Hello all! Forgive me for not writing for the past several weeks. I honestly haven't been incredibly busy, but somehow time always seems to get away from me. In order to properly catch you up, I've come up with the ABC's of my last couple weeks. I hope you enjoy it!
A, an, some - grammar lessons! Sadly, it is quite difficult for me to explain grammar to students who don't quite understand English. Therefore, Nino usually does the boring job of explaining the actual grammar in English and I get to come up with games to reinforce what was just explained. I like my job... :)
Bazar-ing: I had my own version of Black Friday shopping in the Kutaisi Bazar this past weekend. On a hunt for slippers, I definitely haggled with retailers, waited in long lines of crowds, got claustrophobic as I waited in small areas, and agonized over which pair of slippers was the cheapest, cutest and therefore the most worthwhile to buy. I ended up with an adorable pair of comfy Mickey Mouse slippers. Hearing Lela say 'Mickey Mouse' in her Georgian accent made them all the more worth it.
Chocolate Chip Cookies: We baked homemade chocolate chip cookies this weekend as well! They were so delicious! They tasted slightly cake-y, and we burnt the first pan, but overall, it was a delicious success! My family is requesting more - and my mom is requesting me to teach her how to make them. Yay family bonding :)
Drinking hot drinks from MY mug: You know you're part of a family when you have your own place at the table and your own mug. Cici and I both always use these adorable heart shaped mugs. Hers is pink, mine is blue. No one else drinks from these mugs. Even when friends come over, they know whose mug is whose. Love it.
Eggs, eggs and more eggs! Recently Lela made the most delicious banana cake I have EVER tasted. It was honestly the best thing I've eaten in Georgia - and Michelle can attest to this. It was moist (hate that word) and creamy and fabulous. However, I later found out that there were over 15 eggs put in this cake...I was slightly grossed out, but honestly nothing surprises me anymore. I say, bring on the banana cake!!
Friends Episodes: I found this great online website that has tons and tons of tv shows and movies on it. For those that know me well, you know I am an avid fan of the 90s tv show Friends. Luckily for me, this website has all 10 seasons of shows available online. I started with season 1 and have been enjoying one every night before bed. I haven't seen these episodes for so long and I've found myself laughing out loud at lines I've nearly forgotten. It's great to smile and laugh before bedtime :)
Georgian Lessons: This month I started Georgian lessons full on. It took forever to figure out schedules and who was actually going to be my Georgian teacher, but I'm feeling much more confident with my Georgian and am able to understand a decent amount. That being said, I have a long way to go!
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful Thankgiving! We didn't do much here, nor did it it really feel like Thanksgiving. Here, they only eat Turkey on Christmas. We did eat boiled pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds (which I have become quite addicted to). However, I am very thankful for my family, both in America and in Georgia, my friends and this incredible experience and all it has taught me thus far.
Iviko's Birthday Party: My English teacher's son, Iviko, turned 8 this past Friday and I was invited to his birthday party. It was a very surreal experience accompanied with 20 eight year olds running around, beating each other up (playfully, of course), drinking wine and practicing the traditions of toasting the man (boy) of honor. Us adults sat upstairs and toasted to Nino for raising such a wonderful boy and then a ridiculous amount of food. I met Nino's family and quickly connected with her father in law - a geography teacher who loves Google Earth. We found my house in Iowa City, and then he showed me his house in Samtredia. What a fun way to bond!
Jump That Rock! This is an awesome song that always proves to be a great pick-me-up whenever I'm down. It has prompted many dance parties, whether it's just me dancin like a fool in my room, or several of us dancing around Samtredia. It's also a great song to run to! I discovered it at Core this summer as it was one of the last tracks in our Body Attack class. Great. Song.
Here's a link if you want to listen...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0DTm_bWEjs
Kutaisi: This last month has been pretty quiet. We haven't gone a big trip since Borjomi and Bakuriani, but we have spent quite a bit of time in Kutaisi. We attended a big supra with some Georgian girls (who are studying to be English teachers at Kutaisi University) and their friends. We've found several great restaurants and coffee shops and have done our fair share of exploring the city, the bazars and other shopping centers.
Lesson Planning: I've fallen into a nice routine of knowing my students and what activities work best for them and what they like doing in class. It's been fun to come up with creative ways to teach somewhat boring concepts like whether to say bigger or biggest in a sentence. I love seeing the kids' smiling faces when I say it's time to play a game or when I have a new song to teach them.
Megobrebi (friends - both Georgian and American!) It's been great meeting new Georgian friends, especially those that are our age. Like I mentioned earlier, we went to a supra with lots of Georgian kids our age and it was great to chat with them! However, I am also loving my friends from TLG, especially my Samtredia girls. Not sure what I'd do without you Tara, Michelle and Melissa!! I think all our families are quite used to us being together lots and I'm so excited to travel together in Israel!
Nino, Marina and Angela: These three women are all English teachers in my school. I'm primarily working with Nino right now, but after Christmas break I will work primarily with Marina and maybe a couple classes Nino and Angela. I'll be sad to leave my kiddos from this semester, but plan on checking in with them often! I'm excited for a change of pace and a new teaching style with Marina, but I hope Nino keeps some of my ideas going. For example, I started a point system with my 6th and 7th graders to motivate them to do their homework. There wasn't any sort of incentive to do it before, and nothing happened to them if they didn't do it before. Well I'm all about positive reinforcement, so when my students do their homework, they get 5 points. Once they earn 30, they get a prize. I've finally started to see positive effects of the system - in fact ALL of my 6th graders did their homework for today. I can't tell you how exciting it was!
