Monday, September 15, 2008

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a wireless signal! Or: Ploi-yes we can!

Hello there, friends. I have been able to chat with several of you over the last week that I have been here, but I apologize to those of you I haven't seen online when I've had a chance to use the internet. I hope you're all doing well -- especially you hardy members of the Skeletor crew. Say hello to America for me, and make sure not to trip on all the on-time modernity.

I've been in a SUPERSTUPIDFAST PST for a week now -- learning language at twice the normal Peace Corps speed, and struggling to get my mind all the way here, on my new assignment and my new country, rather than leaving it in pieces in Georgia and Armenia. It's happening, a day at a time, but it hasn't yet become easy and normal to be here. I keep accidentally speaking Georgian in my Romanian classes, for instance, which is infuriatingly annoying. Also, I keep finding myself striding into the street with no regard for street lights, since DRIVERS in georgia pay so little regard to street lights that there's no use in paying attention to them as a pedestrian either. This led to a ROMANIAN PERSON (specifically, my language teacher) chiding me a couple days ago as I stepped into the street despite a "Don't Walk" sign with, "Hey! You aren't in Georgia anymore."

I find myself missing Georgia in weird ways. Romania, at least in the city (I've been told, and really assumed to be true anyway, that the villages are far different, and far more like what I'd be used to from a year in Georgia), is almost obscenely different -- more modern in nearly every way. I find myself getting on buses that leave on time, that don't stop on the street for random people, and I find myself missing marshutkas. I find myself using wireless internet at a restaurant in a mall (like right now, for instance), and I miss having to text people to get information. I find myself with new friends (there are a couple current PCRO volunteers in the city we're training in, and they're great and we hang out a lot), and miss the old friends I was supposed to have one more year with. It's a tough situation, but I signed up for it, and it's better than any other alternative that was available -- not to mention the fact that on a lot of levels I'm really excited to be here and to get to work -- so I get used to it, one day at a time.

It does help that Romania is so modern. Every day I get confronted with things that they tell you, in transition/COS conferences, you will be confronted with when you go back to AMERICA. On Saturday, we went to a supermarket as big as a Wal-Mart, and I nearly fell down. We passed aisle after aisle of variety you couldn't dream of in Georgia, just like most of my friends are doing back in the States right now, and it was difficult for my brain to even handle it. Today, we were at a volunteer's apartment, and they ORDERED PIZZA. And we're NOT IN THE CAPITAL. Not to mention the previously noted wireless internet abilities, or the fact that there are MULTIPLE MALLS in this city. All of this, plus the fact that I am told over and over again that my soon-to-be site, Brasov, is an unbelievable Euro-style city, with skiing resorts all over the place and lots of tourists, and that PCRO volunteers love to go there and are jealous of me for getting sent there (well, almost there -- I'll be working with an NGO in the city, but also with some smaller NGOs in small towns surrounding the city, and living in one of those smaller towns), and I'm dealing with a pretty healthy set of inflated expectations, which any Peace Corps volunteer knows to be a bad thing. It remains to be seen what my actual experience will be like, but the setting and the fact that I'll be living alone (nearly all PCRO volunteers get relatively nice apartments that PC pays for) means that the ceiling of how comfortable I'm likely to be during the next year is pretty high. And yet, as I've said again and again -- enough time spent as a volunteer teaches a person that high expectations inevitably lead to a letdown. So I'm going to try not to let that happen.

In the meantime, I'm just going to try to learn the language as fast as I can -- we finished an entire language manual in just over a week, so perhaps "learn the language" could be better termed "try to keep my head above water" -- and see how the move to site goes. I'll have internet every couple of days for the next two weeks, and then hopefully at my new house, so try to say hi when you can. If you're a fellow refugee, drop me a line and let me know how America is. I miss all of you guys. You Americans, I miss you guys too and I wish I'd been able to get back and see you in August. Romania seems awesome and is way more accessible than Georgia, so you have LESS excuse not to come visit me, haha, but I'll let you know if I can get back to America in the next few months. Until then, see you on these interwebs. I'll be able to post more often once I get to site.

Until next time, friends.

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