Wondering what my day-to-day life is like as a school-based PCV here in Moldova? Here’s a taste of what a typical day during the school year might look like for me.
My first alarm goes off at 6:50 a.m. I’m not particularly fond of waking up, so I shut off the alarm. The next alarm goes off 5 minutes later, and a third goes off at 7:00 a.m. At this point, I actually fully open my eyes and turn on my internet (a mobile modem). I spend the next 10 to 20 minutes on Facebook, Instagram, my email, and Snapchat, depending how much I want to procrastinate getting up. Because of the time difference, I often have quite a few messages, notifications, unopened snaps, and emails when I get up in the morning.
If I haven’t gotten out of bed yet, I force myself to actually get up at 7:20. I get dressed (I set my clothes out the night before) and put my hair up and put on some mascara if I’m feeling like it. I visit the bathroom, then go to the kitchen for breakfast. My host mom usually makes my breakfast during the week, so it’s usually on the table for me when I arrive at the kitchen. A typical breakfast might be some kind of porridge (we have 3 kinds), some fried or boiled eggs, or sometimes mashed or boiled potatoes with some carrots or apples on the side, plus a mug of tea. I actually generally don’t drink the tea in the morning, as I try to avoid using the outdoor latrines at school.
After breakfast, I rush to brush my teeth and get out the door by 8:10. My walk to school usually takes around 5 minutes when the roads aren’t muddy or covered in ice, but can take longer when I have to stick to the one paved road through the center of town. If it’s really muddy (anytime it rains), my host mom or sometimes my host dad will accompany to the post office, about 500 meters down from our house, where the paved road begins. I’ll change out of rubber boots and into my regular shoes and continue on my way.
I start each morning at school in the teachers’ lounge with the other teachers. The first class of the day begins at 8:30 but we don’t have to be there until the first lesson we teach, so teachers that have later lessons will come in later. The lessons are 45 minutes long. English is taught in grades 2 up, and each class (grades 2-9) meets twice a week. I teach each class with one of my two partner teachers. This year, I am teaching 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade. I teach 2nd, 3rd, one group of 5th grade, and 7th grade with my partner teacher Liuba. I teach 4th, the other group of 5th grade, and 8th grade with my other partner teacher Ina.
I have anywhere from two to six lessons per day. If I have free periods, I generally hang out in the teachers’ lounge, though that’s more preferable during the warmer months as the teachers’ lounge is the coldest room in the school during winter. The lessons tend to go by pretty quickly, but the days sometimes go slowly. As in the United States, sometimes the students are well-behaved and we have great lessons and other times they are unmotivated or rowdy and we get through very little.
After lessons are over, I plan with each of my partners. Sometimes we also just talk, as the best way for my partner teachers to improve their English is by speaking it regularly. On some days, I might have an English Club for an additional hour after class. Last year I had a huge weekly turn-out and it was a lot of fun! The English Club hasn’t started yet this fall, but I’m looking forward to it and I am also hoping to start a Service Learning Club with a smaller group of motivated students.
When I arrive home, usually around 2:30 in the afternoon, I eat lunch. I’m usually pretty hungry and tired by then! Lunch is often soup with bread, pasta, rice, or eggs with tea or compot (homemade juice). Sometimes I take a short nap after lunch. If I have things that need to be prepared for the next day, I’ll get them ready. Once all my work is done, I might read for a bit or go online. If it’s a shower day (I try to shower every three days), I’ll take my shower so I don’t have to after dinner.
In the months when the sun goes down later, we often don’t eat dinner until 9:00. During the winter when the sunlight is gone by 4:00, we eat a bit earlier. I almost always eat dinner with my host parents. We often eat something a bit lighter at dinner, but not always. Rice, potatoes, or pelmeni (like little meat-stuffed raviolis/dumplings) are typical for dinner. We eat and talk about our days or pretty much any topic under the sun. It’s often one of my favorite parts of the day. At first, it was hard to have these longer conversations in Romanian and I would have to use my dictionary or Google translate often, but now that my Romanian has advanced, I rarely have to use either and we can talk about a wider range of topics.
Around 10:00, I start to lay things out for the next day. I put my outfit for the next morning on my desk chair and make sure my bag is packed and I haven’t forgotten anything. Then, I get ready for bed. I try to be in bed by 10:30 so I can be well rested at school the next morning.
And that’s what most school days look like for me! If you’d like to see another day-in-the-life post from last November which was featured on DesignMom back when I was still using a squat outhouse and bucket bathing, feel free to check it out here.