Tim in Georgia

This is a blog to chronicle my experiences in the Republic of Georgia as a Peace Corps TEFL volunteer. *The views expressed herein are mine and are not necessarily those of the Peace Corps or the US Government.*

25 May 2006

Tickets? Check.

I called SATO and booked my tickets to Philadelphia yesterday. I leave Chicago (O'Hare) at 1:15pm on Monday, June 12, 2006 and arrive in Philadelphia around 4:30. So that takes care of everything that I need to do before I embark upon this journey. Except packing, which will take place, undoubtedly, that morning.

This blog taught me something today - something I did not expect to learn, even. I was born in the year of the rat. Yah, yah, I know, that explains a lot. But really, I had no idea a few minutes ago when I was foraging around in the template editing stuff. Can you spot the change I made? I separated the links from the Georgia blogs. Fascinating, I know.

Also, the blog is hitting the big time! In addition to having readership in Georgia, Russia, the USA, and even Los Alamos, a contingent of Georgians in the USA has begun to partake in the assuredly life-changing experience of reading my thoughts as well. Sponsorships, advertisements, and book deals are certainly looming on the horizon. But seriously, if you are reading from a far-off locale, let me know. It providees a slight lift to the ego and a bit of encouragement, if nothing else.

I heard that Tom Hanks made a movie about being a PC volunteer, coincidetally called "Volunteers." I watched EuroTrip before going to Europe last summer, so I guess I should watch this also. Hopefully it's good (and at least moderately accurate). Alright, time to check the Yahoo group for packing tips.


21 May 2006

On Staging

I graduated last weekend, which was rather mundane, in all honesty. Same costume, different scenery, I guess. However, I did get to wear a hood this time, which made me look like a monk/Klan member hybrid. And so now that I know everything there is to know (and have a diploma written completely in Latin to prove it), I can concentrate fully on preparing to leave for Georgia.

I finally had the last of my dental appointments yesterday and sent in their bloody forms. Hopefully they won't send them back to me again. I also received my staging packet in the mail last week. More forms to fill out, including next-of-kin information (a bit creepy to fill out...this conjured up many of the same sentiments as being subjected to the AIDS test when getting the PC physical - not that I feared I had the AIDS, but it just seems like something that happens to other people until you are sitting there in the AIDS-test closet having your blood extracted. It really was the size of a closet, like I was being pre-emptively quarantined while being tested. On a side note, I don't think the hyphen there is technically correct, but having two e's side-by-side within a word where both are enunciated seems too wrong to be right. Good thing I am teaching English as an occupation for the next two years.). I also had to affirm that I did not run off and marry a foreign national since the last time they talked to me and also that I haven't been subjected to any disciplinary action by a military tribunal - because so many people jump up and flee the military and right away join the Peace Corps, I guess.

The Staging Packet also contained a "baggage advisory," which I have been dreading. I generally pack lightly, but to actually see the dimension and weight restrictions is a bit daunting anyway. It just sounds like such a small amount to pack for two years. Combined linear dimesions of my checked baggage shall not exceed 107 inches, and the combined weight shall not exceed 100 pounds. So I guess I'll be leaving that gigantic Churchill biography that I've been meaning to read at home, which will allot me an extra 5% of the allowed wieght. I guess packing will be the last thing I do using the English system of measurement, thank god. Oh metric system, I've been yearning to live in your midst for so long! We can be together at last! Hopefully you have been anticipating me as much as I have been anticipating you.

I also received an itinerary of my training that will take place at the Sheraton University City in Philadelphia. A bit shorter than I anticipated, but it does have a session that teaches me what it's like to be an attractive female. "A Slice of Life: Coping with Unwanted Attention" headlines the morning session of Wednesday's training. The packet also includes an itinerary for the international leg of my journey to Georgia. We depart from JFK airport in New York City (which is excellent, I've always wanted to go to NYC) and, even better, includes a 13.5 hour layover in Vienna (and even during daylight hours!). I hope we don't spend this time in the airport. We missed Vienna on our selective European tour last summer, which I guess is turning out to be rather fortunate, at least for me (Sorry Corinne).

Oh, and I got yet another CD-ROM full of information to comb through (I mean, of course, digest with bated breath and uncontained excitement). This makes three now, in addition to a substantial book and a growing mountain of other papers and pamphlets in addition to the additional research that I've done. And, there are the language lessons on the website, which remain incomprehensible to me. I think I'd have a better chance with heiroglyphics and the Rosetta Stone. Also, in case you were wondering, the font "Georgian," which this entry is written in, has no resemblence whatsoever to written Georgian.

I plan to call SATO on Monday to book my flight to Philadelphia - hopefully for the 12th so I can see some friends before my life is turned upside down...errr...takes a dramatic turn towards the interesting. Also, if you are bored, try reading Stories I Stole, by Wendell Steavenson. It chronicles many crazy, crazy (and not to mention endearing) stories about the author's time spent living in Georgia.


07 May 2006

What? I'm leaving when?

No, my departure date hasn't changed, but gosh, it's coming up quick. I don't think I'm nearly as stressed as I should be about it - and not to mention how much more prepared I should be. But, I am heeding the advice of many of the volunteers who are currently in Georgia who say to spend your last month or so with friends and family, and to worry about learning the language, etc once I arrive in T'bilisi. Hopefully that is sound advice, since I seem to be abiding by it exclusively.

I've started saying some goodbyes already, which is a bit soon, I think. It's also making me really consider just how near my Georgian adventure is. So, on that note...if anyone reading this is going to be in Philadelphia (or within driveable distance of the same) on June 13 or 14th (not sure which night, if not both, I may be availible for a final night out with friends), hopefully I can postpone goodbyes until then. That might ease things a bit, I hope.

I received the handbook written by current PCVs in Georgia about two weeks ago...it's extremely interesting and extraordinarily informative. Also, it's easy to burn, so if you want a copy, let me know. It could give you a better idea of what exactly I'll be doing when I am there.

For the people at W&M, try to pick up a copy of the May issue of the Dog Street Journal. They did a feature on four seniors who are (in their opinion, anyway) doing something interesting after graduation. Along with an interview with me, there are also interviews with people doing Teach for America, Fulbright Scholarship stuff in China, and something else that I can't remember. Apparently the fourth person just isn't as interesting as the other three of us. For those of you not fortunate enough to currently reside in Williamsburg, a copy of the issue should be available online shortly. I'll try to remember to post the address when it becomes available.

Now it's time for the first installment of Fun With the Georgian Language. Mainly, this means that I am confused. Very confused. For example, this installment features the Georgian equivalant of "father" and some unfortunate names for laundry detergent. This must seem so interesting to everyone else, but I know you have nothing better to do, and for that I apologize.

So, "father" in Georgian is "mama." Luckily, Georgian doesn't have gender pronouns, or else I'd be hopelessly confused.

Also, one of the leading brands of laundry detergent in Georgia is called Barf. Want to clean your clothes? Be sure to soak them in Barf before washing.

Finally, I graduate in 8 days. Some Georgian wine is an appropriate surprise gift. But please, no chacha.