Friday, July 31, 2015

10 Questions About My Peace Corps Life

“I love you. I'm proud of you. Now go write me another blog; I want to read a new one.”

Okay, Mother. So bossy. This is what she said to me as I headed to security to get on the first plane on my trip back to Moldova. (Which, if you're wondering, was probably just as hard or harder than it was to leave the first time. I had too good a time at home with everyone! Although the first time I thought I wouldn't see anyone for over two years, and this time we all knew it'd be just one more, so at least there's that.)

Since my demanding mother requested another blog but I don't have too much to write about at the moment, it's a good thing my sweet friend Sara (probably the nicest person in Peace Corps Moldova) gave me a bunch of great questions to answer. She nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is a blogging thing that helps you get to know your fellow bloggers. There are rules about nominating other people and creating your own set of questions for them, but I've always been a rulebreaker (just kidding – we all know I follow the rules) so I'm just going to answer her questions, with the excuse that hers are so great I couldn't possibly come up with anything better. But thank you, Sara, for thinking of me! (Also, excellent answers to the questions YOU got, and now I want to know your answers to these!)

1. How many different countries have you traveled to and where?
While in Peace Corps, I've traveled to the Czech Republic (Prague) and to Italy (Rome and Naples). I've also spent some time in Romania, but that was more of a struggle than a vacation. (And to the United States, I guess!) Prior to Peace Corps I lived in Germany so I got to go to all sorts of places – France, England, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar.. Maybe even some I'm forgetting.

2. What food item do you miss the most?
When I was just at home, I found myself drinking a lot of Dr. Pepper, which I hadn't realized I missed but man, it's good! And tacos, made by my mother. I miss any kind of food that isn't potatoes, really. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, ohhh.. That's what I want right now. 

3. Favorite book (or article) you have read so far since being a PCV?
I've done so much reading here that this is a tough question. Definitely the most meaningful to me at the time I read it would be Divergent by Veronica Roth. You know when you read the perfect book at the perfect time? That was one of those. I also loved Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. The former with great advice about life and love and the latter basically describing my life.

4. Favorite item you are glad you brought with you?
It's almost painful to say this now when I feel like I'm actually melting in the heat (I know, I know, I'm not serving in Africa) but my favorite thing I brought is my fuzzy Vera Bradley house robe that I wear 24/7 when it's cool/cold outside. I've forgotten what that feels like but I imagine it will happen again someday.

5. What is your favorite thing about the country you serve in?
I think my favorite thing about Moldova is just how kind strangers can be. While I don't think this is specific to Moldova (it shouldn't be!) I find that it's easier to notice here because maybe I need it more here, what with language struggles and unfamiliar surroundings. Most notably with transportation issues. It's occasionally difficult to get from one place to the next, but you'll always find someone to help you – not just tell you where to go, but sometimes they'll even take you there. Recently I was with two friends and we were on the side of the road attempting to catch a bus going north. So was this other man. He could have taken any bus that we could have, but he stopped one for us, put us on it, told the driver where we needed to go, and then didn't even get on! He waited for the next one after making sure that we were on our way. I've been picked up by strangers that somehow knew my bus wasn't going to come and directed by others when I just look like I don't know where I'm going. I used to worry about making it to places on my own, but I'm never completely alone in the world and I know I'll always eventually get there, perhaps with some extra help from a kind Moldovan. 

6. If you could choose between hot summers and cold winters, which would you choose?
You're asking me this question when I'm hot at my house and at work and outside and everywhere..... Which makes my answer cold winters. I know I would regret saying that if I were answering this during winter, but at least in winter there's variety sometimes – when it's super cold outside you can bundle up inside next to the soba for warmth. Plus, cute sweaters.

7. Favorite food from your country of service?
Don't tell her I said this, but my host mom's 
plăcintă ghițmane. It may be her only great skill in the kitchen, but it's miles above any other kind of plăcintă I've had. If I don't come home knowing how to make it, I'll consider my Peace Corps service a failure. (Kidding, sort of.)

8. From your experience, where is the best place to travel to?
You're all going to be SO shocked when I say: Italy. Wait, you're not shocked? Weird. I've been there 4 times and my mother assumes it will be part of my as-yet-unplanned COS trip (“Knowing you, you'll stop in Italy on the way home.”). It's just my favorite place. It's not even one specific city – I would probably rank my favorites (Florence, Rome, Cinque Terre) but I love them all. If I didn't hate being away from home I'd have to try to live there next. As it stands, I'll just have to marry rich and we can travel there together later. You can start lining up now – I'm good at baking cookies (and look super cute in an apron) and I know how to feed farm animals - is that helpful? 

9. If you could choose between the public transportation in your country of service or walking, which do you prefer?
Walking, definitely. I enjoy walking, most of the time. The last time I ride a rutiera won't come soon enough, and I'll often choose walking over the slightly better public transportation in the capital. In the summer they're unbearably hot and rarely will you be lucky enough to have a crowd that allows the windows to be left open, and in the winter I'm terrified that they will crash if there is snow or ice (which there is). In any season there are too many people on the bus and I don't think I've ever gotten to sit next to someone that wasn't obnoxious. But I'm whining so I will say that if you have a long trip, it's great for books on tape or podcasts or bonding or a nap, perhaps. It's possibly unwise to nap on a bus when you're by yourself, so officially I never do this, but I'm just saying, 3 hours is a long time.

10. If you could describe your Peace Corps service in one word, what would it be?

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