All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Week #2

Yes, it’s my birthday. Didn’t know quite what to expect; but it was a good day. We had to be in Chisinau for training at 8:30 which means I had to wake up extra early to get on the crowded transit. And BOY was it crowded. That is probably one of the most challenging aspects of Moldova so far. I was greeted with many “Happy Birthdays” and we headed into the city. We had a mini language lesson in the morning while we received more immunizations and our LTI’s sang me Happy Birthday in Romanian. From there we had group sessions throughout the whole day. Only once a week are we with all 55 volunteers; and today was the day. Christina, in my training group, lovingly announced to the entire group that it was my birthday so the entire hall sang to me. Then the PC Staff sang to me in Romanian again. It was lovely. We went over to the PC office for lunch and we got to use the internet which was so nice. Got to see some pics from my HS reunion last week. It looks like everyone had a good time. I’m still so sad I had to miss it but I will be sure and be at the 25th. Got to catch up on a couple emails and FB messages. I wish I had more time on the internet, also a struggle, but it is a minor inconvenience. We had more sessions in the afternoon and in our last session of the day; my dear fellow trainees surprised me with a Moldovan cake. It was very nice and much appreciated. We headed back to gear up for another hot bus ride. Even though it is still a long walk through Chisinau, it is getting easier. Hopefully in time, I will struggle even less with all the walking. We finally arrived back in Stauceni and my trainees and LTI’s were nice enough to hang out for about an hour and visit for my birthday. We wound up talking so late that my host family called and wondered where I was as they were holding dinner. I got home for dinner and was pretty tired but managed to fit in a call to Mom and Leroy before now. And now I go to sleep. Before I do, I’ll remember that last year at this time I was getting ready for my Dad’s funeral and now I’m in the middle of Eastern Europe trying to make the world a better place. I think I’m doing okay.
Tomorrow is more language training and then an afternoon of SDA’s (Self-directed Activities). If I’m in charge, it will be group nap.
Peace and Love.
OK, it’s official, Romanian is hard. We are learning in 8 weeks what most people learn in 4 years. It is extremely accelerated and extremely difficult. Thankfully, there are 9 of us going through the exact same thing (well actually many more, but 9 in my direct group) and we have each other to feed off of. Today was a little bit hotter than it has been all week. More like the first day we arrived. Thankfully, we weren’t doing a lot of walking so it was tolerable. Met Lyndsey outside as we live 3 houses away from each other and walk to and from school together each day. She is one of the most real people I have met and I value her company daily. We had language lessons from 8:30 – 12:30 and even though it is only 4 hours, it is exhausting. At one point during the lesson, the electricity went out in the school (found out later the whole town) so the fan was dead now too. It was a hard morning. I came home for a quick lunch and then headed back to school for “SDA’s.” (Self-Directed Activities or as Lyndsey describes them, self-destructive activities). Today’s topic was learning about Stauceni the village. We were split into two groups, one had to walk around and map the village, physically and the other group had to find out about the town. I was grateful to be in the group that had to sit around and ask our LTI questions while the other group trekked all over Stauceni getting the layout of the land. So it was Michael, Jaime, Conrad, Andrea and I grilling Rodica and Ina about the culture in Stauceni. One fun moment was when we learned about the Cracker Factory and all decided that would be a fantastic band name. We laughed about it for quite a while. It didn’t take too long and we were done by 3:00. I wasn’t expected home until 4 so Jaime and I walked up to the nearest Magazin (convenience store) and I just wanted to get some cold water. Since I was hot and tired, I didn’t pay attention and accidentally bought cold water, but it was carbonated (like Perrier) which I hate! Blech! Waste of money. Electricity was still out everywhere so it wasn’t even that cold. I was disappointed as I was really looking forward to chugging a cold bottle of water. It’s the little things, really. I’ve been living on bottled water because the natural water is such a process to be able to drink. We have to boil it, let it cool, then pour it through a filter, and then drink it. It tastes fine after all of that but it does take some time. And if you’re thirsty for water, you don’t feel like waiting for a half hour while it cools. Eugen and Antolie have been bringing me ice cream nightly. I feel a little spoiled. I still really shouldn’t complain about the heat as it has been very nice and tolerable as of yet and it is only June. I know July and August can be brutal. I’ll probably refer back to this and laugh at myself. One of the weirdest things to get used to is the wild dogs. There are stray dogs everywhere. And not the ones in the U.S. that are sweet and you feel bad for, these ones are out for your blood. And I’m not being paranoid because I don’t like dogs, it’s for real. We were lectured on it in safety training to stay away from them; we were given audible dog repellants and all given rabies vaccinations. Dog bites are a genuine concern. I got home at about 3:30 and decided to study and read in my room. Tatiana and Eugen were working outside around the house. I’ve offered to assist but I am always refused. They stick to the ‘you are the guest’ policy very strictly. The power just came back on so I guess we can eat dinner now. Although I guess it wouldn’t have been a problem since they have a gas stove. Have I mentioned what an amazing cook Tatiana is? She is realizing how much I love her potatoes as now I’m getting them every meal. This morning for breakfast I had a big omelet with salami and cheese that was delicious too. Some days it is strange to have all your meals prepared for you, some days it just rocks. Tomorrow is another morning of language training and then on to Chisinau for the afternoon of “Team building” exercises. I can only imagine what that entails. Details to follow…
