Monday, December 21, 2009

Fashion Over Function

It is winter in Moldova, and I love it. It isn't the nasty freezing cold winter like back home, but instead it's a "nice" winter, if there can be such a thing. I'm used to the cold, and it's much colder back home, so this is really just a good ol' winter.

I bought some Moldovan boots that are high heeled and go up mid-calf; nothing I would ever wear back home for winter, as I would be afraid I would slip on ice and break my ankles.
The first pair of boots I bought here ended up being for men.
"You cannot wear those unless you are a man or a bunica (grandma.)" my host mother told me, "When you are 70, then you can wear them. Until then you are a lady."
Sadly I returned my men's leather, ankle height, fur lined boots. 
Needless to say, mama was much happier when I came home with boots that were intended for wear by ladies.

I also have my winter coat from home that is working wonderfully,
but host mama is convinced her fur coat is warmer.

I wore my big deerskin chopper mittens to my tutor today; that's the last time I'll be doing that. "What are those things on your hands?" she asked me
To which I replied, "Mittens."
She said "They are very ugly."
I said, "Yes but they are super warm."
"It doesn't matter," she said "because they are ugly."

Summary: Fashion over Function

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moldovans are Awesome Hosts!

We finally got snow! Granted, it's only a little bit of snow, but it's still snow! I didn't realize how much I actually like snow and want snow until it was the middle of December and there wasn't any!

I was thinking, and one of the things I like most about Moldova is how hospitable people are when they have guests in their home. For example, when ladies enter into a house, the hostess immediately gives them slippers to wear around the house because she doesn't want their feet to get cold. If a celebration is occurring such as a birthday, the hospitality is ridiculous! Glasses are never empty, whether they are filled with wine, cognac, vodka, or simply juice. And keep in mind, it's usually wine or juice brought from the cellar for this particular occasion. I learned that in my house, we don't drink the compot (boiled fruits and water forming a juice) unless it's a masa. If you're at a house and there's not a masa, you better be ready to eat regardless. Every time I got to my partner's house on Tuesdays and Thursdays to plan, her mom whips out a delicious meal for us. I also tutor some girls with their English, and after every tutoring session, their mother sets the table with little sandwiches and vodka.
Summary: People in Moldova are really great hosts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stuff I Miss

*Entertainment Weekly Magazine delivered weekly
*Driving my car
*Speaking English to people who know English
*Christmas music everywhere
*Chinese food
*Movie theaters
*Being an hour drive away from home
*Wearing practical shoes versus fashionable shoes
*Being a block away from a gas station in case of snack emergencies
*Ceasars (the drink, duh!)
*Buffalo Wild Wings
*Shopping clearance section at Wal-Mart
*Drinking water from the tap
*My dvd collection
*Hockey games
*Holiday decorations
*Mom food
*42 cent postage (versus 6,30 Lei to America)
*Moxie Java (not working there, only getting free drinks!)
*Living alone in my own apartment

There's a lot more I could add to this list, but as usual I'm using this post as a way to procrastinate doing other stuff.
I didn't add any people, friends, or family because this list would then be 4 pages long. You know who you are! I miss you alllllll so much!!!

*Finally did find a Bloody Mary in Chisinau... 40 Lei later and I was satisfied, mostly. Apparently Clamato Juice is not popular in Europe. Can't imagine why...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Miss You

Family, Friends, and America I Miss You!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Masas, Makeovers, and Moms

We've been having a lot of masas lately. Masas are basically huge dinner parties. Last weekend was my host sister's 18th birthday. We had a bunch of relatives over, and we celebrated until quite late at night. As usual since it was a Moldovan party, we ate and ate, and drank even more. My favorite dish, besides the sarmales, is a salad made of mayonnaise, chicken breast, cheese, and dried bread crumbs. It sounds too simple, and it is, but it's so dang tasty! Last night we had another masa, this time for my host sister's friends from school.  My host parents left, so I stayed to chaperon (although they didn't put it that way. I was "getting to know her friends," which was fine anyway.) The first course was served at around 4:30, the second at about 7:00, desserts followed at 10:00, and a second round of desserts at 10:30. I came home tonight from planning with my partner and another masa was taking place. My family likes to party!

My partner teacher/best friend in Moldova is rockin. She's probably one of the coolest people in Moldova, and she has by far the cutest kids. This is them in the picture above, Nastea and Catea, giving me a make-over. Every Tuesday and Thursday after school, Natalia, my partner, and I go to her house to hang out and eat before we tutor some girls together at their house. Throughout these times, I've gotten to be fairly close with her family, including her mother and father who she lives with, and her husband. I've helped her mother make colţunaş, which is basically a type of Ravioli with either a cheese or potato mixture in it.

