Orientation Day 1

I was lucky to have a roommate, because my phone (aka my alarm clock) died in the middle of the night. Having gone to bed so late, I would definitely have missed the beginning of training if my kindly roommate hadn’t woken me up.

Breakfast for all the new teachers was a buffet held in a small dining room. I quickly scarfed down my first Colombian arepa (a sort of cornmeal pancake filled with cheese), along with some eggs and delicious jugo (juice).

[I learned about the amazing-ness that is jugo when I studied abroad in Ecuador. Unlike the thin, over-sweet juice generally found in the U.S., juice in Ecuador is just blended-up fruit. All the fruit is fresh and there are a gazilion kinds and combinations to choose from and it is served practically everywhere and at every meal. Colombia seems to have the same – we got jugo with every meal today – and I couldn’t be more pumped about it.]

After breakfast we all filed into a large room, were greeted by a group of regional coordinators and directors of Volunteers Colombia, and training began! We started by doing an icebreaker during which we had quick conversations with other teachers, then jumped straight into the training. The topics we covered included an introduction about Volunteers Colombia and SENA, a workshop about inter-cultural communication, and a discussion of the Colombian civil war and peace process.

After the last of the training sessions my three roommates and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was my first time being outside of the hotel, and it was great to finally see at least a little piece of Colombia.

Our hotel is located in an upscale (though somewhat commercial and hectic) neighborhood called Usaquén. There is a big mall and lots of shops and restaurants, including all sorts of American staples, like McDonalds and TGI Fridays, right across the street.

We’re near the edge of the city, so from the street we could watch the sunset reflecting off the clouds and the mountains that surround Bogotá. There is certainly no shortage of nice views here!

Our hotel courtyard and the city beyond
Our hotel courtyard and the mountains beyond
Mall, Usaquen, Bogota
The mall and the mountains

We stopped at a cart on the street and bought an arepa stuffed with chicken to share. I think I’m getting addicted already.

A bicycle arepa cart

There were tons of little carts and stalls selling different things.

Fresh juice on the street; I will definitely be back!
Fresh juice on the street; I’m definitely coming back
Fútbol jerseys for sale in the median
Fútbol jerseys for sale in the median

After the walk we returned to the hotel for dinner, and after dinner I was too tired to do anything but go to my room and go to sleep. Overall it was a good first day!

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