Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy and content...until practice school

To give you a better idea of what I'm going through with my training I thought I'd provide you with a few excerpts from a book the Peace Corps gave all of the trainees. The tongue-in-cheek title "a few minor adjustments" hints at the tone and voice of the book overall. I found it fascinating in the way it was able to describe so completely all of the things I was going through even though the book was written more than 10 years ago by other RPCV's that probably did not live in Moldova.

One of my favorite quotes from the book sums up the Pre-service training experience as "like no other training in the world, having something in common with college life, officer's training, Marine basic training, and a ninety-day jail sentence." I can say that this sums it up pretty well but to go a little deeper it also says "in training […] your time -- and, indeed, your life -- are not your own. Most PST's are tightly scheduled; there's a lot to cover and not much time. Which means spectacularly full days, partially-filled evenings, and pre-empted Saturday mornings. You are told when to eat, when to sleep, and when to go to the bathroom, not to mention what to think and how to feel. You feel at times that you're being treated like a child, which is at once something of a relief, for you are a bit shaky in these early days, and something of an insult. You understand that training has to be an orderly affair, that it's better if certain things are decided and done for you, that all in all it's not a bad bargain: you give up handy little personal freedoms and turn control of your life over to total strangers and get some very good training in return. Being adult humans, you quite understand this state of affairs, you readily accept it, and you smilingly acquiesce.

And if you're at all normal, you deeply resent it."

In a lot of ways being treated like a child makes sense for me right now because for the most part I am very much like a child. I only speak the language at a 2-3 year old level, if Im being generous, I can't cook for myself, I can't operate any machines without instructions beforehand, and I do things that no one understands and sometimes might be horrified by…though I haven't had any specific examples of this yet..thankfully.

The worst part is that all of this requires my brain to be more awake than it ever has before and as a product of this I am extremely tired all the time. Again to go back to the book, "suddenly nothing, not even going to the bathroom, is a routine. The loss of routines means the energy that was available for higher order, more sophisticated tasks now goes to basic coping and survival functions. With the minutiae of everyday life now demanding much of your conscious attention, bigger things, like learning a language or a technical skill […] take longer to accomplish." and for me leave me feeling exhausted…which is also apparently a symptom of Culture Shock as listed in the book. Specifically it says, "You begin to feel lethargic and require more sleep; you are easily bored, easily irritated, and effortlessly homesick." So far Im only feeling the tired portion but if my thoughts of fast-food restaurants continue to intensify I might be in trouble.

Lastly, the book also touches on an aspect of Peace Corps life that I found myself unable to avoid, even though I sincerely wish I had, being sick. As it says, "Getting sick heightens your already elevated sense of vulnerability and helplessness, your feeling of not being in control, in this case of your own body. Nor is it fun to have to think of food--even this food--as something to be wary of. The bottom line here is that when you're sick in bed, and that bed is located in a foreign country, things can look very bad indeed."

However, at this present moment:
I have eaten the most amazing food all day today (baby pancakes with apricot jelly! along with other amazing things…),
I have drank a full two liter bottle of water (trips to the magazin and my running water options had been limited the past few days),
I took a hot bath,
I had my Peer teaching lesson and it went great so my stress level is back to zero,
lastly, the heat finally died down and I would estimate that it is only about 75-78 right now (nearly midnight)

Which means when I finally finish writing this blog post in a couple seconds I will be able to go to sleep completely happy, contented, stress-free and with a slight cool breeze. I'll sleep amazingly well tonight.

Noapte Buna!

[UPDATE! I wrote this last night and I indeed slept amazingly well. And today was perfect weather.]

No comments:

Post a Comment