About the Blog

I recently accepted a position from Teach and Learn with Georgia, a Georgian Ministry of Education program designed to bring native speakers of English into classrooms around the country. I will be moving to Georgia in August of 2014 to begin my assignment.

Before this latest adventure, I studied at Bogazici University in Istanbul Turkey and at Azerbaijan University of Languages. I speak English German Spanish, Turkish Azerbaijani and Uzbek and am currently trying my hand at Georgian.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Well guys, I apologize for the delay. Good news though, my family now has wifi that I can use! Perhaps I will actually start updating this on a regular basis. Crazy thought. They also now have air conditioning but it is not hot enough to use it yet. It really isn't too hot in Baku yet so long as you don't go anywhere or do anything but sit around. Or if you are a Bakuvian. Hence my issue with the heat. Now to update you on the craziness that is currently my life.

Last week in class we learned about celebrations in Azerbaijan and compared them to ones in the US. I now can tell you, in Azerbaijani, the differences and similarities between Novruz Bayrami and Christmas. Also between US and Azerbaijani weddings. The girls on this trip are discovering that first of all getting married quite young is not unusual. Two girls on the program went to a peer tutor's house and were informed that they needed to get married as soon as they are done with school. They are currently 21 and 22 years old. I think maybe the biological clock starts ticking sooner here or something. Anyway, getting married is a long and complicated process which requires extensive information gathering by the entire family on both sides about the other side, bargaining on the part of the parents and the boy's family convincing the girl's family that their son/nephew/grandson/vaguely related male relative deserves their daughter. Me and Matt, the other guy in my class, had to practice with our imaginary son. Quite impressively he had discovered a new element, won a Nobel prize and had tenure at UC Berkley and was only 25. We make pretty great kids, what can I say. Then I laughed until I cried. My grammar class is a struggle for me, mostly because my goal here is not to speak in the passive tense with a primary focus on the object of the sentence in the conditional. I would like to buy stamps and not get so lost that I die. I don't ask for much.

In terms of after class cultural activity we went one day to Shirvanshalar Sarayi, the palace of the rulers of Azerbaijan from 861 to 1539 though most of this time the capital wasn't in Baku. Then we went to the 4th of July party (on the 3rd) at the embassy and the police watched me change my dress in the street (as in every policeman in Baku, I swear they'll be talking about me for years). No worries I didn't show anything more scandalous than my knees and shoulders, but it was liberating to do something so rebellious here. I felt American. My new mantra is "do something scandalous every day". It's not too difficult to achieve.Then I watched a bunch of middle aged diplomats and bureaucrats hit the American beer. I can't blame them, it's America's birthday. We ought to enjoy. Also I saw the Caspian Dreamers perform (look them up on youtube, it's awesome). They had 4 fangirls at that party, all members of our group. And they were still the most popular ladies men at the place. Did I mention there are not many expat women? Mostly I think it was an event to try and hire as many of us as possible because practically no one in the US can speak Azerbaijani. I will be in demand someday! We also listened to a lecture about Azerbaijan's exports (have you heard of oil?) went to the Teze Bazar (fresh market), where the meat and cheese section smelled a little less than teze. So I bought raspberries instead. We learned how to make qutab from our teachers (a flatbread filled with greens and then grilled and slathered in butter) and listened to them laugh at how wretched we were at it. Friday was a treat though because I spent the afternoon hanging out with friends and learning how the grammar actually works through a special tutorial session, finding out our activities would be curtailed because we are doing 3 extra every week, had a short stop at home to Skype with my sister Mary and then we went as a group to the philharmonic of Baku. I will say for the Soviets, they produce great musicians. It was so beautiful. I felt calm wash over me as I sat in the theater and I realized that currently I am content with my life. I do not have the frustration of the first week or the euphoria of the second, but instead a happy medium where I have no desire to be anywhere else, or to change anything about what I am doing. My Azerbaijani is coming along to the point where I speak it in my sleep. I am making friends. I know the city. I do not know that I can ask for much more. I will update you all about my weekend trip to Quba once my homework is done. It is a good story, I promise. Until then goruserik!

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