I watched a movie last night (Miradas Ajenas) with some friends from class. It was quite a strain on my brain though, as they spoke French and had Spanish subtitles.
Today I had to get up early to go to the Immigration Office. Early for me is 8:00am. The reason I needed to go there is to convert my tourist visa, which I got on the airplane, to a student visa. This is actually a pretty long process. I needed to get together about 10 different documents and copies of this and that. Here's what I can remember off the top of my head:
- Copies of every page of my passport, even those that didn't have anything written
- on them.
- Copies of my credit card and back statement.
- Copies of my tourist visa.
- An official letter of residence from the Residence Hall Office.
- An official letter of enrollment from the International Office.
- Two forms, which had to be printed both sides on legal-sized paper. Luckily, the local Internet cafes are pretty good about helping students do that.
So, that is what I've spent some of my free time for the last 3 weeks doing. I guess it really isn't all that bad, but just seemed like a lot of unnecessary paperwork. Now I have to call the office in a couple weeks to check on my application's status. Then I need to get my fingerprints taken, and then finally pick up the visa.
Most people had the option of getting their student visa before they left the USA (or their respective country), and a few did with the thought that they would have to do less once they arrived here. It turns out that they needed to do pretty much the exact same thing though. They weren't too happy about that.
What I think is kind of funny about the whole thing is that by the time I'm done with it all, I'll be half-way done with my stay here.
I think I have a case of the stupids today. First, I got up an hour early for class and didn't even notice. Then, I tried going to class, but the room was full of kids and the wrong teacher was already halfways done with his class period. I still hadn't figured out that classes don't start at 9:00 but rather 10:00, and wandered down the hallway (which isn't actually a hallway, just a very long open "porch" on each floor), until I found a girl sitting on the floor. She confirmed that the time was indeed 9:00am, as my watch was showing (and that it was Tuesday). Finally, I inquired if today was a holiday or something, causing my schedule to be different. Finally, she saw me for what I was--a stupid American--and pointed out on my schedule that my class actually started at 10:00. So I said, "Gracias" and walked away in shame.
And then there's this afternoon, in which I'm trying to visit the International Programs Office to check if I've gotten my mail today. As expected, when I arrived at 2:15pm the security guard inside the door told me office was closed until 2:30pm, and didn't seem to want to let me even go up to the their floor and wait. No problem, I figured, I'll just go use that computer lab right there, and write a blog post about something (I didn't know what, but figured I'd think of something). I asked the guard if there were computers available for me to use, and he agreed, pointing towards the computers through an internal glass wall. Then he made some wild gestures about going around this and that to get there (I ignored these, as the door handle was plainly right there). I walked over to this door, turned the handle, and tugged, but it was locked. Then I saw something that looked like a very small card scanner on the door frame, not unlike what NDSU has for some of its computer labs. It didn't look quite right though, so I walked to both ends of the glass wall that the door was set in, but found no other door. I returned to the door, whipped out my shiny new plastic ID card, and searched for a magnetic strip. I didn't see one, but reasoned that there was no real reason to make the magnetic strip visible to the naked eye; it could be white like the rest of the card. I swiped the card one way, another way, reversed it, and tried two more times, to no avail. (Keep in mind that this is a glass wall, and there are people who are using the computers watching me the whole time.) By now, the guard was laughing so hard he had fallen off his chair (not really, in all honesty I don't think he was even laughing), and again gestured to me that I had to go outside the building to get into the computer lab. I confirmed this by glancing through the glass wall and saw the doors on the other side. Around I went (it's really
hot here today), and here I am.
Every time I go to eat at Tacos Felix, they put limes on the table. I guess they're to put on anything you want, and today I decided to try squeezing one on my taco. It's actually a pretty good combination. I'm not saying you should try it on a Taco John's taco, because the ones down here only have meat on them, and I don't know if a taco would be very good with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and lime juice. But meat and lime juice is good. Try it.
I went to Walmart today, and bought a bunch of food, and had an inkling in the back of my mind that maybe I could cheaply get enough stuff together to make an omelette. So I was walking around, got some more bread, more peanut butter, more jelly, and walked by some frying pans that were on sale for only $4. That suckered me in, and I headed back over to the food section to buy some cheese and eggs. I also got 2 real plates and some real silverware (and some more ramen, and some little noodles that are kind of like ramen). And I got a comforter/blanket for my bed too.
When I got back, I went right to the kitchen and started cooking. I had to use a pliers from my toolkit to turn on the stove, because all the knobs are either missing or broken. Then, I put some butter in the pan, like all good cooks do, and to spare you the details of how to cook an omelette (because I don't really know how), here is the result:
Not pretty is it? But it still tasted good.
