After four months at site, I feel like I have finally settled in well and that my day-to-day life has begun to have a normal routine once again. I wake up in the morning, throw on several layers of cold, my coat, and my host mom’s boots (several sizes too big, but they’re warm and water proof), an tread to the outhouse. It’s gotten rather cold in there, but with my multiple layers, only my bum really gets cold. I eat breakfast, get dressed, grab my bag and head out the door to walk to school. At school, I teach my lessons, plan with my partner, and then walk back home. The school is pretty chilly most days, but I’ve learned how to layer (tanktop, long sleeved shirt, dress, and cardigan on top; two layers of fleece-lined leggings or stockings, an additional thin pair of socks and high boots on bottom) and I usually don’t get all that cold. I eat lunch, go online, and maybe do some work, draw, or read. I eat dinner with my host mom, usually followed by a snack of sunflower seeds, ice cream, and hours-long conversation with her. Then I go to bed or on occasion boil the water and bathe in my bucket. To be honest, that doesn’t happen all that often. I cuddle up under my blankets, grateful for the woodstove (soba) that heats the wall by my head and keeps me warm all night.
School is going more-or-less well. We read, we translate, we discuss. We learn new vocabulary. Most of the students behave, some do their homework, and a few are “obraznic” (cheeky/naughty). The younger students get very excited when I teach them how to sing Jingle Bells and the older students grumble when I ask them to repeat their response in English. The students are shocked when I tell them after class and in Romanian that I didn’t know a single word of Romanian 6 months ago. They count how many years they have learned English and then they are very impressed. A couple of my 9th graders realize that I still can’t remember which student is which so they make a little cardboard sign and when I look their way to call on someone, they flip it up, revealing their names with arrows to help me out. After just one day with the sign, I can remember both of their names without a problem.
The weather has gotten cold and the days have gotten short. The sun doesn’t rise until after seven o’clock and sets before four-thirty. I enjoy the rare moments when the sun is shining through my large window. The sunsets are usually pretty, and sometimes they are absolutely stunning.
I’ve traveled around Moldova a bit more, seeing Ungheni in the north-west, Criuleni in the north-east, and much of Chisinau in the center. Cathedral Park and Chisinau streets are gorgeous when the snow is falling down hard. One day, I ate lunch in a small cafe that was fully-decorated for Christmas and had American Christmas music playing while watching the snow fall outside the window.
I speak Romanian more than I speak English, and sometimes when I talk to my parents in the United States, I start to say something in Romanian before I realize they won’t understand. Other times, I respond to a teacher at school or my host mom in English before I’ve realized it’s the wrong language.
Overall, life is good here in Moldova.