Omari, Levani, Imeda... and sometimes Giorgi. These are my 9th grade boys - and I love them. They are so much fun to work with - when they come to class. I've been off and on with them the past 6 weeks. They were coming a lot in the beginning, and then they stopped showing up regularly and I was really discouraged by that. I think they realized they were actually going to have to start working and learning in English class. However, I had a breakthrough with them a couple weeks ago and they've been attending every class for the last two weeks. We've been making so much more progress and it's exciting to seem them working hard!
Peanut Butter: still obsessed. We've started making it in bulk and are hoping to begin marketing in Samtredia. Tara's grandmother got envious a while back and tried competing with us by making Almond butter, but it just wasn't the same :)
Quick Feet! Samtredia football rocks! We were lucky enough to be able to attend a Samtredia v. Tbilisi football game a couple weeks ago. It was hilarious watching the fans go CRAZY when Samtredia won 2-0. Kids were jumping on the fence, yelling, throwing sunflower seeds, you know, the usual. It was also entertaining to realize that you were one of maybe 10 women in the entire stadium. We went with a couple of other Georgian girls, but when we looked around, it was mostly men in attendance! More staring ensued...obviously, but it was all very fun! I think my favorite part was participating in the cheers: SAM-TRE-DI-A!!! Gaumar-jos! (Cheers for Samtredia)
Restaurant Hopping: This past weekend in Kutaisi we were the ultimate restaurant hoppers. We began in McDonald's with just a quick coffee and muffin. Stopped in a little shack for an afternoon beer while waiting for other friends to meet us. Headed to the Kutaisi Brewery for a fancy lunch. Stopped for some shwarma because our friend Taylor desperately wanted some. We then ended our restaurant brigade in a little bakery that has a soft serve ice cream machine and enjoyed delicious twist cones for only 60 tetri (about 35 cents). Needless to say, we were incredibly full, but we enjoyed our food tour of Kutaisi! Made for a great afternoon!
Skype! My lifeline to home. I'm not sure what I would to without it! It was so lovely to be able to skype with my family while they were all home for Thanksgiving. Even though I'm 10 hours ahead, I'm so grateful for family and friends that find time to chat and fit me into their busy schedules. I love hearing about the happenings at home!
Turbo Jam: While I enjoyed running here for a while, it's been nice to change it up with some workout videos that Tara brought back with her when she went home for her sister's wedding. We've been doing Turbo Jam and plan to start Pilates. So much fun to jump around in my garage while watching the video on my computer. We sure are resourceful! I love kickboxing though, there's nothing like punching and kicking to get the energy out of you!
Under my covers is my favorite place to be: It's officially turned chilly. While it's still somewhat warm in the afternoons, morning and evenings get pretty cold. We brought in our stove and rearranged the family room to make room for it. It is sooo warm. Thankfully, my room is right above it so I'm fairly warm at night. However, I love being warm and cuddly underneath my 3 or 4 blankets. It's just the best.
Vodka shots with Mom and Dad: It's become somewhat of a common occurrence that whenever my Dad is actually home for our big meal in the afternoon, he often wants to do a couple shots with me. I think it's his way of showing that he likes me. He always says a sweet toast or calls me 'chemi gogo' (my girl). Today, Lela broke out the fruity vodka, so we all enjoyed shots of it together. Lela then explained to me how they make it so that I would be able to come back to America and make it for my family and friends. Get excited!
We WON!!! Volleyball games galore! Along with football games, I also attending a championship volleyball game at Michelle's school. She's the only one of us with a school that actually has a volleyball team that competes. It was great to go to her school, meet some of her kids and participate in the cheers. It was quite surreal seeing several teams that were 'dressed and ready to go' wearing jeans and sweater vests. Michelle's team was all about it though - uniforms and everthing!
eXcited for Israel! It's official. We found out our flight information today! We're leaving December 20th for Israel. For those of you that were unaware, I will be spending my Christmas break (about a month long) with Michelle, Melissa and Tara traveling around Israel. We're spending Christmas in Bethlehem, and then spending time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the North and the Dead Sea. It should be an amazing experience!
Yes, we are still the English teachers from America... Even after being here for 3 months, we are still getting stopped in the street, the bazar, the bank, everywhere and are asked if we're the teachers from America. Sometimes I find it sweet, other times I'm annoyed and just want to say, YES WE ARE! You've seen us for the last 3 months, the excitement should have died by now! Sometimes being a local celebrity has it's perks though - people are incredibly kind and are always excited to show you around and sometimes even give you free things. A man who works in the market where I like to buy my coffee will sometimes give me free chocolate :)
Zzzzzz's I've finally grown used to sleeping here. I've only woken up once feeling really confused about where I was. Bring on the crazy, loud, angry dogs at night, or the neighbors who like to yell at each other at 7 in the morning, or the OTHER neighbor who likes to bang on some sort of metal at the same time. I can sleep through anything now! Well...with the help of heavy duty earplugs and the spare set that I keep on my chair in case the first pair falls out... ;)
Phewf!! That was long. Thanks for sticking through! Hope you enjoyed it - I had fun writing it!!