I have officially been in my host family for a week now though the consensus among most of the M31 volunteers is that it feels more like a month. My host family consists of a host mother, host father, 2 host sisters (though one is in America working for the summer), and a host brother. My host brother and sister that are still here in Moldova are close to my age (28 and 27, respectively) so it is nice to have people around that are close to my age. My host mother is a medical assistant at the hospital across the street from our house and my host father owns an alimentara (kind of like a general store) on the main street in our village. My housing situation is pretty ideal: I am located in the center of the village (which is great because Costesti is a huge village), my house has been recently renovated, I am fairly certain there is some sort of A/C situation going on here (and if not, this is the most naturally cold house I’ve ever been in), my room is quite spacious, and I have quite literally not had a bad meal since I’ve been here.
There is, however, one aspect of living here that I am still adapting to. We have an indoor bathroom, containing a regular/Western toilet, but due to some plumbing issues, we use an outhouse instead. And what’s more than that? That outhouse is complete with a squat toilet. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I recommend that you Google it because any description I offer will not be able to do it justice. While I had a minor breakdown the first day I was presented with this challenge, I have since embraced it and approach it everyday as yet another new adventure to be had in Moldova.
Besides the bathroom (oh, my bad, toilet) drama, life in Moldova ain’t too shabby. My American mom asked me today if I had lost weight and I just laughed because, honestly, with the amount of pâine (bread) they pump into me here, there is no way on this great Earth that I am coming back to the states shy of 3000 lbs. The food is absolutely outstanding and the produce is like nothing I have ever eaten before. I have been raised on GMO produce and meat filled with hormones and did not realize that non-modified food could taste the way it does. Anyone that knows me knows that I abhor tomatoes…like I will tell waiters at restaurants that I am allergic to them just to make sure that their nastiness does not massacre the integrity of my sandwiches. The tomatoes here in Moldova? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame. I actually managed to eat half of a tomato on my first day at my host family’s and I was lowkey (and by lowkey, I definitely mean highkey) proud of myself. I have since eaten fresh cherries, which I
am obsessed with, chicken from the backyard, which I have to actively not think about, soup with homemade noodles, homemade bread, and a lot of other interesting meals. If I were to judge my Peace Corps placement based on food alone, I’d say I got pretty lucky.
This past week has been nothing short of an adventure filled with joys, frustrations, laughs, and tears. Living in another country where you are unfamiliar with their language and customs is pretty scary and takes a significant amount of wherewithal to withstand everything that gets thrown at you. My biggest frustration, I think, is my inability to communicate effectively. I lucked out with my host family because my sorā gazda (host sister) speaks very good English so I have a built-in translator at home, a luxury that some of my comrades do not have. She lets me know what is going on and will translate conversations between my host parents and I. However, there are times when Romanian is the predominant language (as it should be) and I find myself trying not to become frustrated with my lack of knowledge in the language. The Moldovans that I have interacted with have all been very supportive of my language learning and have FAR more faith in my ability to become an effective communicator than I do. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, I will be able to hold a pseudo-intelligible conversation with locals instead of just using my refined people watching skills to try and absorb everything happening around me. Guess we’ll see, huh?
P.S. My host father thinks that Donald Trump is connected to the mafia, which might actually be the best thing I have ever heard.