Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Day in the Life of Lankaran Jane

So, this particular blog posting goes out in honor of my dad. Recently, I was talking to my parents about the many reasons I haven't posted much in the past few months. One of the things I said is that there just isn't really much to write about, my life has settled into a routine. My dad pointed out that my routine here is far different from anything back home, and while it might not be interesting to me any more, people at home would probably be interested. He proposed “a day in the life” blog. So, Dad, here you go...

Like I said, my life has become quite routine. I am fully aware that it is nothing like my routine at home, but still, to me, it seems quite uninteresting now.

Most mornings I get up around 9 am – my earliest class is at 11:20 – leave it to me to create a teaching schedule that mimics a retail schedule of being able to sleep in a bit. Since it is winter, getting out of bed is difficult. I am lucky, I have an electric heater in my room that keeps is about 10 degrees warmer than it is outside, but still, when it is 30-40 degrees, outside, even 10 degrees is cold. I typically sleep in warm pj pants, a t-shirt, a sweat shirt or long sleeve t-shirt, socks, a hat, and some times gloves. At night, I bury myself under a sheet, wool blanket, and my super warm Peace Corps sleeping bag. And still, getting out of my cocoon every morning is tough.

I get up and go through the normal stuff – brush my teeth, wash my face, etc. I have breakfast with the host fam. Breakfast is usually bread, cheese, jam, and tea. We sit in the family room – the room with the petch (gas stove) heating it. Most mornings, my host mom and sister watch some kind of soap opera while we eat. I think the current one is Iranian.

After breakfast, I get ready for school. I never expected it, but I have gotten into the Azeri habit of wearing the same outfit for a week straight. When it is what everyone else does, it doesn't seem strange. In fact, the times I DON'T wear the same outfit two days in a row, I feel a bit odd. My, how things have changed. Layers are key – every day I wear long underwear, pants (or a skirt – if I wear a skirt, I add tights to the layers), socks, long underwear shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a sweater. In December I bought some azer boots at the bazar. They are fleece-lined and uber warm. When I go out of the house, I add my coat, hat, scarf, and gloves.

And then it is off to school. On my long days, I teach 5 lessons – 2 sections of the 7th form, 2 sections of the 5th form, and 1 section of the 6th form. There are good days and bad days. Most days, the 7th formers are WILD. Sometimes it is fun wild, and some days it is super frustrating wild. The days I can tap into their energy and focus it into the lesson are truly great.

The other day, one of my little 5th formers, Sevinj, would not stop talking. She tends to be a chatterbox – I often wonder if she was in the states if she would be diagnosed with ADD or something like that. I don't remember what I was trying to teach, but she kept interrupting. I tried all of my tricks – each halting her for a moment, then she would start again. Finally, at my wits end, I just said, “Sevinj, HUSH!” And they LOVED it! The other kids giggled and repeated it, and Sevinj also giggled, and then quieted down. And for the rest of the lesson, she was good. And since then, “hush” totally works. They still giggle, but then settle. It is awesome!

My counterparts are constantly worried that I am too cold. Even with my seven million layers, they keep telling me to go sit by the petch and put on my coat (I usually keep the hat, scarf, and gloves on). There are days I fight it - “no, I'm fine.” “If I get too cold, I'll put my coat on, I promise.” And there are days that I just give in and put the coat on. I know that they have my best interest at heart, but it can be hard to take sometimes.

I'm done with school at about 3:30 everyday. I go home from school, find something to eat, then either take a nap or go for a walk around town. It is really easy to go stir crazy here, so I try to wander for a bit every day. I try to come up with places to go – visit one of the sitemates or to the post office or to TRY to get online or something. I pretend it is helping my be healthy – since I haven’t really been able to find a way to exercise here. Honestly, I think it really only helps my mental health. But that is good enough for me!

There doesn’t seem to be any regular supper time – it can be anywhere from 4:30 pm to 9 pm, and anywhere in between. Like at breakfast, we all sit in the family room and watch tv – often flipping between the soap opera of the day and the news. My host sister likes the news, my host mom always puts up a fight for the soaps!

Then, most days, it is into my chilly room to read, study, or try to do some lesson planning. Twice a week, I get to take a shower – or bucket bath, depending on how the water is that day. While I have gotten quite accustomed to only bathing twice a week, there is still nothing better than shower day!

I head to bed around 10 or 11 – I think I can understand why bears hibernate… when it is constantly cold, the best choice really is to just sleep through it. I snuggle down under my layers and layers of blankets, and succumb to dreams that are usually a weird mix of home and here. And that is a day in the life of Lankaran Jane.