How many people love me

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's getting a little better

Thursday, 29 September 2011,

So it’s now been about a week since I typed up my previous post, even though I just posted a few minutes ago, there have been a few more things happen nothing really eventful though. It’s almost the end of my 5th week in Kyrgyzstan and still don’t have keys to the front gate or door, I asked my host mother for them and she said she would get them made on Friday or Sunday—that was last Friday or Sunday. My teacher has said that if I don’t do one more assignment she is going to call my contractor—I have only not done one assignment in the 4 weeks we have had class—she also still doesn’t understand why I can’t remember 300 new words perfectly after 4 weeks, and how all my letters are a different size no matter if they are cursive or print. I think if I didn’t have my iPod and iTunes I would have tried to quite this year, I helped one of my ginger mates not quit her year in Italy.

My tennis lessons are getting to be more fun now, that we are starting to not play with the wall as much because I suck at that part, when it’s a normal person I am not so bad because they can hit back differently than a ball bouncing off a wall. I finally got money to pay for the lessons, I have now paid for September and October, since I don’t have the money to pay for November and I may not have lessons in November because I might get to go to Mumbai for 36 days with Rotaract.

I now get 125 bucks a month, since my parents decided that it seemed hard to live off of just 100 bucks every other month from them and my monthly 25 from Rotary. I pulled the 100 this month and got it converted at suckyish rate or $1 = 44.80com—I did it over my 25 minute rest period and it took me longer then I thought to get to and from the place because I took a 45 minute break which my teacher didn’t like I could care less what she thinks at this point I would just like to either move to a different group or hitting her with some sort of large object—on my walk home from school that day I saw places that where $1 = 44.95com and when you convert $100 that’s 15 more com that’s almost a round trip on a bus here. With this money I paid for tennis I have factored out 400com for the month to cover my 336com needed for all my rides to and from school and that extra 64com to cover trips around town and stuff, also I bought tooth paste with Propolis, a tall shampoo bottle that cleans and lifts hair to add volume and life while leaving it smelling like Satsumas, Lemons, and Oranges, a box of 100 variety of fruit flavoured tea bags for my Kyrgyz friend whose in the states for her first year of college after her exchange last year to my district, and a chocolate bar which I am going to cut out to front cover of it and tape a part at the stop so I can stick a safety pin through it to attach it to my blazer since it was my first chocolate bar I have had here and it has Russian on it J. Today I have to buy an umbrella because I think the rainy season is about to start which means next month or if I have enough money this month I need to get a winter coat and some boots, and gloves, I have a hat, flannel lined khakis, and under armour cold gear top and pants.

My visa expired on the 26th, and they have my new one all done they are just waiting for the 300 bucks to pay for it and an approval letter from the Ministry of Justice. Mika, my YEO’s personal assistant, has been really nice and helping me get it worked out and everything. I learned my geography has really gone down the drain since I left England because I thought Dubai, which is where my Rotary counsellor is moving to in July, was in India when it’s in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I learned where all these countries where in sophomore World History but we didn’t have to know any cities in them, but if I need to figure out the capitol of random Central Asian Countries I can just go and ask my English 11 teacher he spent his summer learning them for some random reason but this is the same man who would be dancing and singing and hopping around the class room at 8:30 in the morning.

School sucks so badly here, my teacher doesn’t like that I am having trouble learning my third/fourth alphabet and that I can’t remember 300 words in a month when most of my class mates, whom are also foreigners, are having trouble with all the words and parts of the alphabet. I have done all but one of the assignments she assigned us, and the one I didn’t do she was all like “why you no do homework? You need to do all homework! It is good for you! If you don’t do another assignment I am going to call your contractor.” So my school sucks since I have one teacher and I have to put up with her for two hours Monday through Friday I really hope that in a few months when I feel strong enough with my Russian that I can learn the rest by talking with people outside of the class room and if I mess up they correct me, and I can change and take Turkish and then to practice it I can talk with my rotary counsellor, she is poly-lingual. She knows Kyrgyz, Russian, Turkish and English; she used to work for the Turkish Embassy in Kyrgyzstan which is how she kept up her proficiency in it also she attended the Kyrgyz Turkish University and learned English in the schools here and then she got into rotary which taught her the rest over the years of helping with it.

I am still working on making friends but it’s hard right now since I don’t speak Japanese, Chinese or Korean and that’s what the people in my class speak. They all are really nice and friendly but none of us can really talk with each other except the Japanese girl who can speak Chinese.

That’s basically my first full month in Kyrgyzstan, nothing too exciting has happened yet. I am hoping that things will get batter next month since my Russian is slowly getting better since in class we learn some of the most random stuff, like we just no started verbs, and all we have are the verbs for to do/to make, to work, to rest, to listen, to read, to repeat, to understand, to think and to know. We haven’t done numbers yet, which logically you would think first you do your alphabet then you do your numbers and then start verbs, but no we did alphabet for 3 weeks, and this week we started verb work. Also, the teacher expects us to memorize long passage and redic long names overnight, or in 2 minutes or 5 minutes and then come stand next to her in front of the class and repeat it perfectly using the pictures she has, and she goes “many pictures, it’s easy.”

