Week 1 of classes!
Trip Start Jul 27, 2012
18Trip End Dec 17, 2012
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My day began well enough as I managed to get myself into the gym and locate the cycle studio. I have seen the bikes before but never used them. They are the ones where the handle bars also move from side to side. I had expected to have to work out what was going on by watching the instructor and I was right. It was all conducted in Spanish. However, once he realised I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about he did come and talk to me during the class to make sure I was okay. But he could see that I pretty much knew what I was doing. Today was very much an introduction about setting up the bike and the different positions you needed to use. Nonetheless as soon as we started applying resistance I was really struggling! I never find spinning easy but adding altitude into the equation along with my lack of fitness and I think I could be in for a hard time over the next few weeks as I get used to living at altitude
I came straight back home after cycle tec as I had a few hours to kill until my first class so I had a shower and some breakfast and caught up on some Olympic action. I was just getting into the cycling with Laura Trott when it was time to head off again. I had no problem locating the classroom and was pleased to find 2 other people I know there. Additionally there were a few other international students but the rest were all Mexican. However, the teacher made it very clear that the course would be taught in English and anyone that had a problem understanding should not take the course! It makes a change for me to feel at home with English as the preferred language of instruction. I think I may have underestimated how exhausting it is to try to get by with negligible Spanish. In a way it feels similar to when I was living in Ethiopia because there I was also trying to manage work and day to day living in a country where people didn’t speak a lot of English. It doesn’t matter quite so much when you don’t have to try to negotiate everyday things like grocery shopping or attending classes. For example when I was in Nepal I was just able to relax and not worry about communicating if I didn’t want to, but here I have no choice
How wrong I was! The instructor spoke for around 45minutes in Spanish and then everyone started to get up and leave. I was under the impression that the class was due to last for an hour and a half. When I asked the girl sitting next to me what was happening she told me that the instructor was not prepared to teach the class as only a few people had yoga mats and blocks. It seems we are expected to provide our own! This is very frustrating as I have my own back in England so I am not prepared to buy another set. However, the same girl told me not to worry and that she would try to find someone who could lend me a yoga mat. So I will go to the next class and see what happens, but actually I did not warm to that particular instructor. The guy taking cycle tec was great and so was the Zumba instructor
Zumba was the start of a pretty full on day. I had 30 minutes to shower and get to my first class at 10am. It was then back to back classes until 2.30pm when I had a break! I did manage to leave classes for a toilet break and rushed out in between classes to grab another bottle of water. My next shock came when I went along to International Relations theory at 4pm. I was hoping that I would not have to do this class and in fact it seems that there will be an additional basic Spanish class so the issue that arose doesn’t really matter. We all arrived and noticed that all the international students were sitting on one side of the room and the Mexican students on the other. The professor arrived and immediately greeted us in Spanish and continued to speak in Spanish. Feeling a little alarmed we all looked around at each other until some brave soul asked in Spanish if we were in the correct classroom. It transpired that we were indeed in the right room but the course was to be taught in Spanish! Later we discovered that the previous professor had left and her replacement was unable to teach the course in Spanish. However, it appeared that nobody thought to inform the international department of the change!!So now there are a whole load of international students that need to find another course to do
Reflecting on all of this has made me think about the audience for this blog. Primarily it is a record for me to chart my time in Mexico and be able to look back and see just how I change during the 5 months I am here. Of course it is also so that my friends and family can share in some of my experiences. But additionally it is for any students that are considering coming here on an exchange programme. For that reason I think it is important to say that Rachel has had no issues with her courses. She has been able to attend the classes that she was expecting to attend and has also signed up to jewellery making classes and a pottery class with no problem. I don’t want to give the impression that all is doom and gloom because that is far from the truth. But I think it is important to realise that not everything is plain sailing here. But there are people to help. This afternoon I asked one of the Mexican assistants if she could tell me how to get print credits and where we could print off our assignments. She went with me and took me through the process step by step so now I know what I need to do.
Some of the professors want us to hand in hard copies whilst some want things sent electronically
So now I can report that I have successfully uploaded my first piece of homework ahead of tomorrow’s class! I have also finalised my timetable. It is not ideal but my priority is to learn Spanish while I am here so I am just going to have to make the best of the courses that are not my first choice! Unfortunately although there is another basic Spanish course as I was told there would be…..it is going to be timetabled at the same time as the other one….so no help to me as it means I can’t do 2 of my first choice courses! As I said it is not ideal for me but I will do my best to deal with it. On a brighter note I have been able to go back to Body Balance so won’t have to worry about managing yoga after all
I am so happy about being able to access these exercises classes free of charge. It is also so easy living this close to the campus. I am gauging my fitness by how exhausted I feel climbing the steps over the train line on the way to campus! Today I virtually skipped up the steps but was puffing a little at the top…a vast improvement from my first effort 2 weeks ago! Some days, depending on my timetable, I climb those steps 3 times in each direction so it’s a good measure of how I am feeling. After the last cycle tec class I was reminded of my blog in Nepal when I described my physical state at the end of my first day of trekking. It seems that here I am trying to improve my fitness at altitude by working out in the gym instead of trekking but the end result is the same…….it is hard work and a real struggle!
The weather is not helping either. It has been very warm and quite humid since I arrived, but the past 2 days it has been overcast and the thunders storms have got worse. When it rains it absolutely buckets down! It seems we have been lucky until now as this is the rainy season but we have been lucky as it had only been raining at night……but now the rainfall has increased. Yesterday when I got back after classes I just couldn’t be bothered to venture out again as the weather was so depressing. I am a little concerned that I am not being very sociable but the weather combined with the late start ( nothing seems to happen before 10pm) means that I would rather stay in my room and catch up with the Olympics! There is a party happening tonight…..not too far away but it is raining and also doesn’t start until 10pm. I would quite like to go but I am not sure I can be bothered
Well in the end I went and had a good time. It was fun meeting so many new people and the place where these guys are staying is literally a castle!! I will go back and take some photos for another episode but for now I need to finish because I took some photos of my route to the uni and in the gym so I’d better get it uploaded whilst I have a minute!