Peace and love.
So, team building…translation, everybody let’s go out into the middle of a forest in the middle of a city and play games. Seriously, there is a giant forest in the middle of Chisinau not to mention a lake. It was very bizarre. Anyway, we all showed up at 1:00 on an extremely hot Friday for some team building exercises. All the trainees were there as well as most of the LTI’s and PC staff. They split us up in to 5 groups and 5 volunteers who run summer camps for kids in Chisinau took us around and played team building games with us. I will be the first to admit, this is not my cup of tea. I am a ‘stay inside on the computer’ kind of a gal, but fortunately, I was in a group with 4 of the funniest guys who were all similar computer nerds. And we had fun! The first game was a name learning game which we had to learn everyone’s names. I knew the guys right away John, Jesse (from my tech group), Jeremy and Thomas. They were big on cracking jokes and I just greatly appreciated their sense of humor. From there we played a series of games basically with the gist of, trust each other, ask for help, think outside the box, etc. It was incredibly hot outside and the bugs were out for blood…literally…but we survived. Some may say I should have a more positive attitude in doing things I don’t like to do. However, in my defense, I think the fact that I did something I didn’t want to do, didn’t complain, powered through and found people who helped me laugh about it was a show of great strength and strategy. Overall, it wasn’t too bad. I did survive and I made some great new friends. On the long walk back to the bus, I thanked Jeremy for making the activity so fun and he agreed that it wasn’t technically his thing but it did turn out to be fun. The bus ride back to Stauceni, as per usual, was extremely crowded and sweaty. We had to split into two groups. So Christina, Lyndsey, Andrea and I took a bus on our own and got off early in Stauceni to stop at the Magazin (store). We went in and got some much needed toiletries and all got a cold drink and some ice cream. We sat outside and decompressed for a bit and it was really nice. When I got home, Tatiana was making some fresh plicenta which is my new favorite pastry. It’s cheese mixed with egg and dill wrapped in dough and baked. It is delicious, especially fresh out of the oven. We ate dinner and then had fresh plicenta. My legs were incredibly sore so I went to bed but it was hard to sleep because my muscles were screaming silently.
This morning I woke up for class and my legs were still very sore and I noticed not only were there a lot of bug bites but also a small rash on my legs. That always happens to me when I’m outdoors. It never shows up that day but the morning after there it is. I went to class at 8:30 with Lyndsey. We had planned to go early but both of us were too exhausted. When I got to class, Ina noticed my rash and insisted I call the Medical center. The PC takes every little medical issue extremely seriously. I talked to Iuliana who is the lead doctor and had to describe the rash. She made me go home and cover my legs in hydrocortisone and takes some Benadryll. She did not know if the rash was contagious and did not want me in school. Doctor’s orders to go home and sleep all day? I’ll take it! I slept from about 10:30 until 7:30 tonight. Terrible, yes, I know but I’m not ashamed. I mean it was doctor’s orders! So hopefully by tomorrow the rash will be better. We are on lockdown tomorrow as it is city elections and sometimes they get volatile. If the rash isn’t better by Monday, I will have to go into Chisinau to the medical office. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I’m really happy that I only have to go into the city once next week. Although if I have to go to PC, they’ll send a van for me so I don’t have to mess with the bus. We’ll see what happens. For now, I’m going to enjoy this ingheata (in-gets-ata/ice cream) that Antolie has brought me for dessert.
So this morning I woke up and the rash was a little bit better but the spider bites seemed to have gotten bigger. I have the worst reaction to spider bites. So I had to keep popping the Benadryl and applying the hydrocortisone. It was UBER hot so I didn’t do much. I had a few meals but mostly studied and slept. Around 5:30, I was called for dinner which was ham and potatoes. As I was finishing, Antolie arrived home with his friend Iurie and they had stuff to have a picnic. So even though I had just eaten dinner, it was time for a picnic. Lyndsey called me and said she had my homework assignment from Ina and she was going to bring it over. So she stopped by but Antolie and Tatiana insisted that she stay for the picnic. In fact, the made us go get Christina since Iurie was her host father and he was staying for dinner. So Eugen, Lyndsey and I walked over to get Christina and we had a big old party! There was tons of sausage and pork ribs and potatoes and wine and beer and juice and it was fun. It was nice to eat with my new friends and have an enjoyable relaxing Sunday evening. I learned that Sunday is typically the day to party as it is a celebration for the end of the week. There were some fireworks in the distance for the political victors in the elections. I don’t know who they were but someone was happy. Just as I was falling asleep the rain started and it rained through the night; literally until I had to leave for school. It was a very relaxing day.
