Sunday, February 14, 2010

Know thyself

So, one week has passed in Colima. Twenty more of those to go. 

Someone wrote on my Facebook wall yesterday: "Bethany, you should be used to moving new places by now. Don't worry; things will get better." And I wrote back something that I feel and have felt very strongly this past week: Yeah, I'm used to moving. It's the staying part that is proving difficult. 

The first day here was fine: I flew in to a strange airport; found my way to public transport; travelled three hours by road to a second strange city; found my way to my lodgings and went to sleep. The next day: I found my way to the University; found each office I needed to know about; explored the campus and the surrounding areas; ate adventurously and went to sleep. It was Day Three when the loneliness began to weigh on my, and by Day Four, I was so desperate for an escape I looked into plane tickets out of here. 

The food here is pretty good. Cheap, interesting, flavourful. But I can't enjoy it because: eating alone really sucks.

It sucks more when you are consistently eating alone at the same place, just because you finally figured out which words on their menu don't mean stir-fried cow brain, and you begin to read your own self-pity in the familiar faces of the person serving you your usual order. Eating, because it happens alone, has become a chore. 

Going to class is another, more burdensome, chore. Lectures start late because the prof or students don't care to be in class on time, and there is never a notice if a class has been cancelled or moved. The model of learning often involves forced participation by way of the students taking turns regurgitating last nights readings. This way, the prof ensures that everyone did them, and that those who didn't at least hear the regurgitations of them and can get the basic idea. The profs expect us not to do the readings, and so they do not prepare a lecture that is any addition to them. They can afford them selves that luxury, because attendance is obligatory.

Yes, that's right. I missed the first week of classes because I wanted to attend the graduating class of 2010's convocation ceremony, in Ecuador. Nobody told me this when I asked if I could arrive a week late, but I need to attend 80% of classes any given month in any class I am in at the University of Colima, or I lose the right to take the midterm. Thus, I fail it. Thus, I started out by pre-emptively failing midterms, because I missed the first week across the board, and also missed some classes the second week because I didn't know my schedule yet (the University of Colima does not have an online Academic Calendar or Academic Timetable, you have to do all that in person, by yourself because they do not have academic advisors). 

It's basically academic hell, especially when I think back fondly to friendly University of King's College, and all the work Kelly Porter in the Journalism office, Tara Buksaitis in the Registrar's, and Sharlene Salter in Student Accounts did on my behalf last year so that I would be able to stay in school and not go broke or crazy. I want to send them a fruit basket and ask them to take me back. 

And look: 

I started this blog entry to talk about the pretty things:
the weather, 
and going to the pool with a fellow ex-pat of multiple countries, 
and the parade of riders on horseback that held up traffic in the downtown yesterday, 

and the Valentines Day vendors who clogged up the sidewalks while the horses clogged up the streets,

and the flowers, fountains and fruits all around.
 But I couldn't, because all those things were just a distraction from the dominating narrative: the unbearableness of Being -- right now -- Alone. 

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