We began our morning with breakfast at the hotel. We then checked out of our rooms, and gathered in the hotel lobby. From there, we walked (with our carry-on luggage) to the hub site. Our classrooms at the hub site are on the 6th floor, so it’s quite a workout walking up!
Our morning training session was about culture and host families. We met our training coordinator, as well as the host family coordinator. The host family coordinator is the woman who starts selecting homes for us, beginning in April, that they feel are the best match for each of us. Before we came here, we were all asked to provide some information about ourselves and our preferences, and they use that to match us with host “families”. A host family can be a single woman, a married couple, or a couple with children. After she went over the criteria and shared some photos of possible places we might stay (both best-case and worst-case scenarios), we broke up into our programs to go over some do’s and don’ts of Moldovan culture. For example, it is rude to sit on the floor or to throw away food. This “training” was facilitated by our language instructors, who are Moldovans. We could ask questions, which was very helpful. Because the one of the “don’ts” said it is considered bad to throw away food, many of us had assumed that you were expected to eat everything on your plate. However, that is not at all true- they just don’t want to waste the food and will feed it to the animals. We also learned how to politely but firmly refuse more food or wine. After a short coffee break, we were herded outside where we were given our medical kits, additional first aid/medical items (like antibiotics), our filter for water, and a fire extinguisher. We then found our luggage in the massive pile, and loaded onto buses that would take us to our new home.
Although most of the programs are split up between two villages, all of the EE volunteers are in one town. We will be staying in Costeti (pronounced koh-ste-sht), which is a large village southwest of Chisinau. We stopped on the main road through town, and then the mayor’s daughter went with small groups of trainees on the bus (3-4 at a time) to deliver them to their new host family and home. I was in the last group, so we waited outside for about an hour and a half. Shorty after we arrived there, I was stung by a yellow jacket on my finger. I don’t think we got the stinger out, so it is still a bit swollen and sore. I took an antihistamine (from our great medical kit) just in case I was having an allergic reaction.
After waiting around for awhile, my group loaded the bus and we drove around delivering everyone. We’re all pretty spread out. I was the last one to be dropped off. The language trainer and mayor’s daughter jumped out at each stop to introduce us and help us get our luggage to the house, then we were left to our own devices- eek! It seems that most families in our town have someone in the family that speaks at least a little English, but some trainees are in a house with no English speakers. Since we only know about 10 phrases in Romanian, there will be a lot of miming in the next few days as we try to communicate with our families. My house is the closest to the school where our training will take place for the next couple of months, which is nice.
My host family consists of a mother, father, and two sons. My host mom, Pașa (I think) and dad (Castea) both seem very friendly, but do not speak any English (the mom knows a few words). My new host brothers are 14 and 10. The older one, Ciprian, speaks a little English, but the younger one, Lucian, does not. They seem like typical American boys of those ages. They listen to loud, mostly American, music, watch tv, and like to play sports.
My house is beautiful! It is definitely nicer than most homes in Moldova. I even have an indoor toilet, and a shower with hot water! The house is large, and mostly made up of the bedrooms. There are three bedrooms. I am staying in what was Lucian’s room. While I’m here, he’ll have a temporary bedroom in the kitchen, since they have a summer kitchen that’s not attached to the house. The house has plenty of light, and is pretty- wood floors, cushy rugs. My bedroom is quite nice. I have a pretty big bed, some space for clothes, etc., and a desk. I can see the hills surrounding the town from my window.
Although there is an indoor toilet, they only use it at night. Sewage is very expensive here, so in the summer, they generally try not to use the indoor toilet during the day. Instead, they have a (very nice- nicest I’ve seen according to photos) outhouse. It has electricity, and is easy to get to. It has a real toilet seat and cover, and even a mirror. The summer kitchen is detached from the house and opens to a covered outdoor dining area that is between the main house and the summer kitchen. There are plants and flowers everywhere and the dining area also has a small outdoor fireplace to use for barbeques.
There is a small flower garden in front of the house. The entrance to the house is large and covered. Moldovans do not wear shoes inside their homes EVER, so you take your shoes off before you enter the house and leave them on the porch.
Behind the house, there is a very large garden, with fresh strawberries, white cherry trees, tomatoes, zucchini, and plenty of other vegetables. There are also many grape vines. Near the garden, there is a chicken house, and they also have a goose and several baby goslings.
There is a driveway area in which they can play badminton and football (soccer).
When I first arrived at my new home, we got all of my stuff into my room, and then I was fed some lunch, which was delicious- fried zucchini (my favorite!), chicken soup (with potatoes, noodles, and veggies), and fresh bread. After I finished my lunch, Lucien picked some fresh strawberries and white cherries for me (which I actually thought were grapes). Both were very good! I then spent some time in my room getting unpacked and organized.
Thankfully for me, my host family has a niece that speaks very fluent English, and she came over for dinner, along with several other family members. She’s 18 and her name is Viorica. We talked for awhile, then joined everyone for dinner. Dinner was very good- some sort of meat, that was very yummy, fresh bread, a cake that was sweet (it definitely had layers of cream and layers of sweet cornbread, as well as some other layers that tasted good but I couldn’t identify), a traditional dish that is essentially rice and veggies wrapped in cabbage, then cooked, and little sweets. I had a little champagne from Milesti Mici, one of the famous wine towns, as well as some house wine (white)- for a non-wine-drinker, they were pretty good! I also got to try compote, which is essentially juice made from fruit. They gather the fruit in the fall, and preserve it into juices. I believe the one I had last night was white cherry compote- very good! After dinner, I played some badminton with Ciprian and one of my host cousins (about 6-7 years old) before heading to bed.