|I’ve only been in Colima since Saturday but it feels like such a long time ago. So much has happened in a week and I’ve met so many different people. After a long overnight bus I arrived in Colima where I was met by Lety, the lady who I will be staying with for the year. She has a daughter who has just started uni, so it’s good to have someone about the same age around. I also met the dog, Nico and the two parrots… it’s going to be weird living with so many pets! The house is nice and I have a room on the ground floor with my own bathroom which I’m obviously really pleased about. I’m really centrally located here near the bus terminal and can get to the campuses and the town centre really easily.
I started work pretty much straight away after arriving and finding my bearings at the weekend! I haven’t seen that much of the town, but it has a nice central plaza and some pretty gardens with lots of stalls on the street. It’s hot hot hot here, but still the Mexicans insist on wearing jeans all the time! It’s quite small but I think there’ll be enough to keep me occupied. The staff sorted out my timetable and have given me Mondays off so I can travel round the country with the other English students at the weekend. I’m working in three campuses around the town and giving English conversation classes, and helping make resources for their self access centres when I don’t have any students. It’s going quite well, I’ve decided to make worksheets for Beyonce and Killers tunes this week. Means I can sit there listening to music when I don’t have students! At first it was really difficult to find my way around. I was never quite sure if I was getting on the right bus or not as the destinations are painted on the windscreen and a bit confusing. I got completely lost going to Coquimatlan, the campus furthest away from me. It was only supposed to be a 20 min journey, but I didn’t see the uni out of the window, so we drove straight past it and out into the back of beyond! I asked the bus driver but it was too late, I had to wait an hour for the bus to go to the end of the line and back! I spoke to him for the whole time though and he even let me off paying the fare because he felt so sorry for me!
I’ve only had a few students so far as the classes aren’t timetabled, so people just come along if they feel like chatting, it’s all very informal. At one of the campuses my little room is full of bean bags! But the people are SO friendly. They’re a real mix of ages, some are lecturers from other departments, some are retired women taking up English, and of course students. But it’s good to have a mix! All the students I have had want to show me their town and take me out so hopefully they’ll show me all the good places to go. They can’t really understand my English very well as they’re used to American films and their Mexican tutors have American accents when they teach them in English. One girl said to me, you sound like you’re from Britain or somewhere, 5 mins after I had told her I was English. I don’t think a lot of them get the concept of where England is in the world or that English actually originates from there! American influence definitely dominates here.
I have a major problem… getting people to say my name. It’s impossible. They just don’t get it, and then say ‘write it down’… which I know will only complicate the situation. I have a little script now that goes something like, my name is Siobhan, yes I know it’s very difficult to pronounce, no it’s Irish, yes I am English. All very confusing! One of my student’s renamed me Susie… hopefully it won’t stick!
University life is very different here as the students are pretty much all from Colima and live at home. So there isn’t really much of the going out and socialising culture that immediately comes to mind when you think of university life! I think they all get together at weekends though and have beach trips etc, so living for the weekend here!
Another thing which the students are obsessed about is finding me a Mexican boyfriend. I know the other English girls here have had this and also the girls in Spain, it’s so weird. When you introduce yourself, the usual, what’s your name? How old are you? Do you have a boyfriend? So random! Even an old woman I was talking to at a bus stop was like ‘ah you’re English, are you here to marry?’ to which I replied ‘no I ‘m here to improve my Spanish’, and she just stared at me in shock like I was a right weirdo!
The ideas that the students have of England are so outdated. I wanted to get an idea of what kind of English music they like, but the main responses I got were The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix… not quite what I was expecting. They introduced me to their ‘banda’ music and couldn’t believe it when I told them there’s nothing like that in England and they don’t play Spanish songs on the radio because people wouldn’t understand the lyrics.
Rambled a lot, but so much random stuff happens every day here! End of my first week in Colima, but looking forward to seeing more of the city, trying out more weird food combos (they LOVE jelly here?!) and exploring Mexico!