Surprise, two blog posts within a week! Gotta verbalize this, so I don’t go mad. A strong perception had shaped: I would take my vacation as the new bold buccaneer I am and return revitalized and ready to carry on. Well, despite the self plea, my head and my heart took a gnarley turn somwhere south of motivation.
During my European escape, I pampered myself in sushi, mexican, steak, and seafood, filling every craving that had built up over the months. I had a great meal with even better friends as we exchanged tales of our time abroad; Despite the diverse lifestyles, you’d be shocked by the parallel worlds of a PC volunteer in Moldova and an au pair in Paris. Every city, every meal, every conversation – wonderful. Little did I know, I would suffer from the feeling of it all being stripped away again, just as I did upon my first few days in this country. Months ago, I pledged to my sister, 6 months and I’ll re-evaluate. That milestone came and went. I had my students leading appraisals and I was even fostering intense dialogue with people in my new language. In my eyes, I was ahead of the game and an excursion was just a small interruption of my continual growth. Yet now, its just back to walking the mile-plus route to work in the snow and boiling/filtering water just to stay hydrated and healthy with the only plus being I can now dispell my mother’s stories she always loved to share as I complained: Now you’re not the only one who has to walk to school in blizzards, Mom– oh, and Dad that pet pig you used to claim to ride to work, even that fantasy would be an upgrade!
An endeavor outside of Moldovan borders really illuminates just how poor my new residence is. In the initial phases of my application process, I thought I was headed to Africa or Southeast Asia. The instant my eyes met Moldova, printed in bold in my welcome pamphlet, my mind began to retread of the type of life I would live. My access to certain amenities, the aptitude of seeing friends clouded my vision of a third world country. The corrupt government, the lack of roads, the poorly constructed structures, it all became customary. Now that I have returned, it’s as if this is all propped up under a spotlight. I fully grasped the roller-coaster theory and comprehend it would have been impractical to coast through this journey, but the high’s are high and the low’s, man they are low.
The gut wrenching scene that is the stray puppy bundled up in the corner of a freezing alleyway, the ghastly stench that is our tap water, the outlandish fact that raw swine skin and chicken feet serve as widespread late-night snacks… they all don’t seem so ordinary any more. My rapid progression in language isn’t being rewarded, as it was ostensibly expected. My ceiling of work has been expanded and the prospect of triumph suddenly seems out of reach. I focused so hard on reaching that 6-month point, I sincerely forgot to look past it. What I plodded along to achieve now seems like just ¼th labor, and the cute but obtuse stigma surrounding me has seemingly diminished. It seems as if the excitement to have me back was met at midfield with an equal quantity of fermented surprise that I actually came back. Brutal.
It’s not all bad, as I optimistically reach for some brand of silver lining. I started off the week being pelted by students with wheat grain and popcorn kernels which after my not-so-tranquil early reaction I learned was a gracious tradition to bring in the new (old-testament) year with an aspiriation for a fruitful subsequent one. My pursuit for a new host family half as great as my summer one, is now officially under way as I realize I cannot survive the full 27-month comittment in my existing and isolated situation. Hopefully, I locate an improved host where I will feel welcomed, instead of some stranger that is never invited to partake in anything. Hopefully, my mood begins to rise with the sluggish increase in daily sunlight. And, finally, as my newly achieved liberty suggests I can begin to design my next international expedition within the limits of my struggling bank account.