Archives For September 2017

Last 1 month of my daily routine in weekdays was I wake up about 7 in the morning, go to the school, come back to the house 4 or 5. Then prepare dinner with my host family and have dinner about 6. After that, from 7 to 10 or 11 for 3 to 4 hours until I sleep is my free time. Basically I study in the free time.

My style to spend time on the weekends, I mostly sleep until 10am, then doodling for a while. And lunch time comes up and have lunch. After lunch, I usually take a little nap. And then study, have dinner, and study again. When I have free time, I either sleep or study.

Sometimes my host family asks me why I don’t go out on weekends, and just sleeping a lot. But I don’t think I’m sleeping a lot. I can say I’m sleeping quite enough though. These days I just wanna relax at home, when I don’t have a class. I guess I would be busier next year, so I prefer to sleep enough while I am not so busy yet. That’s my recent style.

My way of learning language ​​is as simple as studying English before. I anyway watch movies and TV series on Netflix over and over only in Spanish. My recent favourite is Narcos. I have just watched 2 laps so far.

Other studies, I memorize verb conjugation and words.

Speaking of my Spanish level so far, I feel it’s getting better than the first week. Somehow I can understand what people are saying, and also I can tell at least what I want to say. But still a lot times, I can’t understand what people are talking at all by topics. Still long way to be much better.

The best result is I can be following word by word in listening what people are saying. So I could know what words I don’t understand. So I can review later. So I think it’s the best progress of study so far.


I feel fast that already 1month has passed since I came to Colombia.

My life here is to teaching English both at the local private school and the public school from Monday to Friday. Host mother works at public school, host father is at private school.

The main reason that I am here is I’m in charge to take care of the classes for two days  Tuesday and Wednesday by myself while he’s away to study. 10 years old, 11 years old, 12 years old, 14 years old, 15 years old class.

I’ve written in the former post, Columbia’s compulsory education is up to 15 years old, the 15-year-old is the oldest. As my sense, these students who are 15-year-old here seem to be 18 years old in Japan.

I stay at the private school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But other days are half for private school and half for public school.

I am mainly an assistant teacher in the classes of host mother. Recently it’s the exam period, so I’m helping to supervise the exam. Also a play event are coming up next months, so students are practicing play for the event. In those class, I teach pronunciation to students.

My host family has had 2 workers like me before. But both of them never taught at the public school. So I am the first one who teach at there.

I have the classes at the private school every week, some classes for 4 hours a week. Some of students don’t feel freshness, excitement, because I am not new anymore since they met 2 different foreigners. Students know I am just an assistant teacher, main teacher is away, I don’t understand Spanish well. So they don’t regard me that I am a teacher. Moreover most of them want to skip study English every my class and they ask me to play games, play soccer, basketball instead of study. So I am desperate to handle the classes every time.

On the other hand, at the public school, there is times 3 or 4 students compare with the private school, and they never had foreign teachers. So everyone seems to feel very freshness and curiosity at me. I can feel all students respect me and having limited time with me very importantly. Each class just can have one hour of my class each week. Those respects and good attitude make me feel very rewarding.

It’s sad that those who are given chances become more lazy than those who are not given.


I’m ashamed of myself that I didn’t know about Pablo Escobar and what happened in Colombia few decades ago until I watch Narcos on Netflix.

And I’m also ashamed of the education in my country. I’m not just criticizing teachers and the education that they didn’t teach me about it at all. But the almost biggest and darkest history in Colombia, why many Japanese people don’t know?
Speaking of me, I never taught about it and even I’ve never heard about the name of Pablo Escobar. Maybe because of I hadn’t been watching the news for few years back to my high school. And also I didn’t take World history class in high school, I took Japanese history instead.
Additionally speaking of Japanese people, when I told some of my friends and others about I’m going to Colombia, many of them didn’t know where is Colombia and don’t know about Colombia at all. Moreover some of them told me “Colombia is really dangerous! You need to be careful!” But sadly most of them don’t know about why they think Colombia is dangerous. They just heard some bad rumours. The worst answer was what is Colombia? Is it a country?
Moreover, when I told about I’m gong to Uruguay, most of my friends and others didn’t know where is Uruguay at all. Lately Uruguay sounds familiar with some Japanese, because of Jose Mujica’s visitation to Japan last year. But most of them don’t about Uruguay at all.
Maybe Japanese are more knowledgable about Asian countries.
But in spite of the curriculum of school, teachers of history or other teachers were supposed to teach, tell what happened in Colombia as adults who educate new generation for Japan. At least to tell about Pablo Escobar.
Educators are supposed to tell about the world situation and historical world history more, such as September 11 attack, Pablo Escobar and the latest thing is the situation of Venezuela. Not just following the text that is provided by the government. If educators stop being leaners, education would go out of use.
The government in my country is supposed to add more about South America into the education. I strongly think so. Otherwise how come global people that are required for big companies can be grown without the knowledge of world situation and history in this current era of rapid change.
How come Japanese people can follow the flow of the times with ignorance about the world?

Compulsory education in Colombia starts  4 years old, Kinder (kindergarten) or  could say grade 0. After that, grade 1, 5 years old to grade 11. Grade 11 is for 15 years old. If you pass all semesters, you can finish the school as 15 years old. And that’s it.

Speaking in Japan, Compulsory education is until 18 years old. And the time for 16 years old to 18 years old is blossom of youth! I learned a lot of things in that time. So when I heard the school system in Colombia, I was surprised and thought it’s thoughtful.

But in the reality, there is many students who are held back and stay back another year. But it’s really up to teachers. There’s many easy teachers who let all students pass.

