Sunday, March 20, 2011

one week down. only a few more to go right?

i have officially survived a week in Kazakhstan. it certainly feels like it has been much longer. the days seem to stretch on forever here. it is 7:30 pm right now, and there is still light outside. my basic schedule is this: wake-up, get dressed, drink chai, brush teeth, get bundled up, 20 minute walk to school on a very icy sidewalk with tommy and josh, Kazakh class, lunch, technical training, get bundled up, walk 20 minutes home with tommy and josh, drink chai and eat dinner, hang out with host mom, watch Russian mtv, brush teeth, crawl in bed and read/sleep. phew.

my Kazakh classes and technical training are from 8-6ish everyday with an hour for lunch. as you can imagine at about 2:30-3 during Kazakh class we all get rather giggly from sitting so long and trying to push so much Kazakh in our brains. so far we have learned how to ask and answer, what is your name, how old are you, where are you from, are you married, what is your profession, what is your telephone number, and what is your address. we also learned (though i struggle to remember) the days of the week, how to ask and tell time, numbers all the way to the thousands, how to say i am going somewhere, happy nauryz, and some very basic grammar. i happen to think that is pretty impressive for only one week. i went from not understanding a word from my host mom, to sitting at dinner tonight talking about my sister and i having an apartment in the states and the schedule of my Kazakhstan peace corps adventure. (she thought that when i left her house in may that i went back to America. i wish haha. she was thoroughly impressed that i was staying in kaz for two years and asked if my mom cried. yes. she said she wouldn’t let aidana go.) i think i have come a long ways in just a week. apparently i still have a ways to go.

yesterday i got home late from school after going out to a café with the other volunteers in my village. i told my mom i would be home around 6ish. she called when i was late, my bad, so i texted her and said i would be home in 2 hours. apparently at some point i missed that we were supposed to go banya together. when i got home she hurriedly explained we would go banya and told me to get my shampoo. i thought we were going to a public banya and grabbed a towel and shampoo and we were out the door.

side note: banya is very popular in kaz. it is basically like a sauna in America except you bathe in it. there are both private and public banyas in kaz. public banyas are divided by gender and everyone is nakey. you basically get super hot and sweaty and then rub yourself down with hot soapy water. you use a scrubbing thing to wash with that exfoliates. you can literally see the layers of dead skin falling off of you. kinda cool/disgusting. then you wash your hair and dump a bucket of water on top of yourself. tah dah! you are clean for the rest of the week. kinda.

so when we got in the car and started driving towards almaty i knew we were going to my host mom’s parents house in caymacay, a little village about two minutes away we got there and my host mom took me straight to the banya and told me to strip down while she did the same. i am typically super shy so banya-ing with my host mom=super awkward. it was fine though. minus the fact that i had forgotten my water bottle in the morning for school that day so i was super thirsty all day and then we left in such a hurry that i forgot to grab water again. so the hot banya didn’t help with the dehydration and i felt a little faint a couple times. my host mom made me go stand by the door where it was cooler. i couldn’t sit though. (in kaz we were told that many ppl believe that if a women sits on the cold floor they will become infertile. at orientation pc staff said to “protect your ovaries!”) after banya we walked back through the snow to the house and drank some chai. then they showed me to my bed for the night in my host uncle’s house. big miscommunication.

i had no idea we were staying the night. my phone had no balance so i had no way to get in touch with anyone. i was also so thirsty and there was no filtered water for me to drink there. not to mention i have been completely spoiled and at the grandparents house i have to trudge through the snow to use the outhouse squatter. anywho i survived the night and got a big bottle of water when i got home this morning. i even added a crystal light package since i felt like i deserved it. (thanks ms. sunshine! ;) that has really been the only big misunderstanding since i have been here, and i think that makes me lucky. other kaz 23 trainees have had way worse encounters including robbery while they were away (luckily none of the pct’s stuff was taken, just the host family’s valuables), police encounters, and host families that don’t want them. i am pretty lucky. thanks for all your prayers!

today i met up with some other trainees to see each others houses and walk to the bazaar. i didn’t buy anything, but i really wanted some shoes and clothes. next time! i’m a shopaholic in kaz too. =) i didn’t see any Russian nesting dolls, sorry mom! we also ate in a café and then i came home and washed my clothes. (double bucket system) i have 8 weeks to go until training is over…the countdown has commenced. this week we will host our first English club for the college students. the head of the English dept. told us to expect close to 100 kids. we are going to do a an American film club, which i think will be pretty sweet. it is also nauryz here this week. all the students are out of school and the adults out of work (not us though) to celebrate the new year! the big celebration is tuesday and we have been invited to watch. i’m super excited about this. friday all the other kaz 23 trainees will be coming here for a hub day and saturday we all get to spend in almaty to play around and practice putting our lang. skills to use. we might get a little lost asking for directions in a new language. can’t wait.

thanks for the package of reeses mom & pops! my Kazakh class, Roman, & host family enjoyed them! i am still enjoying them secretly in my room. ☺

fasten your seatbelts,

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