I met a really cool kid, Roma, who is a Moldovan high school senior that did a foreign exchange program with the United States for a year. Last year he was in Colorado for a year, and now because of that, he speaks the best English of any Moldovan I know. He uses phrases like:
"Oh my God," "You know, like," and "I fricken' love it."
Totally American and I love it! 
Anyway, he is in class with my host sister, and from her he got my number and called me to come speak about education in America to a youth group he is in called SALVE. This group is amazing and I hope I can become a part of it within my time here in Moldova. It's a group that does peer mentoring for youth and young families. They teach about AIDS/HIV, Tuberculiosis, and other stuff which I must find out! They also give out free condoms which is an awesome thing because safe sex is not particulary concentrated upon in this area. The picture above is of me and some of the kids in the group. Like I said, I hope I can work with them in the future, and I will update if I do!

Thanksgiving was three days ago, and I was here in Moldova. It was a particular frustrating day because I wasn't home with my family eating turkey and having the day off. Instead, I was here in Moldova teaching like it's a normal day. I'd never really been thankful for Thanksgiving when I was in the states, but being here, I realize I really am truely thankful for it. It's a time when I can be with my family! However, my host family here did a great job of making me feel good. Someone from home sent some boxes of Stove Top Stuffing which I made for my host family, and we had leftover turkey from my host sister's birthday party. Along with that, we had rooster jelly (which is as gross as it sounds... chicken boiled in water for 4 hours, taken out to be chilled, at which point the water turns into a jello that tastes like chicken noodle soup, and it's cold. Gross.) and pickled tomatoes (which I have grown to love!) And of course don't forget the house wine! Mmm tasty!
In true Thanksgiving fashion, I am thankful for:
*awesome family and friends back home who supported me when I told them I was joining the Peace Corps, and continue to support me to this day
*emails, letters, and packages. Even if you think the email is stupid, it's not! It really makes me happy!
*a great program manager here in Moldova who has my back when times are tough
*Makoto for burning me dvd's of UND hockey games and Mom for sending them
*a partner teacher who actually wants to work with me, enjoys working with me, and can speak English!
*Sally for teaching me to knit; Moldovans think I'm so cool because I can knit!
*Mom, because she is amazing and always calls me back even though it's super expensive, because she sends me packages with dvd's, snacks, home-made salsa, and other important necessities that I can't buy here in Moldova (you know what I'm talking about, yes mom?) because she sits on the phone (still expensive) while I cry about hating Moldova for a half hour then call back the next day about how I love it, and because she's my rock. Without her, I wouldn't be here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Home Sweet Home

These are some of the houses in my city.
So much for the stereotypical view of Peace Corps and living in grass huts in Africa...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Too Much Time on My Hands

I've been watching a lot of movies and tv shows. I've discovered downloading is NOT illegal in Europe, so I've been going to town watching all sorts of movies. I suppose I should be doing something more constructive instead of watching shows, such as working on lesson plans or maybe even knitting, but hey, I dig movies! So, let's discuss some of the things I've been watching thus far:

Apparently the writers of this once awesome show have forgotten what their jobs are. Now instead of discovering new heroes with differing capabilities, we are reduced to watching someone playing the piano to see colors for five minutes. Not exciting. Now don't get me wrong, this season isn't entirely bad; I'm digging that we are meeting the "family" with all the powers, but I don't care about the deaf lady who sees colors. It was cool the first time, but really, gata! Also, Hiro cannot die. If that's going to happen, I'm done.

Grey's Anatomy
I'm glad Izzie is gone. I hope she doesn't come back. I'm sick of her always wining and complaining, and really, trying to seduce your husband with "I miss George"...? Not the brightest idea sweetheart. I didn't see last week's episode, but I read about it online. Didn't sound like anything too exciting happened. McDreamy is a stud; McSteamy is even more of a stud. Bailey rocks, and I don't like Meredith's laugh.

Flash Forward
A new show that my aunt Liz recommended to me. It's honestly not very good, the writing is bad, and most of the acting sucks. However, for some reason I'm hooked! I'm looking forward to the end and finding out why exactly the blackout happened. Also, super pumped that Charlie from Lost is in it. Read online about the show, and people were super upset about the lesbian kiss scene. Really, get over it.