4 Weeks down

Thursday, 22 September 2011

As you may notice the date up above does not correspond with the date that this was posted. That is because I did not have the money on my SIM card to be able to use the internet, or the money to take the Marchutras to some place with Wi-Fi, or the money to go to an internet place and use them.

My money seems to come in then go right back out again, I get a lot of money then it is gone in an instant to pay for my rides to school which is $8 a month since they don’t have bus passes, then I have to pay $27 a month for my Tennis lessons, and if I decided to take dance classes it will probably be about the same amount, so that would be over half of my total money because over two months I get $150 maybe, depending on the previous months went spending wise. Things are really cheap here, when you go to the bazaars but I have yet to find all the stuff I need at the Orto-Sai Bazaar which is the only one I have gone to so far. I have priced things at the store that I can walk to in 15 minutes from my school, and stuff is okay but I still need to go to the huge bazaar in town, but when I go I have to be super careful because it is full of pickpockets just looking for a tourist to pickpocket.

So as I sit here on the eve of my four week mark in Kyrgyzstan I can’t help to think to myself, “Self what have we don’t in this one month here compared to many of our colleagues around the world?” Which the answer to that is not really that much, I have barely left my host family’s house—mainly because I don’t have a key to the front gate or to the front door so I have to ask to be let out of the house, yet my host mother constantly tells me to get out of the house and go see the town—I’ve been invited to a few ‘parties’ and I use that world sparingly because those parties that I turned down each invite to where to one of my host brother’s friend’s drinking fest at their house—which normally a fight breaks out during them and I just broke my nose back in February so I don’t need it getting broken in a foreign country—I take tennis lessons for 27 bucks a month, eaten a lot of national delicacies, eaten street vendor food, saw the independence day parade (at least the small part I could see though the crowds before everyone decided to put their five year olds on their shoulders), went to one of the like eight local bazaars, tried salted and unsalted fermented mare’s milk—the salted tasted a lot better than the unsalted version—and watched every video on my iPod and iTunes at least 5 times. Oh also I have hand written almost 20 letters in two days, but I still haven’t figured out the mail system yet because I can’t even find the damn post office and I have to send out letters to 26 people across two continents, six countries, four states and 13 cities.

I currently am living off of the 25 USD I get from my host Rotary club a month plus whatever I have left over from the previous month, which is currently 122 som or 2.71 USD, I start getting the 25 USD a month starting at the end of this month, and I get about 50 USD a month from my family in the states but I can only pull every other month when I have somewhat over 100 USD. Also I spend almost 10 bucks a month just to take the Marshutras, or little van thingies that I have to walk 15 minutes to the bus stop than wait another 15 or so minutes for one to come by—and cram myself in it because they have seating for 10 an then standing room for as many as you can cram in—then I ride it for 30 minutes than get off and walk for 20 minutes, to get to school. So on a good day it can take almost an hour just to get to school. For a three hour lesson in Russian which my teacher can’t understand why I have trouble learning a third alphabet and writing cursive in a foreign language when I can barely read it in English, let alone write it.

National dishes are great, but after a while you do get tired of eating the same things every few days and since my host mother makes them in huge batches we are eating them for all our meals for two to three days. Also, I feel like she is stuffing me like a thanksgiving turkey at times and at others barely giving me anything, like when I have a bowl of soup at 830am for breakfast, then an apple or two for lunch, and don’t eat dinner till almost 7pm at night I am starving at that time, and she gives me another bowl of soup, I know that I am drinking like three bowls of tea and a few slices of bread with each meal but still I am a teenage boy. Don’t get me wrong my host mother is a great cook who when she is home seems to spend all her time either in the kitchen or telling me “computer bad for your eyes” most of the time when I get home from school about 330pm she is gone somewhere with her five year old son, that she babies him by letting him eat where he wants and she spoon feeds him while he plays with his toys and things.

My book is coming along fairly well it seems, one of my ginger mates Horse Whisperer read what I sent her in her long email that I sent her to convince her not to give up her year in Italy because she has been having doubts the entire time. I sent out an email to everyone from my outbound camp and at least five emails have come back saying they can’t be delivered for one reason or another. I don’t know if these people made these mail accounts and forgot to check them so they got close or what, but it makes it harder to get a multi-cultural perspective on it. The book is all about the ups and downs, celebrations and mishaps that Rotary exchange students go through and also what their parents had to deal with. I am hoping to actually get it published because I think it would be a great aid to future students of rotary and their parents as to let them know people have gone through the same thing or something similar and the stories can help them both deal with it and know that they are not alone in dealing with this or these issues that might arise on their year abroad.
I am having really bad downers right now, trying to adjust to a pay as you go phone, which I have never had in my life, and very limited and expensive internet. I get charged 1,90 to 2,80 som per megabyte and just running facebook takes a lot of megs I have found out, my mail when I don’t get to check it every day but like when I check on a Sunday and don’t get to check again until Wednesday it normally will take 10 megs to do because in an average day I get close to 40 emails most days I get closer to 60, that’s why I try to check often. Also, there are supposedly internet cafes but I haven’t found one and there is on connected to my school but I don’t know if that’s for students or for teachers because they don’t mark things here, as in they don’t label the teacher and student bathrooms differently. A less than one minute phone call costs me almost 2 som fro like a 22 second phone call that I make every day to ask for someone to come and open the gate to let me in after school or tennis.