Everyone here has a laptop it seems. And, unlike students at NDSU, they actually sit outside and use them, all the time (climate makes a difference, I suppose). When I walk between classes at 11:30 on Tuesday and Thursday, I probably pass about 100 different computers. In 5 minutes. I've even seen 2 other Tablet PCs (never did at NDSU), including one guy using one in my math class. And it seems that they really planned for people to be able to use their laptops everywhere. The whole campus, even outside, is covered in a wireless signal, and there are poles with power and network cable jacks near the picnic tables that are all over campus. They're actually quite similar in appearance to the block heater plug-in poles we have in North Dakota.
On the other hand, the Internet connection here is real great. It slows down a lot in the evenings (when everyone is using it) to almost dial-up speeds. But at other times of day it is pretty zippy.
Alright, this post is just photos. All at the soccer fields.
It seems that everyone wants me to work at NDSU these days. Someone from ITS (the main NDSU computer service) contacted me a few weeks ago wondering if I was looking for a job. I had interviewed with him last March, and I told him I was going to be in Mexico, upon which he told me to check back in January. Apparently they went through their application stack again and found me, and didn't have it recorded that I was going to be gone. Anyways, it looks like I have have a pretty good chance at a job there.
And then today, I got an e-mail from the College of Engineering, which runs its own computer service. They also were wondering if I was still interested in a position. I don't think my chances are so good here, as I have interviewed for this one before with negative results, but they did come back asking (and now want me to check back in January also).
So finding on-campus computer related employment should not be difficult this winter.
2019-10-20 - It turns out that I ended up working at the College of Engineering and did not get an offer from ITS.
Well, I just got back from Celia's house. It is about 10 minutes by car from campus, and pretty nice (about the size of our house in Bismarck, but with no yard). She made spaghetti for lunch, and lemon meringue pie for desert (both tasted just like at home). Then I showed them a bunch of pictures that I had of me and my family on my laptop, and she pulled out her old pictures from 1974-1975. I didn't recognize my mom in any of them though.
They all spoke English pretty well (except Celia, who's English is about as good as my Spanish), although they consciously tried to speak Spanish as much as possible because they really wanted to help me learn. So I got the most practice today as any day I have spent here so far.
They (Celia & Guillermo) have three kids: Memo is 22, Jessica is 21, and Anacelia is 19. Jessica goes to art school, Memo is studying Industrial Engineering at Tec, and Anacelia is also going to Tec. Here are some pictures (Jessica was not there, but that is her art in the background):
They also have a dog, and 6 horses somewhere outside of town. Guillermo owns a fleet of 5 refrigerator trucks that import meat from Texas (Laredo, I believe). They also have a maid that works in their house all day.
For the past three days there has been a little donkey (about 4 feet tall) standing on the street just around the corner from the dorm. I've walked by several times each day and seen him, so he's putting in a lot of hours standing there in the hot sun. He's got a crappy two-wheeled cart hooked up to him, and it's full of a bunch of crappy odds and ends, so I feel sorry for him. Especially since the cart is taller than he is!
Today I went to a meeting about finding volunteer projects to take part in. The lady there gave us a list of about 50 organizations to check out, so I'll be going through that in the next couple of days. Then I went to the cafeteria to eat with David, where I had chicken stuffed with ham and cheese, noodles, and watermelon. After that we went to another organizational meeting, this time about conversations with Spanish-speakers (I don't really know what to call it). What you do is meet with one or more other people from Mexico that want to learn English better, and practice talking English and Spanish with them, and hopefully make friends while you're at it.
I tried printing some stuff at the computer cluster today, and had some difficulties. Actually, I first tried yesterday right before class, but couldn't completely figure it out in the little time that I had. Apparently they have the same system that NDSU has been struggling to implement for the last year, where you go to a computer by the printer to confirm that you want to print what you just queued up from your computer. But to queue anything up, you have to sign in, which my neighbor in the cluster was kind enough to show me how to do. So I get that figured out, and then head over to the release station, sign in there also, and hit print, thinking all is good. Nothing comes out of the printer. I figure maybe it takes a while, so wait a little longer, but realize that nothing is going to printer after the next person comes up and instantly gets their document. That's when I left to go to class.
Now we get to today, and I tried the same thing, on a different group of computers (they have a LOT of computers that are nearly always all busy, probably 500 of them). Same thing--no printing. So I go ask a lady, babble some rough Spanish to her, making up words like I usually end up doing, and she comes over to look at it. I show her how the document says it's printing but actually doesn't, and she comes to look at my computer. She has me sign in to something else, and then we walk over to the release station, sign in again, and it prints. So then I asked her what was different this time, and it turned out that I hadn't had any printing credits (I think we are supposed to have 100). I couldn't really understand why I hadn't been given any, but did figure out that it will work next time I try, and that I have 77 free pages left (a pretty random number I thought). I think I'll go plenty early next time I need something printed.