Flowers in the Attic -movie, 1987
I was reading an article online Top 10 Flims That Traumatized Your Childhood and this movie came up. Luckily, the entire movie is in segments on Youtube, so I watched it tonight without having to wait for my internet to download it. I watched it along with my 6 year old host brother who luckily does  not understand any English to realize what the movie was actually about. He got the point that it was about a mean grandma. This movie was absolutely ridiculous, but not a terrible way to spend an hour.

This is one of my personal favorites I brought with me from home on dvd. Watched it with Adriana last week. It's obviously a pretty bloody movie, but it's so beautifully done that it really doesn't matter. The next day after watching it on my computer, it was on tv here in Moldova in Russian. Even in Russian it is awesome. One of my favorite scenes is when the queen stabs the guy in the conference thing. She does it like it's nobody's buisiness.

Princess Bride
It's a classic! If you haven't seen it, stop reading this blog right now and watch it.

*Stuff I want to see:
-The Fringe (Adriana says it's a "must see")
-Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (I already saw this, but it was a badly downloaded copy)

Any suggestions for other shows I should watch? Let me know!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

La Multi Ani Tata Gazda!

Host dad's birthday was yesterday. We had a huge celebration for him with lots of guests and even more food. And of course don't forget the continuous shots of cognac. We started the meal with three different types of salads, fried peppers, vegetable platters, and much more. After that, the roasted duck was brought out, followed by rabbit. Rabbit is surprisingly so tasty! Next came the sarmale. Oh how I love sarmale. Sarmale consists of a mixture of rice, meat, and carrots wrapped in cabbage leaves cooked in some sort of sauce. Definitely my favorite Moldovan food thus far. After sarmale, we took an hour pause to prepare for the desserts, coffee, and tea. There were two different types of cakes, a chocolate one that almost tasted like cheesecake and a poppyseed/nut cake. Also for dessert was clatita, which is similar to the thin pastry thing that crepes are made out of. They are fried and remind me of pancakes. With the clatita was a cream sauce that had coffee grounds mixed in. So tasty!

I came home tonight, and it turned out we were having yet another party for my dad with different guests. The meal consisted of the leftovers from last night, but there was also a salad brought by some of the guests which was made of potatoes, cheese, and some sort of fish. Not very tasty, but I don't like fish, so that's probably why. I ate a lot again tonight, and had lots of cognac shots to go along with it.

As I'm typing this, I'm extremely exhausted and ready for bed. It's only 10:54, but I was up super late last night, and today was quite an eventful day at school. I had a bonding time with my 6th grade class which I teach by myself. I realized that they really don't understand anything I ever say in English, so we had a discussion on what they want and expect from my class. At the end, we created the slogan for ourselves, "Noi sintem ca familie unita!" --> We are like a united family! Hopefully this will make my students feel more comfortable with everything and make them more excited about learning English.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cognac for Breakfast Followed by a 7 Course Meal

A few weeks ago was National European Language Day, so all the language teachers at my school did a presentation on their language in their language. I did a presentation about English. I had a lot of pictures on my powerpoint, and when the kids saw the pictures of the English Football Clubs, they started cheering and clapping. So that was fun.

A week ago was "Day of the Teacher" which was a European national celebration for teachers. The first two lessons of the day were taught by students, while the teachers all hung out in the teacher's lounge eating, drinking, and dancing. And when I say drinking, I mean there was not only juice and water, but cognac and wine as well. (Keep in mind this is at 9:00 in the morning!) It was really cool because all of us teachers danced the Hora, which is the traditional Moldovan dance, around the teachers' lounge holding hands and such. Then some of the older guy teachers and I danced. *Picture above*  After the first two lessons, we all went into the festivity hall where the students put on a concert for us. They also gave lots of gifts which included roses, boxes of chocolates, and photo albums. (Not sure why photo albums, but it was cool anyway.) After that, all the teachers in my district came to the "Casa de Cultura" which is like a big festivity hall. There was a long ceremony with awards given out followed by some famous Moldovan singers.

Today I went to a family friend's birthday party with my family. It was quite fun. I've learned that in Moldova at celebrations, there are usually at least three courses of food. There was the first course, in which all the food was placed on the table when we arrived: fried chicken, several different salads, eggplant, tomatoes, and of course bread bread bread. I paced myself knowing there would be more to come, but I just couldn't stop with the potato salad thing. Then came out the fried chicken wings. The host put the plate in my face, so I had to take one. You cannot say no in Moldova... Course number three was a roasted goose with mushrooms and carrots. Quite tasty but surprisingly really bony. I went to town on those mushrooms. Next was another meat that was like a meatball with cheese in it. Really good - I had two. Keep in mind that throughout this whole thing, the birthday girl's dad was going around pouring shot after shot vodka and cognac. Finally came dessert with coffee, tea, and two different types of cakes. I had a cup of coffee with a piece of cake. It was a chocolate cake with cherries soaked in cognac. Thinking the dinner was done, I began to relax a bit (foolish, I know) when out came another dessert. This one is apparently the hostess's specialty. It was a pancake like thin thing with a sweet cheese in the middle. Very tasty.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Freaking Amazing & Bootylicious!

