Category Archives: Random

So Soon

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Sydney posted this link http://www.buzzfeed.com/lucyh3/35-things-you-appreciate-about-america-after-livin-147h on my facebook wall today and I have decided to dedicate a blog post to answer each one of these things.

1. Convenience Stores

-Actually, most of the little markets in small towns work as convenience stores. These small stores are the only places that exist so I buy my meat, milk, and superglue all in one place.

2. Diet Soda

-My favorite soft drink is Diet Coke. I want my Diet Coke back. None of this “light” stuff.

3. Ice

-It’s not so much the ice but the quantity. People usually have ice but if they give you some it’s a cube or two. That just isn’t enough.

4. Ice Coffee

-I don’t like coffee.

5. Online Streaming

-You obviously don’t know how technologically savvy Romania is. This has not been a problem. I can list you 4 sites that rival hulu off the top of my head.

6. Driving a car

-OMG I CAN’T FREAKING WAIT TO BE ABLE TO GO PLACES WHEN I WANT WITHOUT HAVING TO TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT OR HITCH!

7. Froyo

-I’ve had it twice here. Not nearly as good and really expensive.

8. Electrical Outlets

-I’m happy that i won’t have to use adapters for 2 whole months and constantly have to switch adapters to various electronics.

9. Outlet Shopping.

-Ugh. I don’t want to think of how much of a headache that will be.

10. 24 hour drive-thru

-White Castle. That is all I have to say about that.

11. Wi-Fi/3G

-Has not been a problem. I have faster inet here than I had in the states. I’ll miss it.

12. Free bathrooms

-I don’t mind paying 1 leu for the bathroom if it is kept up but when I have to pay 1leu to piss in a hole in the ground with a door that smells like the inside of a sewage plant, I get annoyed.

13. Peanut butter

-I’m not a huge PB fan but not being able to have something makes you want it therefore I liked PB here. It was rarely available in the big supermarkets and really expensive. Like 5 dollars for a small jar.

14. Solo Cups

-The plastic cups here are the tiny little ones that are the size of the bathroom cups you use to rinse.

15. Personal Space

-I was huge on personal space before I left. This has probably changed the most about me. I love to hug and just have physical contact with people when I talk to them. Be it a hand on an arm, a handshake, whatever. I enjoy the lack of personal space more than I don’t.

16. Law&Order Marathons

-It’ll be nice to watch tv on a TV and not on a laptop.

17. No Smoking Zones

-OMFG I CAN’T WAIT TO GO OUT AND BE ABLE TO BREATH!

18. Sushi

-nom, nom, nom. For one person it’s about 60 lei which is hella expensive on an 800 lei salary.

19. Football

-I’ll miss most of football season ūüė¶

20. American Brand Candy

-The only one i miss is reeses.

21. State to State cellphone coverage.

-I’m in the middle of the mountains and have awesome coverage and internet all for about 10 dollars a month. Romania wins.

22. Swim Trunks

-It’s mainly the older generations that wear speedos.

23. Free refills

-I have paid so much for water at restaurants these past two years it’s ridiculous.

24. American Holidays

-I’ll be home for 4th of July. That’s it. ūüė¶

25. Ketchup.

-I love ketchup. Heinz Ketchup. I don’t like European ketchup and I can only get Heinz in the big cities.

26. Household appliances

-One word. DRYER!

27. Separate Checks

-It hasn’t been too bad. My budgeting/accountancy skills shave sharpened these past two years.

28. Pancakes

-These aren’t the issue. Maple Syrup is the issue. 33 lei ($10) for 300ml is highway robbery.

29. Air Conditioning

-My apartment is on the cold side. I have gotten used to the heat and sweating. It’s just a part of life. I’m interested to see how my lungs will react to A/C.

30. Drinking fountains

-We have one at school. It is used frequently but it scares me.

31. Food Delivery.

-Available in the big cities. Here you have to call the restaurant then call a cab to go pick it up for you if you really want it.

32. Screened Windows

-I have one screened window in my apartment that I made myself using my mosquito net. It hasn’t been fun.

33. Store hours

– I actually like this. You see more people enjoying themselves and having more time to relax.

34. Bagels

-I found one once, in a train station in Switzerland.

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Teamwork and Communication Workshop

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This past weekend I did something that, even a year ago, I never thought I would be able to do. I facilitated a weekend long training workshop IN ROMANIAN! I’m not gonna lie i’m pretty proud of myself and ecstatic that it went so much better than I had planned.

About 2 months ago, Loredana approached me with the idea of creating a weekend long getaway for all of the county inspectors to help them develop their teamwork skills while also giving them something they can take back to the classroom. I was a little skeptical at first since it was going to be all in Romanian and it would just be me presenting about 90% of the time. After a few more “please”s I caved and agreed to do it.

