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IRB approval is the worst. Really it is. I understand there needs to some kind of organization that makes sure that research with human subjects is valid and risk-avoidant, but does it really have to be so incredibly bureautic? Can’t there be a way to speed this process up for someone who just wants to observe in a classroom, and interview some teachers and parents? I know everyone one of my senior friends at Swat writing a thesis right now that relies on researching people (Hey, fellow SocAnth majors!) can empathize with how incredibly frustrating this process is. So unnecessarily frustrating. (I love my college. I love my college. I love my college.)

Besides the frustration of this whole getting-my-thesis-started process, life has been quite nice here in my little pueblo. Tomorrow is the last day of intensive Spanish. I’m a little sad to leave CPI, and all of the teachers and fellow students there, but so, so happy and excited to finally start working in the classroom. I know it’s gonna be tough with the first graders (their English is so limited), but it’ll also be tons of fun, and I love the teacher I’m working with already. I think we’re going to get along great. (Hi, Jodi, if you’re reading this!) Next week, the first graders will continue to work on their first piece of realistic fiction, double digit addition without regrouping, and their unit on arthropods. Good times ahead.

I’m surprised how easy the transition from frigid Minnesota to the beautiful mountains of Monteverde has been. I mean half of the equation is simply in going from the dead of winter to the beauty of summer, but I also would like to attribute the other half of the equation to my host family. They are so kind, especially when I holed up in my room last Friday night during dinner because I had the blues and was feeling a little overwhelmed by everything. They didn’t judge me or interrogate me. They did knock several times to see if I was okay, but otherwise left me alone to breathe, and didn’t make a big deal about it at breakfast the next day. Perfect. I’m so happy to have a host family that cares about me like a real family, and still knows to give me space. And the food that my host mom makes for us, so delicious. I’m excited to spend the next four months in this little home.

The best part of living in Monteverde, though?

Take a guess.

No, it’s not the cloud forest.

No, not the warm weather.

No, it’s not the people (though they’re all really great).

It’s not Spanish (though I love it more and more each day).

Not my two amigas from Swat (though they’re the best, and I suppose also belong in the more general category of people above).

Not the rainbows that can be seen almost everyday.

It’s not the library at the Quaker school.

It’s not dancing at Bar Amigos.

It’s not the food my host mom or Beatrice make.

It’s not having time to watch TV on my computer or get my nails done with my host sisters.

It’s none of that (though I love everyone one of those so very much).

It’s my host family’s dog Snoopy. I never thought I would say this about a dog (I’m much more of a cat than dog person despite being allergic to them), but I really really love him. Three days this week we have gone running together, and each time he follows right along behind me where ever I go. Up hills. Down hills. On sidewalks. Along the dirt roads. Props to the past host students who trained him to run so well with them. I’m incredibly impressed. And it’s so nice to have a running buddy again, if he’s a lot smaller than my running buddies have been in the past :)

I’m kind of looking forward to having a reputation, at least by June, as the gringa who’s always running all over town with a little dog following behind her. I won’t mind having that reputation at all.