We Are RAM
(Roy, Adriana, Miranda)

I have internet, but for some reason my internet hates Blogger and Facebook. When I get these pages to work, they load very slowly and I don't have the time for it!

I've been super busy in my first month of school. I'm teaching 20 hours a week, having Romanian tutoring sessions Monday through Thursdays, and I'm tutoring a couple girls Tuesdays and Thursdays for 2 hours each time. Tomorrow I'm supposedly meeting with a nun who speaks English but wants to learn how to speak better. That should be interesting.

I went to a wedding of an Irish guy I met. I was out with Roy and Adriana at a bar, and as I'm coming back from the bathroom, this eldery guy stops me. (oooh blogger just died on me, but luckily it saves periodically! I told you my internet hates Blogger!) So he stops me and starts talking English to me. Roy and Adriana come over, and after a few rounds we discover he and his fiance, Ludmila, met online. He's from Ireland, and she's from here. She speaks Russian and Romanian; he doesn't speak either of these. So, her son is translating. I can't imagine the kinds of things he must have to translate between them... Eventually we part ways with him inviting us to his wedding. So last week, Roy and I went to the wedding (unfortunately Adriana couldn't come) and we ate and drank all night long.

Today I went to a birthday with my host family. We ate a bunch of food: fried meats and pancake things. I was full when to my surprise they brought out 2 chickens. So, I ate some chicken. I was super full and ready to be done, when they brought out sarmale. I LOVE sarmale, but I just couldn't do it. I was beyond full. Sarmale is a rice, carrot, and meat mixture in either cabbage or grape leaves. I love them. After that, they brought out 2 different kinds of cake. Keep in mind, this is a Moldovan celebration, so of course we were having quite a few shots during this whole thing, too.

Last Friday was "Day of European Languages" at my school. I had to give a presentation about English in English. About 5 people in the room of about 60 understood the presentation, so that's fun. It was for the 7th and 8th graders. I put a few facts about English on the slides with pictures of "English" stuff. They were especially excited about the slide with the English Football Club logos. That got some hollars and a round of applause. Oh how they love their football (soccer) here.

Finally watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Not nearly as awesome as I anticipated.

Going to Romania on November 20th to see the second Twilight movie, New Moon, with some other girls. Oh man I'm excited. I'm a dork, but how I love Edward Cullen :)

Planning a trip to Bucahrest, Romania, Sofia, Bulgaria, and Skopje, Macedonia for Christmas. Going with Adriana and another girl. Originally planned on going to Egypt, but it ended up being far more expensive than I anticipated. This should be a fun trip anyway!

Bought some mascara from a Russian company. The mascara is called "Freaking Amazing Mascara." Also in the catlogue were "Bootylicious Lip Gloss" and "I'm Naughty Mascara." The girl who sells for the company had no idea what these meant so I had to explain Freaking Amazing and Bootylicious...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Woo I'm a Real Volunteer!

Swearing In Ceremony in Chisinau on August 18th. Now we're officially volunteers. The Health group and English Education (which I am) swore in together. After the ceremony, we each loaded up our suitcases and headed off to our permanent sites.

Going for picnics in forests is a common hobby here in Moldova, especially in the northern part. My family has gone several times. This time we climbed a nearby mountain/hill. It was pretty fun, and I saw a crazy little lizard while climbing.

This is my current host family. We are at a cumatria, which is a celebration for a baby's baptism. We got together with a bunch of people at a fancy restaurant, ate a bunch of food and drank lots of cognac, beer, and vodka, and ended up dancing until 3:30 in the morning. We danced the Hora, a traditional Moldovan dance, and I got a bunch of blisters on my toes. But it was definitely worth the blisters!

This is with my extended host family at my host grandparents' house.We stayed for a night. This was day 2. We ate rabbit, which was surprisingly not bad, chicken, potatoes, and of course cucumbers and tomatoes. My host mom's second cousin was there. She makes her own cognac and vodka, and she made sure I sampled each of them several times.