The inspectors couldn’t work out a good weekend to attend since they are in the midst of all of the academic olympics competitions so we got the school psychologists to come instead. Matt and Megan were kind enough to offer their help for the training so I had them come up as well.

Friday after school, the psychological county director picked the 4 of us up and we headed to a secluded cabin in the even more secluded village of Fiad which is just over a mountain to the west of me. After dinner, we did some basic introductions and then just had a very relaxed social meet and greet hang out. Around 10pm is when things started getting very interesting. I was working upstairs in my room with Loredana and prepping for the following day when I hear the very distinct “w0oo”s of Megan and Matt. I go downstairs to check out what is going out and it is a full on dance party. Every single person was dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. At that moment I knew this was going to be a fun group to work with.

Saturday started off a little rocky since some last minute changes had to be made to the agenda but since no one knew the agenda except for me, all things were good! We talked about being a team and grouped them off into teams that would compete with each other for the rest of the weekend doing various exercises to earn points. The day was followed by some American football taught by Matt which they got REALLY into. Matt brought all of his flag football gear but that did not stop the group of mainly women to tackle each other into the snow as if they had full pads on. After lunch we had an egg drop activity, jeopardy, and we ended the day with a dance competition which Loredana and I judged.

Sunday morning was more communication activities and the last event was a scavenger hung with a list of 20 things the teams were to find around the cabin/area. Some of them got very creative such as finding pictures of a cow in a newspaper while others wanted to be as authentic as possible and went out into the village searching for a cow they could take a picture with.

After all of the activities we debriefed about the entire weekend and I was really glad to see that some of the participants were very reflective and realized the issues that presented themselves throughout the weekend in regards to functioning as a team and that they were discussing way to incorporate all of the activities into the classroom.

I would not have been able to do this without my amazing fellow PCVs Megan and Matt and I thank them so much for being the social butterflies they are and hanging out when I needed to plan or just recharge.

Overdue Update

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I think I have seasonal depression. These very short days are not benefiting me at all, especially when I wake up and it is still dark outside and will be for another hour or so. I have countered the winter blues by tons of reading. And when I say tons, I mean that during January I have read more books in one month than I ever have in my life. Reading books has helped pass the time and not make me go stir crazy.

I have also slowly been taking on extra projects that I am really looking forward to. I have always considered my service here to be much more than just teaching. I know that I am qualified at other things as well and as much as I try, I know I’m not the best teacher. My kids do end up learning things and I do bring a new perspective into the classroom so I guess not all hope is lost there either. Anyways, back to my other projects. I have been working with Loredana (my community mentor and the new director of the county’s CCD (Educator’s Learning and Resource Center). The CCD, which I have mentioned in the past when I did my PDM training, is the part of the education system that offers continuing education and resources for educators throughout the school year. So I am working with her to put on a communication and team building event for all of the county inspectors. The date is set for the weekend of February 22nd when we will all head up to a cabin in the woods where I, along with some fellow PCVs, will facilitate the workshop. I consider the lack of teamwork¬†exercises¬†that students are given in class as a huge problem because as much as they annoyed me while in school, I now see the benefit of them when I look at how most Americans work in groups compared to many Romanian groups where things aren’t as balanced or the leader is not putting in any effort at all. If this one goes successfully, we are looking to put on at least one more for all of the school psychologists throughout the county.

Another thing that I am looking forward to is our COS (Close of Service) conference. This will be the last time that all of us will be together and as much as I am looking forward to it, I am dreading it just the same. This is to take place the last few days of March. We are all to travel to Sibiu for this time where we will discuss the administrative stuff about leaving, any worries we might have, and just hang out with each other. Meg and I are also planning to visit our friends we made during an event that we participated in this summer in Brasov and I can’t wait to see them either because all of them are absolutely amazing and very strong individuals.

Immediately following our COS conference is Scoala Altfel. I talked about this week-long nationwide event for all elementary and high schools where the educators are asked to do different things with their students and break up the standard way of just sitting in a classroom. You can see some of my posts from last year’s event by clicking here, here, here, and here. This year some of the teachers are looking to go on 3-4 day field trips throughout the country which I plan on attending as well.

The week after Scoala Altfel is spreak break and I have yet to fully decide what I am going to do for this time period. We have a week off this year instead of the normal 2 weeks off and some of the options that I have been thinking about are Portugal, Danube Delta, or Ukraine. We will see which one pans out since I have exactly 6 days left of leave that I plan on using.

