I will miss Venezuela when I leave in June. However, protests, economic disaster, tires burning as road blocks, and the fear of being robbed will not be missed.
To say the least, my two years teaching in Venezuela have been exciting. I had a near mugging experience at 7:00 AM waiting for the school bus to drive up the hill to take me to school. I was worried about my fiance who was misdiagnosed and the medicine that we found made his health worse not better. I had the class labeled, “the worst in elementary.” I had a student write “Miss Kristina es punta,” on a falta lleve form which is a reflection form given to the Ministery of Education and child services here. I had my card rejected a bunch of times after waiting 1 or 2 hours for food.
Although it feels like Venezuela handed me a terrible hand, there are so many awesome memories too. It feels like sometimes you need to take 5 bad things in Venezuela for the one magically, awesome life experience to happen.
I got free cake and shots at a bar when I was trying to ask if it was appropriate for me to buy shots for another table (because it was a lady’s 50th birthday party). I went on my first yacht on a girls weekend and got a ton of sun and swimming in crystal blue waters. Also, got to see dolphins up close! I attended a beautiful dinner with my best friend Daniela and her amazing husband. The chef was amazing! I went to my first Marine Ball. I went to a Marine House Party. I got to travel through Belize, Curacao, Cuba, and Brasil. I become closer to my finance and got engaged in our favorite steakhouse restaurant.
Why Don’t I just Leave?
Every placement will hand you a deck of cards. You will have great moments and you will have terrible moments. Venezuela, if you make dollars, has many possibilities to great moments but you need to keep an open mind through all the terrible moments. Empathy really affects you in Venezuela. You learn quickly that the majority of the country is struggling, yet you can pop to the steakhouse and get a delicious meal for two, including drinks, for $30 dollars. But that same $30, is one person’s monthly salary. INSANE!
My finance also got extremely sick at the end of last year. The lack of resources doesn’t hit you until someone you love needs medicine and medicine is just not there. Americans take medication for granted. Yes, America has a flawed system. The hit TV show, where a teacher turns meth dealer to pay his medical bills, highlights the flawed system we have. But, I couldn’t just throw $300 dollars at someone to make Peter get his medicine tomorrow. I had to rely on strangers willing to give up a part of prescription that they traveled to Miami for or the people that traveled to Colombia in order to have the medications. I had to rely on the generosity of others. Thank God Venezuelans are very generous people.
The locals is a huge reason why I did not just pack all my bags and live once Peter was so ill. They were so helpful and really go me through the tough time of spending 3 hours daily finding a medicine that was nowhere to be found. They spent hours talking to me and visiting Peter and me in the hospital. I was an emotional mess and they made sure I got time to spend it with Peter. I love the locals here.
Find out as much information about the country you are moving to. Find out about the culture. Find out about the current economic climate. Find out about how the government is run. Find out about the weather. Find out what American stores exist in the new country. Find out which foods you can find and which one’s you can’t. Find out how banks work and how you pay cell phone bills. Ask about any information. There are so many horrible news stories about Venezuela but living here I can create an equal amount of happy stories. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask to talk to teachers there. Ask to talk to local teachers there. Ask why the teachers before left. Gather as much information before you decide if the school or country is right for you.
I love and adore my experiences in Venezuela but I am glad I am leaving now.