The views and opinions expressed on these blog posts are solely those of the original author, myself, Amanda Cox. These views and opinions do not represent those of any company, government, or organization I may be affiliated with.
I only got back from Nepal a few months ago, and I’ve literally been working at my new job since the day after my previous contract ended. Now that I’m finally feeling a bit more settled, I’m off again on a new adventure (moving to Bolivia for a year). My life is going a million miles a minute and I can’t always wrap my head around it in words. That’s why I thought I’d give it to you in song.
I was recently attending a Hedley concert in Ottawa with Steve, and I just found that parts of a lot of their songs really resonated with me and how I was feeling about my life at that time. Some are silly, some are sad, some are happy, some are serious. Either way, I hope you can enjoy and get a small impression of who I am (through music).
Posted in Bangladesh/Nepal (2015/2016) - IYIP, Bolivia - CUSO (2016/2017), Travel
Tagged adaptation, concert, culture, Hedley, international development, loneliness, love, lyrics, music, quotes, Travel
This past week I’ve been attending SKWID (pronounced like “squid”) in Ottawa. For those not in the Cuso International family, that stands for Skills and Knowledge for Working in Development (I think…?). Basically, it’s 5 days of training at Cuso’s office in Canada before you head off to your placement. Our group was about 20 people who are heading to 9 different countries to work with various projects for different durations. It was amazing to hear so many diverse perspectives! Read below to find out more about what we actual did over the course of 5 days.
The whole team that attended (and facilitated) the SKWID workshop – July 8-12, 2016, Ottawa, ON.
I work in development. When you work around the world, particularly in “developing countries” you’re like the proverbial tree in the wind; if you’re not flexible enough to bend then you’re bound to break one day. Being flexible means understanding that things might happen slower than you expect (work projects, meetings not starting on time, long bus rides…), things that you once considered to be necessities are no longer available (hot showers, reliable electricity, clean drinking water), and the comforts that you use as a crutch at home when you need to have fun or cheer yourself up (for me – going to a movie theatre, ice cream, cheese, bacon, and cocktails) are not so easy to find. The more remote your location, and the less westernized the country you are living in, the more you will likely have to change your expectations.
Photos throughout this blog were taken on a day-long excursion from Bangkok, Thailand to Erawan Waterfalls and an elephant sanctuary, and feature my boyfriend (Stephen) and myself.
But eventually everyone does (those trees who don’t break at least). You learn to live with what’s around you. You’re surprised if your meeting starts on time, you’re confused if your bus only takes that amount of time listed on Google maps, and you’re delighted if your lunch doesn’t include rice!
However, one thing that all this acclimation doesn’t do, is stick around forever. After a few hot showers, the novelty wears off. Once you eat a few delicious meals, they become common place. When you have reliable electricity, a short power outage becomes a huge surprise and seems to inconvenience your entire life. It actually takes a lot of work to continue to foster this sense of gratitude in your normal life.
I’ve told you that I’m leaving but it’s probably not super clear what I’ll actually be doing in Bolivia! I have accepted a 1 year placement with CUSO international. They’re a great organization which pairs people with specific skills sets (industrial design in my case) to partner organizations in “developing countries” which are in need of that type of assistance.
A team of students from Escuela Taller Sucre in their jumpsuits and hard hats.
Note: All pictures from the school are courtesy of the inter-webz. Once I arrive, I will be able to take my own pictures for all of you to see!
I love Ottawa in summer. People think it’s a boring city but I have so many things to do. Every weekend there are at least 2 or 3 festivals, and I’ve been making lots of fun plans with my friends. Plus at least once a month we head down to Toronto/Newmarket to see Steve’s family and friends, plus my university friends. If you ever looked at my calendar, you would be way more likely to say “Wow, how do you fit so much into a day?”, than “Wow, you live in a boring city, looks like there’s nothing to do.”
Plus, now that I know I’m going to be moving in a bit over a month (yikes!), I have a ton more things on my plate! Trying to fit in a social life while you’re moving, working, and planning a new job abroad is tricky business! It’s a good thing I’m so organized!
Left: Doors Open Ottawa, an amazing weekend where you get to check out all the places around town you’ve never seen before. We went to the Parkdale Food Centre where they provide food supplies and cooking classes to people in need in their community.
Right: My friend from Toronto (who was in Ghana with me in 2014 – we both worked for EWB) was visiting Ottawa for the weekend in May, so we went to check out the Tulip Festival!
South America (SA) is a bit mysterious to some people. Everyone knows that it’s the continent below ours (for Canadians anyway), but many people don’t know a lot about the history, culture, or geography of SA. Here’s a brief overview of some important things you should know about South America (in general), Bolivia (more specifically), and Sucre (the city where I’ll be living).
A few pictures from our last South American adventure! Left: Amanda with chef at a cooking class in Chile; Middle: Steve with a monkey in the Peruvian rainforest; Right: Steve and Amanda on a little cart (a “taxi” to the port to catch a boat) on the border between Peru and Bolivia.
Note: The pictures and facts in this post are mostly from Wikipedia (except the pictures above, of course), and you can see the links for the appropriate pages in the text below. I know, I know – not the most reliable source, but definitely one of the quickest ways to get lots of useful information.
So, let’s face it. I haven’t written a blog in forever. I’m sorry… I suck! When I’m looking for work, or preparing for a new job, I tend to make that my primary task when I have free time in the evenings – hence blogs get thrown to the side. So, this is me, making an effort to tell you what’s going on in my life!
What’s new with me? Well, I’m working a desk job at the government on contract (in typical Ottawa fashion) for the summer. I got to see my sister (who lives in Vancouver), last week, so that was really nice. We’re bopping around town in my mom’s old car, since she has retired to Mexico (and is living the life!). We’re enjoying the beginning of festival season in the city (Glow Fair, Doors Open Ottawa, and Italian Fest, anyone?).
Oh, and I have some exciting news in my life. After much consideration and an extended hiring process:
Steve and I are moving to Bolivia!
Last time we were in Bolivia we visited a mining town called Potosi, where we got to gear up and explore the silver mines. We also met a lot of other cool people there.