I’ve shared some things throughout the week, but here are some random thoughts about my first full week of PST (pre-service training).
- I have really enjoyed getting to know my host family. I’ve spent a lot of time playing badminton and cards with both of my host brothers, Ciprian (age 14) and Lucian (age 10). I’ve had several great conversations with my host parents. They’ve told me about life in Moldova and have wanted to learn more about my life in the USA. They were especially curious about what things cost in America and what Americans’ salaries are like. They also ask me often about the types of fruits and vegetables that can be grown in New York State. They were happy to find out that my family grows raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, but were surprised that we don’t really grow nuts in New York.
- We have long, tiring days of training! Our training is 6 days a week. Sunday is our only day off. We are at our training site four days a week for 9 hours per day, and one day per week for five hours. We also go into the capital for a “hub” site day once a week (although this past week we went twice). It is exhausting, but we are also learning a lot. At night, we often have some language or technical training.
- I’ve liked most of the food I’ve been served. I was very worried about this since I’m a picky eater and a lot of foods upset my stomach pretty easily. I’ve had a lot of chicken and potato soup, plenty of vegetables and berries, and other dishes. My host mom hasn’t made anything with mayonnaise or sour cream yet, which I’m very happy about. The only thing I haven’t really liked is the porridge I sometimes have for breakfast. It varies in type, but the texture really bothers me. This morning was the first time I have told my host mom that I didn’t like something she has made me. Our language instructors have assured us that it is okay to say that we don’t like something, as long as we give it a try. This morning’s meal was a corn-meal porridge with a lot of stinky cheese cooked in it. Although I think the corn-meal part would have been fine (it was very similar to cream of wheat), the stinky cheese was just too much. I eat a lot of berries, and I have even discovered I really like fresh cherries!
- It has been great to get to know the other trainees better. Our English Education group is really great, and I’ve met so many great people. I look forward to spending more time with my fellow trainees over the next month or so of PST.
- We have been learning the ways of public transportation within Moldova. This mostly consists of rutieras, which are essentially buses but are actually more like large vans. These get VERY crowded and can get very hot as well. There are about 17 seats on a rutiera, and about 3 people can comfortably stand, but there are typically about 30+ people on them. Because we have only travelled as a bigger group, we are usually able to open one of the roof hatches to allow some air to cool us down. We’ve also been introduced to the trolleys in Chisinau, the capital. These are bigger, but can still get just as crowded. Pickpocketing can be a problem on the trolleys, so you have to be very aware.
- My stomach felt a bit off today. I’m pretty sure I just ate something cooked in excess oil that didn’t agree with me. When I turned down a meal, my host mom got very concerned. After I joined them for a light meal (a broth-y soup and some bread and tea), I actually did feel a bit better. My host mom told me she was glad to see me smiling and got a bit teary. I think she was worried that I was very sick. They told me that I am a part of their family, which made me a little teary.
- I am (hopefully) going to my first Moldovan wedding on Friday!!! Moldovan weddings are basically 2-day affairs. The couple gets married in a small ceremony at the church and takes care of paperwork in the morning, and then the party starts later that evening and carries all the way through the night into the following morning. I’m still trying to get details ironed out with my host family, but I think I’ll be able to go to the party. I’ve heard it is quite the experience, so I’m excited!
- My Romanian is improving, slowly but surely. When I arrived in Moldova, I could speak about 5 words in Romanian. Now, I can say a variety of basic phrases, I know the alphabet, can count to 1,000,000,000, can greet someone, can invite someone somewhere and accent an invitation, can tell time, can ask basic questions, can conjugate the verbs “to be” and “to have”, and know the names for various family members. Don’t believe I can possibly know all that after only 5 language classes? Here are some examples:
- Vă invit duminică la teatru. Multumesc pentru invitatie. La ce oră? La hora 5. Bine, vin cu plăcere. (I invite you on Sunday to the theater. Thank you for the invitation. At what time? At 5:00. Good, I come with pleasure.)
- Eu am soră. Ea este studentă. Eu am frate. El este programator. Eu am mamă. Ea este profesoară de scoală primariă. Eu am tată. El este un broker. (I have a sister, Heather. She is a student. I have a brother, Chris. He is a programmer. I have a mom. She is a teacher at a primary school. I have a dad. He is a broker.)
- I have gotten used to using an outhouse most of the time. My outhouse is quite nice, with an actual seat. Besides having to go outside to get to it and having to throw out the toilet paper, it’s not really that much of an adjustment (unless it’s the middle of the night). On Friday, we went to a park in Chisinau for team-building. I used my first squat toilet there, and it was quite disgusting. It was a public park bathroom and it clearly isn’t cleaned very often. The squatting part wasn’t so bad, but the disgusting nature of stuff being where it should not be was pretty bad. It also didn’t have stalls; it just had a semi-wall between the two holes, so if anyone walked in the bathroom, there was nothing blocking you.
- My host family has largely respected my privacy, but other trainees have found that Moldovans are not very private people. When this subject came up at a discussion with our language instructors (who are Moldovan), a funny exchange occurred:
- Aliona (of of the language instructor): “We have an usual idea about privacy here in Moldova.”
- One of my fellow trainees: “What is unusual about it?”
- Aliona: “It is missing.”
This has turned into quite the long post, so I’ll leave it at that. If you have any specific questions, feel free to comment or contact me! Pe curînd (See you later)!