I heard the government policy about education which is they want teachers to pass all students without caring scores. My opinion about it is if many students are held back every year, there will be a lot of students who stay back another year in each grade and the quality of education wouldn’t be equal and fair. It’s just my personal opinion though.

On the other hand, speaking on the side of teachers who are checking students’ mark severely and also thinking their future through the education, they think if let all students pass, students will lose their motivation of study and it’s not gonna for students’s future. Those teachers are taking that as a severe problem.



A week has passed since I came to Colombia.

I feel like that three weeks passed since I came. At the same time I feel like I have only been a week, I feel I’m getting used to be in this life here as well. Although my Spanish is still poor.

From Monday to Thursday, I work full-time from about 7am to 4pm. On Friday, the school finishes at 1pm. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I have classes by myself all day.

Until today, I had classes only older ages between 10 to 15 years old. But today, I could be in Kindergarden class for 2 hours for the first time.

First of all, I couldn’t understand Spanish terribly and I didn’t understand well what the teachers were saying and honestly I think I wasn’t helpful for them at all. I think I was a kind of a extra big baggage which is like an outsider Asian guy who doesn’t speak Spanish for teachers. I almost feel sorry for them.

But about ages 4, they prefer just talking what they want to talk than asking specific questions. So kids didn’t seem to care about my poor Spanish skill and they appeared to like me, they were hanging me and talking to me a lot. I played tag game, hide and seek and so on with them for almost an hour. I could feel again children are pure and so cute even I am in the outback of Colombia.

Some of the girls seemed to like me so much, and they were cling my legs, arms and my head too.

I truly feel I get better my Spanish quickly and want to understand what they are talking to me. So it’s gonna be much much more fun.

That was so fun and truly happy time to play with them.



Following the first visit to Uruguay, I was taken care of by Uruguay’s hospital for 2 times.

At the first time, I had a long cold before going on a trip, so I had to go for long journey with bad condition. And I arrived in Uruguay though a total of over 30 hours of transit, but I could’t remove air from my right ear on my plane, because my nose was clogged. So I got empyema. I refused to go to the hospital because I didn’t have overseas travel insurance but I imagined If the symptoms get worse and more severe, I wouldn’t enjoy my trip and the worst case, I wouldn’t be able to return to Canada. So I decided to go to a hospital.

Turning around a lot of hospitals, when I said that I don’t have any insurance, they taught me to go to the emergency at a public university hospital.

When I arrived at the emergency of University hospital (Hospital de Clinicas Dr.Manuel Quintela), I showed my passport, and told them that I don’t have any insurance or anything. Following the instruction of receptionist, I sat for the time and waited. I was so worried how much the cost is gonna be…

Wait about 30 minutes, I was called and I entered an examining room. There were 4 or 5 young weman were waiting for me I was surprised Do I need 4 or 5 doctor’s for my cold symptoms? But one of them was a doctor and others were practicum university students at the emergency. One person listened to my symptoms and that person explained to the other four people the symptoms, teaching how to write the chart, there were kinda nice people. It took times they filing out the chart and trying to find a thermometer. So while I was waiting for the procedure, I could have a chat with some of them.

And they told me the consultation fee is free! In Uruguay, consultation fee is free at public hospitals, even for foreigners!  Additionally they told me, the tuition of public university is all free for Uruguay citizens, even medical or low school. I truly thought Uruguay is a wonderful country.

By the way, the most of the medical students could speak English well, but the receptionist at the public hospital and others couldn’t.

Emergency of Public University hospital in Montevideo, Uruguay

From 08/31, I came to a small town called Pital in the district of Columbia’s Huila.

From the capital city of Bogota to the Neiva airport via the domestic flight. Pital is located  in southern Huila, 100 km further from the airport of Nea.
Approximately 3000 people live in this town. There is just 2 schools,  one is public and the other on is private school. This town are surrounded by mountains, and the nearest neighbor town is about 4 km away.

There is no Japanese, Asian people, even tourists are totally rarely visited.

I started to volunteer as a English teacher at the schools in this town.

I got here through the site called “workaway”.

The site called workaway is offering a system which is travellers such as a backpacker who provides a few hours of labor time and receive accommodation and meals for free from hosts.

When I was thinking about various things in Uruguay, I was searching for volunteer offers in Colombia by workaway and found the offer for this occasion.

A Colombian couple who are hosts of me, is a local Colombian English teacher. They want to give an opportunity to talk to English to people who speak English and from other countries for students whose English level is very low and luck of motivation about English, and keep students’ motivation up. The Colombian couple is trying to encourage local students to learn English for their future and country.

Personally, I want to see and learn various national education with this my own. For those my purpose, I thought that this is a very rare opportunity to be a part of member in the local school.

Some people may think volunteer is a kind of meaningful because no pay provided. But It’s really hard to observe a local school without connection in the community or country where you’re going, moreover if you are outsider for the community, that would be harder, because you are unfamiliar and don’t have trust from communities. In case you want to get pay for work at a public school, you would need to take a qualification of a teacher of that country.

In these days, you need to pay a high cost to a organization or management group for applying volunteer work. So this offer which is accommodation and meals provided is a quite lucky opportunity, I think.



I have been going to the National library of Uruguay in Montevideo almost everyday to study for a month.

Even if it is a library, I didn’t feel that we could borrow and read books easily like normal library that most of people imagine.

After entering the front entrance on the first floor, there’s a free space on the left and approximately 14 desks are lining up. Basically, everyone’s studying. I was also studying blending in them like anybody else.

There you can use free wifi. Although not very fast. But it’s helpful.

9 am – 19 pm on weekdays, close on weekends, holidays

I like a library to study, read a book, just relax. My favourite library is the central library in Vancouver that was open on weekends as well, wifi is fast, I miss the Vancouver library.