I am still working on finding a scouting unit to join here but no one in my host family knows where I access is at. Atai is not home most of the time so I can’t ask him to call the people and talk to them for me because my Russian is horrible. I really want to see how Kyrgyzstan runs Boy Scouts compared the BSA. I am working on getting some council patches from the US to trade with the scouts here, and if they use different rank patches I may try to trade them those too.

Tomorrow at dinner I am going to ask my host parents if I may get a front gate and front door key, seeing as I have been here one month as of 4am on the 22nd September. I plan on staying with them for a few more months but I would like to have a key so I don’t have to call and interrupt what people are doing so they can let me. I know that the grandfather is always home but I would still like to have my own keys to use that I would return when I switch host families in December since my Rotary counselor won’t be back from Dubai until early to mid-November and she still needs to inspect the possible second families for the other two rotary students and I. She is having some difficulty doing it right now since she is moving to Dubai in July since her husband decided to move there to start up his own business, and she is also a little over four months pregnant now and due in January.

Basically my first month is Kyrgyzstan has been mainly a downer there have been a few ups here and there like joining tennis helps me get over some things, and writing the letters has been helping me feel better as well as the book helping me deal with my culture shock. Seeing as I never had a honey moon phase while I am have been here. I had it on the plane ride here and once I got to passport control and got held up there for at least half an hour and had to pay like 100 bucks for a one month temporary visa really like crushed everything. Also, they put my luggage on the wrong flight so I didn’t have it for a day and stuff, which is not as bad as Josey whose stuff, got lost by British Air Ways for a week. Also, going shopping with her helped me feel better since I had someone to talk to about different things which I can’t really do with my host family or to many people via facebook or texting since everything is a pay as you go. My internet, phone calls and texting are all done through one SIM so it’s not like I can just load my internet SIM and use it when I need the internet and keep the one for my phone things separate. Seeing as how I spent like 1000 som over like 3 days, a few weeks ago, just by mainly checking my email and chatting with people via Skype and Facebook. 

Monday, September 12, 2011


So to start off I am fine in Kyrgyzstan made it safely and its coming to the end of day 18 which means I have 300 days left here in Kyrgyzstan, and in May my good friend Tolkounai comes back from her freshman year of college in the states. My counselor is four month pregnant and is due in may which means that the other two Rotary students might get to go to the feasts that celebrate the birth and first month of life. In June or July she is moving to Dubai with her husband. My YEO is out of country for medical reasons, I am told he is old enough to have bone and blood problems and that is why he is out of country getting medical attention in the states.

Today at school my teacher gave me the bad dog wagging finger thing. This was because my Russian alphabet is horrible, my hand writing is worse then normal because it has to be in cursive, also I can't spell, write and pronounce properly about 130 new words that we learned over the course of last week. On today's spelling test over the last like 60 words we learned out of the 30 I could remember almost every single one was misspelled in some part or the whole word was spelled wrong. Then when I had to write on the board the letter combo things I was going okay for a while then half way through the 'ts' and 'sh' sounds merged when she was saying them. Now she emphases to me that I need to make my writing beautiful, learn all of the words, and my alphabet.

If you are wondering while the title is yuck, it is because of what my friend Joe had me try today. Joe is this guy from southern Florida here in Kyrgyzstan with Rotary just like Josette and myself. We hung out today because Cholpon-my current host mom-has been telling me that I need to leave the house more and stop staring at a computer screen for most of the day. Yesterday I went window shopping with Josette yesterday, who is trying to find a school uniform that doesn't have ruffles on the blouse as well as trying to find her two prom dresses because she is told girls wear two dresses to prom. So back to today, I met up with Joe after my class was over, then we walked to the bus stop to go to the Orto-Sai Bazaar, before we got there he had me try this one drink that is fermented Horse Milk with salt added, it was okay I took about 5 sips and then threw it away it wasn't as bad as some of the stuff I have had to drink for Boy Scouts before. So we took the mini-bus thingy to the bazaar and we wandered round it for a few minutes then we went to his flat that he is living at with his first host family. Had some food and chai there and he had me try the normal fermented horse milk was worse then the salted version, the salt cuts the edge is what I found out through this experience.

I know that I am feeling home sick because I am more board then normal, and still have not heard anything about where some sports clubs and dance studios are in Bishkek and how to get to them since my current host family lives about 20 minutes outside of town so I take a mini-bus into town every weekday to go to school and once I get off that bus I have to walk for about 15 minutes to get to the school gates, so it takes me roughly 45 minutes to get to school because of the 10 minute walk to just get to the bus stop.