Monday, September 12, 2011

6 month anniversary!

six months ago i was standing in line for customs to enter kazakhstan & i burst into tears. the weight of the international move, lack of sleep, and intense meet and greet for the past 3 days had caught up with me & i was overwhelmed. thank goodness for the welcoming smiles of the peace corps kaz office staff & the corny big bars & water they had waiting for us.

it has now been six months & that time & that girl seem so very far away. my first thought was, "say what?!!? it has only been six months?" immediately followed by, "holy cow!!! it has been six months already!" time here seems to move in a very different way. when i measure time by the accomplishments i have made and the changes i can see within myself it is hard to believe that it all took place in the short span of 6 months. it has certainly been the most challenging & life changing 6 months of my life. & i can honestly say that without feeling like i am exaggerating in the least.

so i have decided to post some of my favorite pictures from my times here so far & things i have learned, eaten, etc. in celebration of the past six months.

some of my favorite things about kazakhstan: the people. they are truly hospitable and welcoming. without the many great locals that have been a part of my life here i would not have made it. they are what make getting up in the morning worth it. chai.i love tea. i love that we drink it here allllll the time. (though i will admit there were times over the summer when i did not understand the need for hot tea in 112 degree weather) i love that there is always time in the day, no matter how busy you may be, to take a break, sit with friends, & just drink tea. glittery wall paper.glitter and rhinestones of kinds actually. i love that the sparklier it is, the more trendy it is. chechel.i love chechel. it is kind of like smoked string cheese. except the cheese strings are much thinner. it is chewy & salty & delicious.

things i am most proud of since being here: sticking it out.number one. peace corps is hard. being away from friends and family is hard. somedays all i want to do is hop on the next plane home. sticking it out through the lowest lows takes a strength i didn't know i had & a strength that has been & will be tested again & again. learning a new language.i can speak kazakh now! granted i sound like a five year old, but i am proud nonetheless. six months is a short amount of time to make the progress i have made. & kazakh is such a unique and interesting language to be learning. writing a textbook. i am not qualified to write a textbook. i don't even know where to begin. but i managed to put together this book that is working in my classes so far & looks professional! i am certainly proud of that. saying yes more often. i have made it a goal to say yes to as many opportunities as i can. things i would normally turn down in a heartbeat at home have led me on adventures here i will never forget. from jumping across rooftops to singing in kazakh in front of a crowd.

things i have eaten: horse meat.i have now had horse meat in a couple dif. forms. i can't really tell that much of a dif. from beef in all honesty. kort. kort is a fermented cheese of some sort. it looks like a rock and is powdery. it tastes like a really stinky, sour parmesan. it is super dry so if you bite off too much your mouth starts to stick together. beshbarmak. of course. the national kazakh dish. lasagna noodles topped with meat of some sort, broth, and onions. eaten off one big plate with your hands. & yes, it still burns my fingers & i still make a mess. sheep's ...i've pretty much had everything you can eat on a sheep minus the eyeballs now. organ soup, cheek, brain, gum... kumis. fermented mare's milk. i heard about this before i even left. i have to is growing on me. i may even like it. is kind of tastes like kort except in liquid form. it has a smoky aftertaste (to me) & i think it quenches your thirst nicely after a big plate of beshbarmak.

habits that will be hard to break back in the states: drinking out of anything but a bowl. eating with utensils. not sticking my personal utensil into every dish on the table. inserting random kazakh or russian words into everyday conversation. taking my shoes off before entering the house. throwing my toilet paper in the trashcan. carrying toilet paper everywhere. answering my telephone no matter what i am doing or where i am. covering my cup with my hand to show everyone that i am finished.

habits i am still having a hard time breaking here: sitting on the ground. we can't sit on the ground here, we will become infertile. sitting at the corner of the table. you will become infertile. standing with my hands on my hips. i could become infertile. this one is a toughy. years of cheerleading have taught me this is the place my hands ought to be. reaching for my tea with my left hand. this is a no, no. i forget often. paying money in the evening or later. it is bad luck...and i always forget. which leads to an awkward standoff that results in me finally realizing the mistake i have made and having to leave the money in a random spot for the person to pick up later.

insights i have had: take it one day at a time. looking past that one day is overwhelming and it keeps you from living in the moment. patience really is the greatest virtue. it is so easy to become frustrated. but being patient makes everything easier & life so much more enjoyable. mistakes are inevitable, it is how you react to them that matters. i taught my last lesson today with my fly down & my hot pink underwear flashing for all to see. things like this happen. being able to laugh about it has made my journey much easier. i am still working to be able to do this with all my mistakes. take a moment & remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. caught up in the little day to day dramas it is easy to lose sight of the big picture. it is important to take a moment and reflect on why you are where you are. being able to say out loud the goals you are hoping to accomplish makes it much easier to deal with the hurdles along the way.

hope you enjoyed,


  1. love this!! makes it easier for you to be gone to know how you are growing!

  2. Wow! This is awesome. Very admirable! I'm so happy you are enjoying your time, dude!!! Makes me wanna go!

  3. You are amazing Emily! And just like the sunflowers in my garden, growing more and more every day! I know your Mom & Dad are so proud. :)

  4. Who is this mature young woman (minus the open fly) and what have you done with my Emily? Seriously, I am so very proud of you and am glad you have followed your dreams even when there are times that it gets bumpy. Continue to make new friends and cherish the special moments. All too soon you will be on to your next big adventure. Love you.

  5. Love love love it!!!:) so glad you are learning and enjoying your time!! :)

  6. Em, I want to hear more about what you're doing! Are you teaching ESL classes? I love that you wrote a textbook, even if it's just a functional one. When you get back, you could fill in the blanks and publish!! Also, I never knew so many things could close one's womb...