All in a weeks’ work as an ELF in Paraguay

It was exactly one week ago, give or take a few hours, that I landed in Asuncion, Paraguay, for my 10-month contract as an English Language Fellow (or ELF, the best acronym ever, in my opinion.)

I’m alive. I’m well. It’s not called the honeymoon phase for nothing! 🙂

I don’t really know where to begin other than to say it’s been a whirlwind of a week. After getting out of the airport around midnight last Sunday, I spent the week meeting people at the various organizations I’ll be working with in the coming year, learning a bit about the country and culture, getting my Spanish back up and running, and setting up my new apartment and life.

I needed at least 12 days in this week, but oh well.

One of many murals on my downtown walkabout

It’s a good practice for me. Good, in that getting settled into being a productive, adjusted human in a new society is what I support my clients at home with every day. And now it’s my turn.

Good, in that I get to be in their shoes as a reminder of how exhausting and also how exhilarating it is.

Good, in that I get to practice being as kind and patient with myself as I am to them. And to have a sense of humor about all the mistakes I make in a day.

So instead of a play-by-play of what happened this week, how about a list of some of the things I learned? It’s been a big week.

  1. I learned how phone numbers work here, swapping out numbers and zeros depending on if you’re calling a landline, calling FROM a landline, calling TO another cell phone, etc. OK, I didn’t really learn it, but I have cheat sheet.
  2. How to get to my office. And home.
  3. How to work the checkout aisles at the grocery store. (yeah, carts don’t go through)
  4. How to tell an Uber driver where I want to go. And getting there.
  5. How to take the bus downtown. And back.
  6. How to roughly know how many dollars I’m spending when $1 = 6,100 Guarani. Math is not my strong suit. And yes, I have a cheat sheet. And an app.
  7. How to order some Paraguayan food
  8. How to greet people correctly (two kisses, most of the time)
  9. How not to be shocked by the melting pot that is Paraguay
  10. How to count the 10(thousand) things I’ve learned, and not the 10(million) I haven’t yet. (Although I have high hopes of figuring out my address soon)

And amid my tornado of activity trying to get settled as quickly as possible, I found this quote. It seems appropriate. While I’m chasing squirrels, remember the miracle that is right now.


(That’s see you later in Guaraní, but believe me, I´m still working on the Spanish bit)

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Director of Unusual Circumstances: Teacher, trainer, coach, consultant. Find out more about me at: About Us