School is going really well. I am teaching 2nd through 9th grades, and I have 19 hours of work each week. I am team-teaching all the classes except one group of 6th graders I teach by myself. Here, I am with a Russian 8th grade class. They had a big birthday party for all the summer birthdays in their class. We ate lots of treats and danced to English music. It was quite fun!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dancing and Singing in Romanian!

Host sister Eugenia and our dog Tom.

This is the Primarie in town. It's the mayor's office.

Mama gazda Alexandra. She wouldn't show her teeth either :(

A delicious meal of chicken, potatoes, salad, and of course house wine.

Today was our performance for our host families. Each group (healthies and English Education) performed songs, dances, and speeches. My group danced and sang a song. I was quite impressed with how awesomely well all the groups did!
After the performance, which lasted about an hour, we ate food with our families that we prepared. The dishes were supposed to be "American" foods. My group made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cookies. Other groups made macaroni and cheese (which was shipped specially from the US!) cucumber sandwiches, banana bread, deviled eggs, egg salad, salsa, and quesodillas. Quite tasty indeed. However, the American volunteers ended up eating most of the American food.
Tomorrow I'm heading to Chisinau with my mom and sister to do some back to school shopping. I'll probably pick up some gifts for my next host family while we're there.
Huge language assessment on Monday. This one's a "real" one, as opposed to the others being practice.
Tuesday we swear in and become official volunteers. After the swearing in, we are picked up by our future school directors and brought to our permanent sites. Super scary.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Want Free Ice Water

In 8 days, I will be leaving my village for my permanent site. I will be at that site for the next 2 years of my life. Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous. However, I cannot begin to describe how excited I am to almost be done with PST (Pre-Service Training). It has been a hectic past 8 (or is it 9?) weeks, and I'm ready to head to my permanent site.
On Saturday, all of us EE kids and the Healthies will be getting together to have a big bash for our families. We are going to be performing dances, songs, skits, and speeches, and we are going to make American food. My group is making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (very simple and very American!) and I think the other EE group is making macaronie and cheese.
Monday we have a huge language assessment, and then on Tuesday we swear in. Yes, that's right! I will finally be an official Peace Corps Volunteer, not just a trainee! After swearing in, I head to my next site.
I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with how quickly things have gone. Although there have been times when I've hated PST and wanted it to be over NOW, it has gone surprisingly fast.

I really miss ice. Ice water, ice in pop, ice, ice, ice.
I also really miss getting a free glass of water at restaurants. It was something I completely took advantage of in America. Here in Moldova, you don't get a free glass of water. You have to buy a bottle. I didn't realize that would be something I would miss.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Does TDY Stand For? Not sure...

I'm currently sitting at the Peace Corps office in TDY. I'm not sure what TDY means, temporary duty something. I think it's a military term.
Saturday night I woke up at least 15 times with the worst stomach ache intestine thing going on. It continued through Sunday and Monday. Monday afternoon I came to Peace Corps where I was told I have food poisoning and given some medicine. I was sent home to rest.
Tuesday morning it wasn't better, so my language instructor made me call Peace Corps again. I was picked up and brought back to Chisinau and put into TDY. I got here yesterday around 10 in the morning. I slept most of the day.
Now it's Wednesday morning, and I'm still here. I'm supposed to stay another night, which is ok with me because they have toilets and showers and tv in English! Hey, it's ok to be spoiled when you're sick.
My stomach is better, but it's still cramping up every so often. I'm on a bread and rice diet, although I've been eating only crackers instead. I don't know how to make rice tasty with just rice. If I could add some soy sauce and vegetables, then we'd be in business!
*Side note: Have lost about 15 pounds so far! Or at least that's what the scale in my family's garage told me!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Practice School - The Busiest Week of My Life

Practice school started on Monday. Practice school is basically student-teaching in a nutshell. I am teaching a 5th grade class with a different number of students every day. The first day was 21 students, then it gradually grew as we gained students each day. Most of the students in my class are going into 6th grade when the school year, but I also had a few girls who are going into 5th grade.

As I teach, my resource teacher (who has been teaching in Moldova for 30 years) sits in the back and takes notes on everything I do.

My days this week have consisted of: language class in the morning for 2 hours followed by a half hour break, then teaching starts at 11:00 to 11:45 with another 15 minute break, then more teaching until 12:45. After that I have an hour lunch break, then I meet with my resource teacher to discuss the lesson and plan for the next day. After a couple hours of that, I head home to write my plan for the next day and make materials.

As you can see, this week and the next two to come are the craziest weeks ever.

On Monday I'm giving my class a test, and then I have tech sessions until Thursday. Thursday I start team teaching 8th grade.

