Sunday, September 5, 2010

Georgian, Georgian and more Georgian!

Hello all! I feel like it’s been forever since I last wrote about life here, but in actuality, it’s only been a few days! All of us agree that it feels like we’ve already been in Georgia for a long time, when really it’s only been about a week.  I think it’s because we literally cram so much into one day that for the amount that we’ve done/learned one would think we would have been here for weeks!!

I am officially in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city. The city is located in Imereti, the region we will all be teaching in.  We drove 3 buses here on Thursday after meeting the Minister of Education at the Ministry for a small meet and greet session.  This was my first encounter with the Georgian ideal that there is always a time to sit around and drink wine.  Our meeting was around 11 in the morning, but we were all given a glass of wine to enjoy as we mingled around.  On the way here we stopped in Mtskveta, a city outside of T’bilisi for a ‘supra,’ or a large traditional Georgian feast. We all sat around this HUGE table that fit 92 of us on the veranda right on the river.  It was absolutely beautiful!! We were all overwhelmed with the delicious food and juice.  We had been eating pretty decent food at the hotel, but nothing compared to what we ate that day! Just to share a bit about our diet – it is largely based on meats, breads and cheese.  The produce here is absolutely delicious but can sometimes be lacking.  It completely depends on the location.  In Tbilisi we had tons of cucumbers and tomatoes (and yes, for those of you that remember, I do not like tomatoes at all, BUT I’m trying really hard and think I’m finally coming around to them J).  However, in Kutaisi, we’ve had to beg for veggies at meals.  Tons of greasy meats and carbs… Just another adjustment we’ve all slowly begun to make! I’m very excited to see what my diet might be like with our host families, because I’m not sure how much more we can take! We’ve been supplementing with dried fruit and cereal that we bought at a local supermarket Good Will.  This is basically their equivalent to our Wal-Mart.  It was HUGE!! It was interesting because everything was imported from Germany

Anyway, we just finished our third full day of orientation.  Our schedule is quite long.  Here is what a typical day looks like:

9:00 Breakfast
10-1:30 Georgian Language Lessons
1:30 Lunch
2:30-7 Methodology and/or Georgian Culture Lessons
8:00 Dinner
9:00 Group Meetings

We do have a break in the morning and the afternoon as well, but it still gets to be quite long! However, I think most of us are really enjoying it! I especially like having Georgian class in the morning.  I’m definitely picking up the language better than I thought I would, which is reassuring.  I do often find myself speaking Spanish when I’m supposed to be speaking Georgian though, which always makes me laugh!! We move pretty quickly, but there’s a lot to cover, so I’m ok with it! We’ve mostly learned conversational/small talk suggestions and we’ve starting conjugating several verbs.  We’re also learning the alphabet.  For those of you that don’t know, the Georgian alphabet has 33 letters – all representing a single sound.  This makes it actually quite easy to read, once you actually learn all 33 sounds and symbols! While learning things in the beginning here, most everything is transliterated, making it easier to transition from English to Georgian. 

Methodology classes have been pretty awful and boring – for everyone, not just those of us that have a background in Education.  We can all definitely see a need for change in their education system as the way the way we were taught was not helpful at all! We pretty much just read through a bunch of worksheets that went over presentation techniques and the four basic language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening).  It was boring for me, so I won’t bore all of you with it!

In Kutaisi we are staying at a government building that is normally a school for minorities or other volunteers who come to Georgia and need to learn Georgian.  It is dorm style living so we’re staying in suites of 5 and get to share bathrooms with the rest of the floor!! Imagine 45 girls, 5 showers 5 Western Toilets and 5 Eastern toilets (more comically referred to as squatters...).  It’s actually been pretty entertaining and quite comfortable living.  We do have AC, except for when the power goes off… this actually happened today during our culture lessons.  It was hot, but definitely something we’re going to have to become accustomed to! Also, we didn’t have any cold water this morning, so our showers were extremely hot! We all agreed that we would rather take cold showers than hot ones – so really it just made us appreciate what may come soon in the future!!

Kutaisi is a pretty run-down city.  We went walking around the other day and it is very obvious that Georgia is still a developing country.  The countryside is absolutely beautiful, but the cities and towns are just very run down, very basic.  It’s interesting walking around here because we just get stared at, the entire time. It’s to be expected I guess, we all look very foreign to them and they are curious! For all of you mothers out there, yes, we walked in a large group and took boys with us J. 
We’ve started referring to a walks through town as urban hikes because the sidewalks and the roads are in pretty terrible condition! You never know if there’s going to be a rock jutting out, or a board that might come loose under your food…tread lightly!

Overall though, everything has really been great so far.  We are treated so well here by the TLG staff and are well looked after! I’ve met some really great people and am excited for the many friendships that will grow from this adventure! We will be in Kutaisi until next Friday, where we will then depart for our host families.  We still don’t know where we’re going…they are keeping us in total suspense! I think that’s ok though. 

Well, I must stop for 2 reasons: this is beginning to be unreasonably long AND I must go eat some dinner!! I love you all!! 


  1. Reading your descriptions of the showers I'm having flashbacks to taking cold bucket showers on SST! Love reading your posts - have fun!!!

    : )

    Rachel (the one that's your cuz)

  2. girly you are sooo busy! hopefully you will be able to relax soon when you head to your family. However than you will just be filled with the stress of not being able to understand them. So...good luck with that:)

    Miss ya,
    Love ya like a momma duck loves her ugly duckling!

  3. EMILY!! This is soo cool! It sounds like me 2 years ago! Enjoy it all it will go soo fast!
    We are so close but yet far away! I have a friend in the capital city she is an amazing kid so let me know and I know she would love to meet you. I taught her at camp.
    Have fun!