School started on September 15 of this year. I am still teaching out of the glorified broom-closet that I taught out of last year but I am fine with that. The Romanian classroom situation is different from that of the American system. Instead of teachers occupying a room and students moving about, it is the kids themselves that stay in the classroom and the teachers move about to their hourly classes. I am teaching all high school students, except for a lucky 8th grade class this year. This situation is a bit better since I do not have to yell as much to my students to be quiet. Unfortunately, I have coerce some students to talk more than they do. I guess that they might feel embarrassed if they answer a question wrong.
After a very hot summer, the weather has definitely cooled down here in Romania. While we haven't seen snow yet in the western part (called Banat), it is only a matter of time. I am thankful that I have had the opportunities to go back to America, where I stocked up on winter clothing. While the western part of Romania is typically warmer than other parts of Romania, when the wind blows through the many cracks that my apartment has, things can get a bit nippy. I don't have a stove or gas for heating. I do, though, have an electric radiator that heats quickly and keeps my room warm when I keep the doors to my kitchen and bathroom closed. As you can imagine, while I cook my meals in the kitchen, I eat them in my living room/bedroom.
Speaking of meals, to keep off boredom at night, I have been cooking all kinds of things. There isn't really a restaurant here in Ciacova so I get to practice often. I recently made some chocolate-chip cookies and my counterpart Judith (the woman that I work with at school) said they were one of the best things she has ever eaten. Even so, there is still room for improvement. For Thanksgiving, I am going to a volunteer's village north of me and I am thinking of making them as my part for the meal.
Though my diet is filled with carbohydrates and fat (I can't imagine my cholesterol levels at the moment), I have consistently lost weight since I came to Romania. When I first arrived in Romania, my weight was 190. When I had my mid-service checkup, my weight had fallen to 176. I am almost sure it is even below that now. I can't wear my jeans anymore with out a belt and I will have to create even more new notches in it to be comfortable.
I can't believe that I have been here since May of 2006. Time has definitely flown by. The end of my 27-month service is rapidly approaching and in some ways, I am dreading it. I have heard that re-adapting to life in America is a bit weird in the first couple of months after returning. I should note however, that my counterpart has asked me if I would consider extending my service for another 12 months but I have not decided if that is what I want to do. I will keep you posted.
During the month of October, myself and two other male volunteers here in Jud. Timiş participated in what we call "Stachetober". For the month of October, we grew out our mustaches and at the end of the month, we decided on who won and didn't win. For some strange reason, the hairs on my lip are now blond (weird) and suffice it to say, I had a poor showing. Even so, it was hilarious. My friend Jon, looked like a villain with his 'stache. Now, we are all growing our winter beards, to which I am better suited.
Okay, that is enough jabbering for now. I PROMISE to keep this blog updated regularly so that you can keep up with all the goings ons in my life.