I'm an early childhood major teaching 5th and 8th graders. I am freaking out.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cookin' with the 90's

Yesterday I was making placenta with my host mom. Placenta (while spelled the same as certain female parts but really sounds like pla-chen-ta) is a very popular food here in Moldova. I think I've had it at just about every celebration and at every masa. It's quite tasty! Placenta is different depending on who makes it, but generally it is a doughy outside with some sort of filling on the inside, usually fried or baked. The most common thing to put inside placenta is brinza. Brinza is a type of cheese. There are 2 types of cheese in Moldova: Cascaval which is processed cheese you can buy in a store, and Brinza which is homemade. Brinza has a stronger flavor and usually comes from either a cow or goat. Mama gazda taught me how to make placenta the other day, so now I've been making it like a maniac. We cut the pre-made dough into smaller pieces, spread margarine onto the dough, put a brinza/egg mixture onto it, roll it up, and "paint" it in an egg wash. Then we bake it for a while. Not sure how long; it's different everytime. Last night I made some with brinza, some with potatoes, and one with helva (smashed up sunflower seeds and oil) because I was being experimental. The Helva Placenta was surprisingly awesome!
My family has realized that I love to sing and dance, so an English radio station is always on in the kitchen when we are there. I think they think I'm a musical genious because I know every single American song that comes on including all the words and who sings it. However, musical genious I am not. It's that every song is from the 90's! Many of them are Madonna songs. So I get my groove on while cooking/eating/hanging in the kitchen, and hopefully they have just learned to accept it. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

What a Weekend!

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early at 6:30 to get ready to leave my village for the weekend. I left my village at 7:15, arrived in Chisinau and met my partner teacher at 8:45, and left for my new village at 9:30. The rutiera ride was three hours long. We drove past the biggest forest in Moldova. Also, I have never seen so many sunflower fields in my life. It was beautiful!
We arrived in my village around 1:30 in the afternoon and we went to my school. It was in the process of being repainted, so I could only see part of it. It was absolutely huge!
My host family met us there and we went to their house to eat lunch. They live in the "suburb" of the town where there are tons of beautiful big houses. We ate zama (soup), chicken, and an eggplant salad thing. It was actually quite delicious! Later that night we had leftovers for supper.
We mostly just hung out and talked on Saturday and Sunday until I left at 2:15 in the afternoon.
My family is awesome! My mom sells Mary Kay and is a Russian and Romanian teacher, and the dad is a chief firefighter, but he only goes out in extreme circumstances. I have a 17 year old sister who like theater, Harry Potter, and Twilight! My brother is 6 and he's the cutest little boy ever (besides my own brother Aaron of course).
We have two dogs, one is a boxer pup who will be a year old in October and the other one I have no idea! We also have a HUGE turkey and lots of chickens. There is a neighbor who actually lives in the backyard, and she has kittens. I played with them forever.
My sister speaks English pretty well, but I hardly needed her to translate anything. I was able to speak fairly good Romanian. I was pretty proud of myself.
The rutiera ride back to Chisinau wasn't too pleasant. It was hot hot hot and they wouldn't open the windows because it was raining. There was also a guy sitting next to me who was passed out but kept putting his arm on my leg.
I am really excited to go stay with this new family, but I am also very sad to leave my current family. They are both very awesome families.
I got back my results from my language assessment and I rocked it! I only made a few mistakes. Woo!
It's currently 1:22 in the afternoon. A few volunteers are getting together later to study. It isn't too hot today which is awesome because it's been raining a lot lately.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interesante Moldova

I met my partner teacher today! It was a great experience! She gave me a hug and kissed my cheek. She speaks perfect English. We chatted about her family and mine, and she also gave me information about my future host family. I'm definitely excited to meet them tomorrow. But I'm also very nervous because on the way home back to my village, I will have to take public transportation by myself!! I hope I don't end up getting lost in Chisinau, but with my luck I probably will. Oh well, either way it will be an adventure!

I also had my first language assessment today. I was soooo nervous for it, but it ended up being awesome! I think that's pretty much how it was with everyone anyway.