Following the very eventful first few weeks of April, I will be continuing with¬†trainings¬†and workshops. If the¬†communication¬†and teamwork one goes well with the inspectors, we will have our second run with the school psychologists sometime at the end of April, beginning of May. I am also working with a former GLOW/TOBE TTT participant who is trying to put on her own camp skills transfer workshops in her city of Craivoa in southern Romania. The participant, Carmen, who is a librarian at main city library and who has taught herself English is extremely¬†resourceful¬†and truly wants to help out around her community. After our training, she put together a mini day camp within the library and now she wants to pass along the information to other adults so they can help put on camps throughout the summer. I am partnering with her to put on two various ¬†1-day long workshops with the themes of “teaching and facilitating team building activities” and “games and songs”. It will be nice seeing Carmen again and seeing what great things she has planned for her city come to fruition.

And last but not least, we have GLOW camp. This year’s GLOW camp will be held the last week of June immediately after school gets out to help better¬†accommodate¬†the PCVs schedules since we have to COS by the end of July. I am very¬†grateful¬†that I will be able to participate in at least one more GLOW camp before I finish a wonderful two year service in Romania.

At the beginning of this semester I thought to myself, “Wow, I have absolutely nothing planned for the last 5 months of service…” Very soon after that, things started coming in and now I am more than occupied with everything. Don’t forget about submitting grad school applications as well. Those are taking up a nice amount of my time too. In the end, I’m glad that I am keeping busy and trying to contribute as much as I possibly can before I leave.

Until next time,

Va Pup

Youth

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Warning: This is a word-vomit thought process/rant type of post:

I’ve had some recent events take place that have really opened my eyes to some things and I have decided to note them all down. This is not towards any specific person.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it means not just to be young, but to be perceived as young, and what difficulties come with that. The main difficulty, I would say, is the assumed ignorance/stupidity a young person contains. Older people assume that just because someone is younger, be it of 8, 18,28, or even 38 years old (relatively speaking) that said ¬†person doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. I still encounter this on a fairly regular basis and it’s not always associated with me. Growing up I was always taught to question everything and one of the most important things that I was taught by my aunt was to call people out on their shit, no matter who they are. At the age of 10 I was empowered to tell my elders “i’m sorry, but you are lying” or “no, you are wrong” if the case were so. I grew up with adults. Being an only child, I always got to hang out with the adults, listen to their conversations, and even engage in them from time to time. I was actually listened to and not just told “You don’t know what you are talking about. You are too young to know anything.” ¬†This proved to be something that has shaped the way that I currently interact with my students. I don’t always consider myself their superior. In fact, the only times I do is when I am giving them tests and grades. I respect them, I expect a lot out of them, and I treat them like adults, because ultimately, they will be. I, naturally, expect this respect and when I sometimes don’t get it, I have to really look back at the situation and analyze it in the sense of, well, after all, some of them are only 14 years old. I also like that this level of interaction not only beneficial to me, but also to them. I learn a lot everyday. Everyone, no matter the age has something to teach us and with that I know that I don’t associate age with lack of intelligence or ignorance.

I know that I am young. I know that I look even younger than I am. I know that I do not act like the most mature adult and I wouldn’t want to anyways. But please don’t assume that just because I am half your age, that I know half as much as you. I know I am young, and I know I have a lot ahead of me, but at the same time, I have lived a life that is very different than yours. I have had experiences very different to yours. I have had more responsibilities in my old job than most people do here, let a lone a 23 year old at the time. There are certain things that everyone is good at. I know what I excel at. I know my strengths, weaknesses, and limits. I consider myself a very self aware person. I am¬†100% capable of teaching you about certain things that you might not know of. I¬†am¬†capable of opening your eyes to different ways of doing things. I¬†am¬†capable of helping you reach a goal you might have in one way or another. What I¬†am not capable of is battling against you. If you do not want to believe in me, even after I have proved myself to others, that it is no longer my problem. I am¬†not¬†capable of indulging your ignorance when it comes to me.

Most people say that the second year of PC is much easier. You find your stride, your projects come to fruition, everything is…calmer in a way. I have found this to be untrue in my case. I have found myself struggling with several aspects. Yes, most of my projects have been very successful, yes I am more at ease within my surroundings, no things are not calmer. I have already hit several road blocks this school year that have proved to be very challenging. These range from grades, relationships with¬†colleagues, gossip, and the what not. I have taken everything in stride and have dealt with everything as well as I have been able to but the time has come when something has finally made me stop and rethink everything I have done in the past two years. This recent series of events has me questioning and doubting myself and my projects more now than when I started. I have come across people that have qualms about me being here or question my methods or downright have an issue with my methods. I guess this didn’t really happen much the first year because these things usually come out after a certain level of comfort is reached by both parties and people assume that they know you well enough to judge you, your methods, your theories, hell, even your way of life.

With all of this negativity, I have developed a tougher skin, kind of. It has definitely made my life and my service that much more difficult but it has also brought me down to earth. In the back of my mind I knew I wouldn’t be able to make everyone happy and please everyone but no matter how much I was aware of this fact, I regreted to¬†actually¬†admit it until you I found myself head on with the issue.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that “haters gonna hate” and even if you may not be satisfied with my performance know that many people are including myself.