Since today was the longest day of the year, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was yet another exhausting one. Language every single morning for 4.5 hours is exhausting. We are learning in 8 weeks what most people learn in 4 years. It’s so tiring and by the 11:00 hour we are just plain loopy. Today at 11:30 Lyndsey randomly looked at me and said “you don’t have your ears pierced.” It was the most random statement and it gave us both the giggles and we were done. Thankfully so was language class. We walked home for lunch and then as per usual, headed to the Magazin to get a drink. I usually get a bottle of Pepsi, but today I just got a small can of coke and a bottle of water. Lyndsey got an ice cream. At the Magazin we ran into Christina, Andrea and our PCVL Craig. We waited for them and walked back to school with them. Craig informed us of all the traveling he has gotten to do since he’s been here and that lifted all of our spirits. We’re all so focused on training and exhausted at the learning that we forget about the perks of being here once we survive training. Our afternoon was another tech session in which Craig and another volunteer, Vince, talked to us about what life in the more secluded villages is like as well as activities in communication. It is sometimes hard to work with everyone as we are all such different personalities. It has been a LONG time since I was in college and I forget how hard it can be some time to work with people that have different styles of learning. But there is no choice, I HAVE to figure it out. This is a huge challenge but thankfully I’m not the only one and am so grateful to have Lyndsey and Christina to discuss with on our walks home. When I got home tonight, I finally communicated to my host mom that I desperately needed to do laundry before my pants got up and walked away from me. So that is what we are doing now. I know having a washing machine is a definite luxury that I will not have when I get to site so I need to take advantage of it while I can. In the meantime, I have finished dinner, studied today’s lesson from Romanian and updated my flashcards all while watching Back to the Future. At least my multi-tasking skills haven’t evaporated.
Happy summer.
Today was a roller coaster. Language every morning was exhausting, have I mentioned that? I came home for lunch and had my usual “Zeama” (chicken stew) but today Antolie added a spoonful of sour cream. Wow! It was delicious. I had 3 bowls. After lunch, Lyndsey and I have been going to the Magazin to get a soda but I don’t want to make a habit of that not only because I don’t want to drink that much soda but also, it’ll add up after a while. So we went back to school early and just hung out outside because it was so nice out. We didn’t have language in the afternoon, but another volunteer, John was coming to talk to us. He turned out to be fantastic. He was completely real with us and told us what it is really let us know what we could expect. He had served 4 years in Azberjahn (sp?) and he was in his second year here in Moldova. It was so refreshing and honest and inspirational and totally what we all needed to become reinvigorated at the grand scheme of things instead of stressful language lessons. It was fantastic. Christina, Lyndsey and I talked on the way home and just felt so much better about everything. It was the best we had felt in a while. Sometimes we get stressed by little things and the loss of our comforts and missing our families and not having internet but in the grand scheme of things, these are such minor difficulties. It was a nice kick in the ass that we gravely needed. The 3 of us are really a support team to each other and it is greatly appreciated. I know that there were some who didn’t enjoy it as much as we did but for the three of us, it was exactly what we needed.
Overall, it is now 2 weeks that we’ve been here. The first week, I probably would’ve gone home in a heartbeat just out of heat and exhaustion but thankfully, I powered through. They don’t call this job touch just for marketing purposes, it is tough. Every single day you question your decision but with friends you can survive anything. I hope it will become a little easier when I have more regular access to internet. Although I could get an Orange stick (mobile internet) I would have to sign a contract for 2 years and pay a lot of money. Current volunteers have strongly advised to wait until you get to site (at the end of July) and get DSL at site. It’s cheaper and faster and a better investment overall. So we are striving for that…although it isn’t easy. The walking is getting a little easier. My legs aren’t AS sore. My ankle still gets stiff towards the end of the day but I hope with time that will heal more properly. I’m still pretty winded when I get to my home at the top of the steep hill. IT’s getting easier, but I’m still winded. My goal is by the end of the summer to be able to get up it at a decent speed without being so winded. I think that’s achievable.
This weekend my group of trainees has made plans to go to the neighboring village of Cricova to meet up with the rest of our COD trainees and go out for pizza. I am looking forward to getting out of Stauceni aka Dodge and seeing a little more of Moldova.
Hope all is well in the US of A.
Per curind (see you soon)
 My street where I live

The school I go to...

Talk to you soon!

1 comment:

  1. Do you prefer Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
    ANSWER THE POLL and you could get a prepaid VISA gift card!