My cousin and grandma who are visiting from Ukraine are leaving tomorrow. I'm pretty sad. I've gotten pretty close to my cousin. We have been talking boys and many other things.
There are lots of animals here. Everywhere I go I see an animal. Unfortunately very few cats however. But goats and cows cross the streets, and momma turkeys sit on the sides of the roads with their baby turkeys.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours

Yesterday it rained. A lot. My street was flooded. As you can see in the picture, I had to walk through it in order to get home. Not only was there water, but mud mud mud.
One of the most difficult things about living in Moldova right now is the fact that I still can't communicate in Romanian. I know that this is only going on week 3 but it still sucks. I have to use gestures and mimes in order to somewhat communicate with people. Luckily my host sister speaks English, otherwise I don't know what I'd do. I know everyone is in the same boat, but I feel as if I'm in the bottom of the boat slowly sinking.
Had language class for 4 hours today. It was all right. We learned about clothing, how to buy clothes, and sizes.
At 4:00 (which is in 25 minutes) I will be meeting up with the rest of my village volunteers to go to a handicraft exhibit at a basilica in my village. I'm not quite sure what a handicraft exhibit is, but it sounds fun anyway. The girls have to wear skirts and head scarves. It will be quite the interesting experience. I'm just wondering how we're going to stay clean walking through the mud to get there!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One Hot Moldovan Summer

1: Moldova is very hot. Even when it's a "cool" day, it's still very hot.
2:Getting to know lots of awesome Peace Corps people.
3: Danced the Hora, as pictured above, many times so far. It's the traditional Moldovan dance.
4: Romanian lessons are slowly but surely progressing. It's stressful, but definitely worth the work.
5:Moldova is very pretty. Considering all the things I originally anticipated about it (it's the poorest country in Europe) it is gorgeous. Rolling hills and flowers everywhere.
6: Lessons today on Alcohol Safety and Personal Safety. It's funny how people are so scared about the safety here, but according to statistics provided today, it's safer here than in NYC or LA.
7: About to head back to our school for teacher training. It's interesting the differences between American schools/curriculum and Moldovan schools/curriculum.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rockin' Out in Moldova

In Moldova safe and sound!
My host family is very nice. I have a mom, dad, and 12 year old sister. My sister helps me out with homework, and we hang out quite a bit.
I have a dog named Tom and he's a lover. I also have 50 chickens.
The food has been pretty good. Yesterday I had the Romanian version of Roman noodles!
On Sunday the village I'm in had a welcome celebration for me and the other volunteers that are there. There are 2 groups of volunteers, each with 8 people.
We have Romanian lessons everyday for ususally about 4 hours. It gets very tiring and my brain wants to explode, but I'm learning a lot. I was able to successfully tell my host mother a few days ago that I was going to the pizza bar at 7:30 with other volunteers. I felt like a rockstar.
The homemade wine is good.
I've become close friends with some of the volunteers, which is great because we can vent to each other.
Off to eat lunch that my host mom packed for me. Lots of bread, hard-boiled eggs, and a grapefruit I think.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Istanbul- Hot and Humid

Currently sitting at the airport in Istanbul.
Grand Forks time: 5:40 am.
Istanbul time: 1:40 pm.
The weather inside the airport is hot and humid. Yuck. Definitely not used to this.
I'm very very very tired. I got about 2 hours of off and on again sleep near the end of the 10 1/2 hour flight. I'm exhausted and planning on heading for the gate shortly to take a nap until we fly out to Moldova at 4:50.
Once we get to Moldova, we are having a supper with our mentor. I'm not sure how exciting I'm going to be at this supper since I'm running on near zero energy, and I'm pretty sure I smell from the humidity... Oh well!
Meeting lots of fun people. We have quite the group. I'm one of the youngest coming in at 22. It ranges all the way up to several rockin' men who I believe are in their 60's.
There are 62 of us, which seems like a large number. However, I was told recently (about 10 minutes ago) that an average of 40% of each group that is sent to Moldova drops out within the first 6 months. Scary statistic. I sure hope I'm not one of that 40%.
Very tired; ready to take a nap. Missing everyone so much already.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2 Days to Go

I'm sitting at home in Grand Forks anxiously awaiting my departure for the Peace Corps on Monday morning. I head out from Grand Forks at 11 in the morning, and arrive in Philadelphia at 4:30 that afternoon. That night about five or six of us Peace Corpsers (not really a word...) will arrive and I believe we are having a sweet dance party! Nice!
Then Tuesday begins and we have training all day.
Finally, Wednesday we fly out for the big country of Moldova.
I had a going away/graduation party last week. The questions everyone asked me were (in this order:)
"Are you excited?"
"Are you nervous?"
"Are you scared?"
Yes, yes, and yes again. As of right now, mostly scared and nervous. Man oh man. And sad. I'm really sad I'm going to be away from my family for 27 months. Or, as the guy working at the nail salon said while giving mom and I pedicures, "Two years and 3 months! Not 27 months!" Today I had a tea party with my little sister and brother. It was probably the cutest thing ever. Although it was really cute, it made me even more sad.
But as everyone is telling me, this is going to be an awesome experience and I'm going to learn a lot about myself. As I continue to pack and get ready tomorrow, I just need to keep reminding myself this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home