Things I love [read: hate]

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When my washing machine in my new apartment decides to dispense all the dirty water from the load of laundry that i’m doing not into the tube that it is supposed to be connected to but all over my kitchen floor…at 1 in the morning.

I’m having some great luck with this apartment so far.

On the bright side, I have a washing machine.

Summer Is Here!!

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Well, almost anyways. This past week was the easiest week of teaching ever considering my teaching hours went from 21 to 10. The senior classes finished at the beginning of June so all i have left are 2 10th grade and 2 11th grade classes. The class periods were quite entertaining and as usual, a little too loud at some points since we were working in groups and competing. I had the students do a teamwork activity that I got from another volunteer that required them to build the tallest tower they could out of spaghetti and gum (yeah kinda gross but, asta e) while only speaking in English. It was really amusing to hear them trying to communicate if they didn’t know a specific word.

This week and weekend felt like it lasted so long because I did so many things. Wednesday, I along with a few other friends/teachers celebrated a fellow teachers birthday. Thursday I attended the opening of the new exhibit at the art museum and Friday I worked at school all day for the train the trainers conference and then played some very exhausting games of tennis. This was followed by a quick shower and then I headed back out to the folklore dance practice to hang out there. It was good hanging out with those students that are part of the ensemble and the older members as well that I don’t get to see very much because they are away at college. They are all awesome and so much fun.

Saturday morning was slow paced and relaxing which was nice and this was the day that I finally settled on an apartment which I will be moving into the weekend of the 28th. Aka when I have a bunch of people in town so they can help me move as well :). My next order of business is to start packing up my apartment here and I am not looking forward to that whatsoever.

Sunday I was woken up by a drunken phone call by none other than Danijela and Stefi because their cabbie was Romanian. Naturally, they put him on the phone to speak to me and we had a nice little chat. This is not the first time this has happened… After finally rolling out of bed, I headed on an easy hike with Loredana and Teo. We headed over the hills to the “suburb” of the city if you will which even with all of our stops to pick flowers, took no more than 2 hours.

When we got back into town, I went home to get ready and then headed back out to watch the finals of “Somesani Sunt Talentati” aka Somes(the valley that I live in) has talent. It was a local version of Romania’s got talent and the winners were awarded a pretty penny. The winners ended up being the Jokers. If you recall, they are the school’s street dance group that is made up of my students and they did an awesome job!

On a random note, my gas tank for my stove is empty. I was in the middle of cooking dinner last night and it just gave up and so did I. I said Eff this and just left the food how it was and was so stubborn that I refused to eat anything else. I am here for 3 more days before I leave for a while and then when I come back I will have to move so I am refusing to buy a new tank until I move into the new apartment. Looks like i’ll be eating a lot of sandwiches for the remainder of my time here.

This week will be filled with just a whole lot of packing, trying to not die of heat exhaustion, and getting ready for Darcy and Joanna’s visit. I am heading down to Bucharest for a doctor’s appointment at the end of the week and then I will be spending the weekend with my gazda family in Targoviste where I will get to see Denisa, my gazda sister that has been in England all year at college. From there I will head to pick up the girls in Budapest and then our adventure will begin.

Until next time,

Va pup

TTT

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Just a short update of what I have been up to lately which isn’t anything very exciting.

This past weekend was a four day weekend since May first was Labor day so us in the schools got Monday and Tuesday off. Friday I got off of school as well because I went to Cluj to meet up with some people that I am working on the Train the Trainers project with that I have previously mentioned. Group 27 was there for their COS conference (close of service) and since Brad is in 27, he was there, along with our PC counterparts, and our NGO counterpart Ale who lives in Cluj as well. We got a lot done and finalized the application which went live today and has been sent to Romanian professionals throughout the country. I can’t believe how far we have come with this conference and how much support we have received from the entire Peace Corps office in Bucharest. I can say we are very fortunate to have work with such awesome people.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday was spent hanging out in Cluj with Mary and just being outside in the 80 degree weather.

Monday was extremely relaxing for me. I let myself sleep in till noon then took a two hour nap from 1-3. Yes, I know, I’m a bum. After that I headed out to one of the hills for a little hike and some alone time. The hike is decently steep but fairly short and within 40 minutes I was at the top overlooking the entire town and enjoying a great view. I hung out on the hill for about an hour or so just relaxing and enjoying my own company.

Tuesday was spent as the Romanians say “in verde” literally translated means in the green but it actually means outside in the forest/fields/nature. I still can’t believe that the weekend before I left for spring break it snowed and this weekend was in the 80s. Apparently in this part of the country, spring doesn’t exist.

That’s all that has been going on lately. I’ve been hanging out with friends/teachers/and students in my free time and enjoying the fact that I can be outdoors again.

Until next time,

Va pup!