The past few days have truly been a whirlwind. In 4 days, I have left behind a life, a country, and a culture that I have known for 25 years and have been thrust into a completely new and different country with their own unique culture and traditions. So, what’s been happening since M31 (my class) landed in Moldova?
Day 1 (June 2nd)
Upon arriving to the airport in Chisinau (kee-she-now), we were greeted by our M30 (the class that came in last year) mentors and staff of the Peace Corps office here in country. After collecting our luggage…well those of us whose luggage actually made it…we were put onto busses and taken to our hotel in the city. Immediately upon arriving at the hotel, we were given dinner at Andy’s Pizza, which is a popular chain of pizza restaurants in the area. The pizza is good, but definitely not like it is at home…we were just so thankful for food that I honestly think we would have eaten anything. After finishing dinner, we were taken into a small conference room where we were given preliminary safety information. While we were doing our best to be attentive, it only took one short glance around the room to figure out that we were putting more effort into staying awake than we were to retaining the information being presented to us. At that point I am fairly certain that we could have all starred as extras in a zombie movie because that is definitely what we all looked like. The meeting finished and we were ushered into the lobby group by group to collect our phones/sim cards and to check into the hotel. Peace Corps gave us the option of using a phone provided by them (basic Lenovo smart phone) or to bring our own unlocked phone to which they would provide a sim card. I brought my own phone because I literally cannot figure out how to use any phone other than an iPhone so now I have a Moldovan phone number, which I am probably never going to be able to memorize. We were left to our own devices after all of this (about 5pm or so) and I elected to just go to bed. I went up to my room (which was an adventure in its own right) and got things in order for the next day and was in bed by 7:30 that night. Thanks jet lag.
Day 2 (June 3rd)
After waking up from a horrific night’s sleep (again, thanks jet lag), it was time to get started for the day. This day was scheduled to be full of language and information sessions that would help prepare us for moving in with our host families on Saturday. During the language sessions, we covered basic information and learned how to form a couple of sentences about ourselves. “Buna ziua. Eu sînt Morgan. Sînt din America din Kentucky. Sînt profesoara de limba engleza si voluntara în Corpul Pacii. Îmi pare bine. La revedere.” While this is all fine and well, it did next to nothing to prepare me for being thrown into a household where English is not the predominant language, but I digress. It will get easier. Anyway…after a very long day of Romanian, our mentors took us on a brief walking tour of Chisinau and showed us the touristy areas of the city as well as pointing out the grocery store most likely to have ex-pat food items and the areas with good restaurants. That night, a group of us went to dinner together at a pub where I had what might have been the freshest salad I have ever eaten (get used to me talking about produce because it’s definitely going to be a thing). After getting back to the hotel and into my room, I took the rest of the night to try out the call function on WhatsApp with my dad and work on reviewing the Romanian I had learned. Besides being awoken by fireworks around 10:30pm, it was a much better night’s rest than the one before.
Day 3 (June 4th)
Today was the day. We were all being separated from one another and introduced to our first round of host families. Needless to say, we were all a bit stressed. After breakfast (where I ate eggs for the second day in a row…I’m trying my hand at this adulting thing, okay?), we met as a large group at our Hub site to go over basic host family information and to have a cultural dos and don’ts session. These are some of the things that I am going to have to work on: Don’t sit on the floor because it’s considered rude. Do remove your shoes before entering the house. Don’t make direct eye contact with random men on the street and especially do not smile at them. Do not get offended if a man completely bypasses you during introductions because that’s normal. Anyway, it’s a work in progress and I have noticed that Americans smile A LOT so that probably is kind of weird to see…makes us kind of look like we are all a little psychotic maybe. Oh well. After receiving our medical kits, additional medications, and our Brita filter, all of the sectors were split up across villages that are in close proximity to Chisinau (since we have to travel there once a week). The EE’s, or English Educators, were all lucky enough to be placed in one village. The village we are living in is called Costesti (kohs-tesht) and is one of the largest villages in Moldova at 12,000 people. We arrived on three separate rutieras (minibus type things) and were delivered to our host families bus by bus. I was in the last bus to be guided to our houses so we sat waiting outside of the mayor’s office building for about an hour and a half when, in all actuality, I probably could have just walked to my host family’s house seeing as how they live directly off the main road. However, eventually I was taken to my host family’s house, where I was greeted by my English speaking host sister and my not-so-English speaking host mom and dad, but they will get their own blog post as I’ve already droned on and on in this one.
Well, there it is. My first few days in Moldova. It’s been an adventure so far and I am sure that it will continue to be so.