13 days until D-Day.
That's a terrible name for it.... I should come up with something a little more clever than that. I'll work on it...
Anyway, I'm back in Grand Forks, North Dakota, my hometown. I grew up here, all the way through the end of freshman year of college. Needless to say I was happy to move out of here and move to Moorhead/Fargo.
And now I'm back.
Granted it's only for 2 weeks but still.
However, I am glad that I get to be home and hang out with my family for a while. As I right this, my 11 year old sister is asleep in a twin bed that we are apparently sharing even though her own bed is five feet away from this mattress on the floor where I currently lay.
I checked out of my apartment today at noon. It was a very surreal experience. That was my first real place away from home. I did live in the dorms at UND, but I don't really count that. But checking out of that apartment is making everything seem even more real.
Best friend Lauren is coming to town tomorrow to stay with me for a couple days. I'm very excited about that one.
I got a sweeeeet new computer. I'm in love with it.
That's all for now; sister is talking in her sleep and I should probably go to bed, too. (Yes, it is only 9:53 pm, but that's how we swing it in this house.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Send Me Letters and Such

Miranda Mozinski - M24
Corpul Pacii Moldova
Str. G Ureche 12
2001 Chisinau
Republica Moldova

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's All Real Now (Jessi Spano Meltdown)

A couple days ago I got an email from the Peace Corps about staging. I think staging is pretty much a day for us all to get to know each other and sign some papers, and then head out for the adventure to begin...

June 8 - 11:00 am. Leave GF. Grandma already decided she's not coming. Too many tears.
- 12:12 pm. Arrive in Minneapolis. Run to next gate.
- 12:55 pm. Leave Minneapolis.
- 4:30 pm. Arrive in Philadelphia, PA for staging.
*At this point, I am going to a certain point to meet fellow Peace Corps people while holding a sweet sign.
*Dance party follows later that night in hotel room of fellow Peace Corps guy. Woot!
June 9 - 12:00 pm staging starts. Oh my. It's real.
June 10 - 6:00 am check out of hotel
- 4:30 pm Flight leaves for Moldova

I graduate in 3 days and I don't have time for ANYTHING.
Remember the episode of Saved By the Bell when Jessi becomes addicted to caffeine pills and has a major freak out.
"There's no time!!! There's never enough time! I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm... so..... scared!!!"
That is me at this current point in time, minus the caffeine pills.
There is sooooo much to do and not enough time to do it all. I have to PACK and GRADUATE and MOVE and LEARN ROMANIAN!!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

2nd to Worst Vet Visit Ever

I took my cat Bauer to the vet yesterday for her yearly checkup. Overall she's doing really well. The vet said she could stand to lose a pound or two, but I'm definitely not worried about that. Apparently her fur is greasy, too, because she doesn't groom herself very well. I didn't know a cat's hair could get greasy.
Anyway, since I am leaving in 39 days for the great country of Moldova, obviously someone has to take my cats while I am away. Marc, who is a friend of mine, is taking the cats. He has taken care of them for a while (they are half his anyway; we used to live together) so he will be a good dad for them.
While we were checking Bauer in, we had to change their owner information from my info to his. This was extremely sad. Now, I've known for a while that I'm going to have to make many sacrifices while I am in the Peace Corps, but this one is the first and it hit me hard. Changing Bauer and Jack's owner from my name to Marc's name sucked.
I know he will take good care of them, but I already miss them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

27 Months is Really Difficult To Pack For

May 14th - Last day working at Moxie Java coffee shop
May 15th - Graduate from college
May 21st - Last day working at Justice
May 22nd, 23rd, 24th - Move home to Grand Forks
May 31st - Going away party
June 10th - Peace Corps Staging - Where? No idea.
June 12th - To Moldova - Adventure ensues

At some point in there, I have to:
-Clean my apartment
-Pack up everything I own
-Learn Romanian
-Finish student teaching
-Pack for 27 months of Peace Corps

While on the topic of packing for 27 months, exactly how do I do that? I've read all of the packing lists on multiple websites and in the handbook, but when it comes down to it, I'm clueless.
*2 pairs of flip flops
*Clearanced Croc boots
*Water resistant socks
*2 packs of Uno
*Power converter for laptop
*Letter flashcards
*Cuddl Dudds long johns
*Care package from Lauren - face wipes, ibprofen, hand sanitizer, cold reliever, anti-diarrheal pills