Today I had my first visit to a Colombian hospital.

I have been sick for about a week now. It has been thoroughly unpleasant. I will save you all the gory details but let you know that I drank a lot of water to stay hydrated and spent a lot of time in the bathroom.

I probably should have went to the doctor a few days ago but I put it off because I was very busy and didn’t want to explain all my problems in spanish.

So I spent ages wondering which hospital to go to. In the end I just picked one nearby and hopped down to their emergency department.

Apparently I was at the wrong hospital. I don’t know what odontology is, but apparently it’s not what I needed. The receptionist took my insurance details and ID. Then a doctor took me into one of those curtained rooms. A nurse took my BP and heart rate while a friend of his popped in to say hello.

He took my temperature… Not with a thermometer in the mouth or up the bum- but in my armpit. How weird. Thank god it wasn’t the bum though. (Although that might have made a better blog post)

Anyway after explaining my symptoms to a doctor, he gave me some paper and sent me to a pharmacy.

I was literally in and out with a prescription in hand in about 8 minutes. 8 minutes and I wasn’t even in the right hospital. He didn’t even need to check the ‘sample‘ I brought along with me.

I couldn’t believe it. At home I would wait 8 days for an appointment. (Well thats a bit unfair. Normally mum phones and gets me an appointment on the day itself. Thats why you should always be nice to the receptionist!) One time when I had a malaria scare (that’s a story for another time) I was waiting in A&E for over 4 hours. I’m pretty sure that if I actually had malaria, I probably would have died.

Conference Time: ‘More Important Than the President!

I was invited to speak at a conference held in the school I work at, and asked to speak for an hour about Northern Ireland, its place in Ireland and the UK, the culture, society, politics and economy. I figured YOLO (Well not literally, I’m neither 13 nor stupid) and got writing my speech The conference is in 2 days time: eesh that’s not long to write a speech.

The next day and my speech is coming along well. I’m finding the Spanish mostly ok and with the help of the Internet I find lots of stuff I can talk about. Then I find out that I’m not just speaking at the conference- I am the conference. Like, the entire conference (a hall of students at my school, and a hall of students in Cartagena via video link) is about me and Northern Ireland. Wow, talk about pressure.

Speech day is here and my keynote address is finally finished. With the help of Eileen and Samira we go through it and straighten out some mistakes in the Spanish and we practice un poquito. Finally it’s done.

Lots of sitting around. Lots of waiting. Seemingly endless Skype tests, microphone check-ups, and computer fidgeting. I don’t really know what’s going on. The time arrives to start, and of course nobody is here. Time keeping is not exactly a strength people have here. Within half an hour the hall is full and we are connected via video link to our amigos in Cartagena.

I give my speech. We have to pause a few times to fix the video link. I get a few laughs- luckily for my jokes, and not for my Spanish. I teach the students how to pour a Guinness, all about titanic, a brief history of the politics and religious conflict in NI, and tell them about our food, music and dance- and every other aspect of my culture I could think of.

Afterwards it’s question time. Queue the most difficult questions ever. “What do you know about Colombia?” “What do people in Ireland do to combat global warming?”, “What do you think about the current political situation in Colombia?” and my favourite question, “What kind of animals do you have in Ireland?” All in Spanish.

It was like the longest oral exam ever. Still, now that it’s over I think it went well. I’m defo now more prepared for further presentations in spanish, and after that tricky question sesh surely any oral test is going to be a complete doss from now on. I sure hope so anyway.

I’m going to sum up this article with the reaction of Leticia, the woman who I live with. She is obviously right.

Daniels. Es más importante que el presidente Juan Manuel Santos.

(Daniel, you’re more important than President Juan Manuel Santos.) Tell it like it is, Tish!