Last Spring 2011: This was my semester from... well, not from heaven. I was taking four classes, still teaching LAN112 (the second-semester Spanish course at ISU), and trying to breathe in some oxygen ever so often. I think I wrote more than 100 pages that semester. I loved that during finals week this current semester (Fall 2011) my GA colleagues would come to me and say, "My, Isabel, you look a lot less stressed this time around!" I wish that I wasn't such an open book, but alas, 'tis true.
Summer 2011: To be completely honest, I was hoping to travel this past summer. It had been over a year since Chile, and my traveling bug was romping around inside; however, God intended another immense blessing in my life. For my certification in TESOL, I am required to teach 100 hours of English as a second language. Therefore, during the summer, I taught about 75 hours to a group of 12 students, probably from about 5 different cultures and/or languages. I must clarify one little misconception: teaching your FIRST language requires a different knowledge base than teaching your SECOND language. I find it almost easier to teach the "why" and "how" of Spanish than explaining those two devilish questions in English. I finished up the 25 hours this past fall semester conducting a small tutorial group at the same organization. Much to my pleasant surprise, most of these students have become close friends now. Yeaaaaa, I am THAT creeper type of a teacher. I know, I know.
The second aspect of the summer was that, after five years of praying for this opportunity, I was finally able to take a photography class. It was a BLAST! I am the proud owner of a Canon Rebel XSi. Although Nikon is a stellar choice as well, I am a bit partial to my Canon babies. Anywho, soon after the class, I was hired as an events photographer at a local retirement village for about 8 months. My "models" pretty much rocked off my photographic socks. Take that. My love of photography only continues to grow (and hopefully refine) -- I have so far had the honor of doing one wedding, couple shoots, family portraits, individual shots, and even a puppy shoot (and no, my obsession with Shea doesn't count for that particular category). It's brought in a little extra income (aka travel fund) and is an enjoyable side-job for me as well!
Fall 2011: This past semester was as normal as it gets for chaotic grad school. I took three classes, and the only other change is that I taught TWO sections this semester. Sometimes it became difficult to balance my classes, my teaching obligations, my TESOL practicum, and the photography side-job, but it was still a delightful semester for numerous reasons.
Future plans: Tentatively speaking, I am planning a trip to Perú in May for about two weeks. Even though I would love to revisit and reconnect with Chile, I do not feel that it is God's timing just yet. I am VERY excited to explore the Peruvian wonders! Nothing feels official though until you hit the "complete purchase" for the airplane ticket. Secondly, as you can see from my photos here on the blog, I am home for the holidays. From catching up with the family to dancing nights in St. Louis to cooking like a crazy woman, it's been nice to be home again. Lastly, I am in the process of applying for jobs after graduation. This summer (2012) I will be studying for my final exit exams, where in order to officially graduate with my Master's, I am required to read 50-100 books, retain all the critical information, and reproduce it all in essay format. After I officially pass the exams (asserting this by faith), I will hopefully be teaching English in South America (http://www.english.cedei.org/about.html) for a year or so. We will see.
Until then, ladies and gentlemen, it's always a pleasure.