Thursday, November 08, 2007

A (very) long time

After being prodded by many to update my blog, and my own embarrassment at not updating all of you, I will start again regular updates.  I will not go into life since I last posted, suffice it to say that life is good.

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.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

well hell

Nothing and everything has happened since I have last posted here. I will try to condense what has happened into edible chunks so that you don't get that bored. Here goes.

Spring has sprung here in little Ciacova. The temperature is getting to around 24 C (76 F) and sunny to boot. The people here tell me that primavara (spring) only lasts for a short time and then the true onslaught of summer begins. I was here last August and I can attest to the brutality of the noonday sun. My mountain-adapted metabolism is not made for extremely hot weather so I am getting ready. I missed taking photos of the early spring flowers but I will get some uploaded when I can.

The second half of the spring semester is in full swing. All this week, I have been giving tests to my students. The current test that I am giving to my students is this: 1) Tell me what constitutes a room. What exists in a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room?, 2). List twenty adjectives with both English/Romanian spelling, and 3) List twenty words dealing with transportation and places that exist in a city. Most of my students have done well with this but those who goof off in class, needless to say, haven't done as well. Asta e. The semester will end June 15.

In late January, the hard drive of my laptop died. Everything that I had on there (music, photos, documents, etc) was lost. I was pretty pissed off but what do you do. I am truly lucky to have a wonderful family and my sister send me a laptop hard drive that is double the capacity of the old one so I am spending a lot of time rebuilding what I had.

Speaking of technology, I now have broadband internet in my apartment. I am sure you are thinking, "What? He is in the Peace Corps. Shouldn't they live in huts and worry about malaria rather than what movie to watch or music to download?". Romania is unlike many of the countries that the Peace Corps serves in. That said, there is still a great need for development here so I am glad to be here doing my part.

Summer is the designated travel time for those of us TEFL volunteers. Last month, Mom surprised me by getting me a ticket to the United States this summer. I will be home for two weeks: from June 27th to July 11th. I better see many of you when I am at home.

I went to Belgrade, Serbia last month and had a blast. It is a beautiful city filled with food good and nice people. I took a lot of photos and will be posting them soon. I will definitely going back there.

Okay, I promise to post more now that I have internet access. Ceau pentru acum.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tis a sad day....

The hard drive on my laptop had a catastrophic failure today. I have had my Powerbook G4 for almost 3 years now. All of the information that is on there is effectively lost to me now. Luckily, I saved my thesis on Gmail months ago and all of the important photos that I had are either saved at home or on my Flickr site. I am kinda stressed out right now about how to go forward but I am working on it and will let you know what happens.

This means I will have to use Microsoft tainted computers for the foreseeable future......

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

all that jazz

Hello my adoring audience. Life is pretty good here at the edge of the world. I have enough in my belly, I am kept busy all of the time with many projects, large and not so large. School is school. As all of you remember from your days as a student, there are classes that are great and the students are well-behaved. And then there are the "other" ones. On Mondays, I have mostly the "other" ones. After getting out of those classes, I feel like strangling the closest thing to me. Other days, the good classes are engaged and actually want to learn. Here is an example. Suppose I give a test that week on different types of fruits and vegetables, all in English of course. Well, there might be eight out of a class of fourteen that are prepared, meaning having pen and paper, and actually know the material. The rest are not so prepared and I have to spend the entire test period telling the kids not to cheat and they will get a 3 on their test for cheating (The Romanian educational system is based on a 1-10 grade scale instead of the 0-100 one that we use). So you can imagine the frustration that I sometimes feel.

On to other things. It has been fairly cold here lately and my heating bill reflects this fact. To heat the water for my shower and to wash the dishes, I have a new water boiler that does a really good job of heating up. The only other source of heat that I have is an electrical radiator that the Peace Corps gave me. Well, without going into detail, my electric bill for December was through the roof. They sent this bill a couple of weeks ago and I paid it. On top of that, they sent me the bill for January today, and while it is not nearly as bad, there is just no way that I can pay it until money is put in my account for February. Needless to say, I am not too happy about the situation.

Ok, enough grumbling. Other than money issues, I am a pretty happy person. I will be taking photos of my town in the near future so that you can get a better picture in your mind about where I live. Lately, I have plenty of books to read due to other volunteers having a large supply books that they have already read. Umm, what else? Ohh, I have been proficient at making pancakes from scratch. None of that boxed mix that you have no idea what is in it. Since it is wintertime, my diet is full of winter foods. Plenty of pasta, potatoes, bread, eggs, and other things that I get to buy when they decide that the poor folk of Ciacova wouldn't mind buying some of it.

Thanks to my family for the cards that I have received for Christmas and my birthday. I love getting them and I love getting emails.

Ok, that is all she wrote. See y'all next time, which will be soon. I promise.


Friday, December 29, 2006

I am still alive!

I apologize for the lack of posts since late October. I will write a long post soon but suffice it to say, I have been a busy person and will detail my travels to you soon.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

This week in Chris

Life here is pretty much the same as the last time that I updated. Things really don't change in small towns like Ciacova, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. On Friday, October 20th, the high schoolers had their Freshman Ball. It was held in the school gym with a long line of tables for the profesors şi profesoaras to sit and partake of the culinary delights that are presented there while the schools stand on the other side of the gym. After a bit, there was something like a beauty pageant where the freshmen girls where paraded around and then judged on various things by a panel of teachers and students; different things like dancing, knowlegde, etc. When that finished, the dancing began. Of course, the seniors girls, loving me as the great teacher that I am, wanted to take pictures of me with them. They then dragged me out on the dance floor where, I will have to admit, I danced for a long time. I left at 1 AM with the dancing still going strong.

Teaching is going pretty well. I am getting into the rhythm of what level I should teach certain classes and how to keep their attention. Just like back in the States, there are great students and the not so great students but I do my best to impart my vast level of knowledge to them and they are appreciative.

Not really much to say. For the most part, I am doing well. The little problems that I have with my apartment continue and there are a couple extra that have popped up but they can be dealt with. Sometimes I get a bit lonely but there isn't really many people my age here and so I spend a lot of time reading and listening to music.

Ceau for now!