‘cool’, spinning on a chair in an editorial office, checking for errors in texts. I still do that, correcting the perfect tense and spellings in notebooks, but minus the crippling knee pain and eye soreness from having a 9 to 5 office job. Been there, done that. I am Miss Andreea now, and I own it.

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To whoever is reading this, probably wanting to know what it’s like to live here and whether they should dedicate their time and resources to come here, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you: it’s insanely rewarding but it comes with its own dangers.  San Pedro Sula, the city next to Cofradia, is notorious for its murder rate. You constantly stick out here and you get stared at a lot. But I assure you, the community is friendly, the scenery is gorgeous and the kids will love you from the get go.

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(P.S, it’s amazing what you can teach with just a printed sheet, a whiteboard and some penguin roleplay. I’m pretty sure the words ‘incubate the egg’ is forever stuck in my student’s mind. As well as the spelling of ‘reproduction.’ And Grammar lessons are To be or not to be, because that is always the question!)

Cheers for reading, yours sincerely,

Miss Andreea, 5th Grade Teacher.

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