There was a delay in getting internet in our apartments, so I haven’t been able to post much. But now we have connectivity. I am hoping I can post more regularly and have more meaningful, in depth content. Thanks for your patience.
This has been a remarkable adventure. It is the hardest, scariest thing I have even done. It has also be the best, most fun thing I have even done. I am still not entirely settled here. Things are going fairly well, but there are a few question marks lingering. My happy travels could take a turn at any minute and the fun could be cut short. I hope not, but I am prepared for a premature departure if necessary. My health is good and I am safe. Immigration issues and such would be the reason, not anything dangerous. That should all be worked out this week. I will feel much more settled when it is. I am sure it will be worked out.
A little over three weeks ago, I boarded a plane and took an exhausting, nerve wracking trek of about 8000 miles. It was easier to leave than I thought it would be. My ability to handle the flight, worry over lost luggage, making all the connections, and general travel anxiety were my biggest concerns. I didn’t have time to think about differences in language and culture, the actual job I would be performing, or homesickness that might be in my immediate future. So I stepped on the plane and went. I cried at the security checkpoint for a moment leaving my mom. But I was fine once I made it through the scanner and got to the gate. The flight had a few of the usual hiccups, but was better than I thought it would be. And I survived it better than I thought I would. There was a minor lost luggage incident, but the piece was recovered and all is well.
I could write for several days telling you about my first three weeks here. I won’t. I will say that the Kazakhstani people are, for the most part, some of the nicest, happiest, most helpful people I could have imagined. Pavlodar was a military supply production area for decades and was off limits to foreigners. So the people here are very happy to have us here. They are curious and want to learn English. Those who know English have no problem coming up to you and starting a discussion. If they don’t speak English and I am with a local teacher, they will ask them about us. The restaurant staff and local market workers are working very diligently to communicate with us. No one has starved or even missed a meal. We have managed. Google translate and other apps are getting a real workout. And the international educators are learning more of the language. Every day is a scavenger hunt. You not only have to find what you want, but then you have to figure out how to obtain it. Oddly, usually, it is more fun than frustrating. We laugh a lot. The Kazakhstanis have a great sense of humor and the other foreigners are loving the experience. I am surrounded by kindness and happiness and laughter.
My brain is on overtime. Navigating the job, the city, the language. Learning so many things. Constantly trying to solve issues before they actually become problems. Adapting to the culture. It takes everything I’ve got and more. I frequently have to call in reinforcements. Luckily, I have a great team working with me and lots of resources.
The real work at school is just starting. I am beginning to figure out my place in the education process here. It is very different than the US. Today I did the 8 page book foldable with my class. It was fun. They seemed to enjoy it and find the study guide that we made helpful. I was pleased. But I have a steep learning curve ahead of me. And with that statement, I am off to work on lessons for tomorrow and practice my Russian! Love and peace to you all!