Since it’s almost the end of the year, I thought I would take some time to reflect on 2018. A lot has happened this year. From moving across the world, starting a new job, and learning a new language. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. Although I’ve experienced a bunch, I thought I would just touch on some highlights below:
Changes of 2018
1. Change of Scenery – Country
I moved from the comforts of the Midwest United States to Moldova, over 5,000 miles away. Although many things, like farmland and such are similar, there have been big changes of scenery. The country is much more rural than where I am from in America. The village I live in, on paper, has 3,000 residents. The nearest big town is around 25 kilometers away and it has 11,000 people. Instead of driving everywhere, I now walk. In fact, weeks at a time I don’t even get into a vehicle. If I travel at all, usually, it’s by rutiera (bus). Being in a new country has also been dealing with new traditions and new cultural experiences. Change doesn’t have to be bad, it has just been different.
2. People – Saying goodbye to old friends and hello to new ones
I am blessed to have an amazing support system back home (as an example, if you are reading this and know me from the states, you are apart of that system in some way). The hardest part of leaving was saying goodbye. Living next door to my grandparents and having my grandmother stay with us a few days a week meant that I saw all of them nearly every day. Because of where other family members worked, I was able to stop by and say hello or they would stop by our house on their way home. Not seeing them, not seeing friends and neighbors, and not seeing work colleagues has been the biggest and toughest adjustment.
But with saying goodbye (and see you in a short 27 months), I was able to say hello to so many new people. With all the Peace Corps Volunteers, HCNs (Host Country Nationals), and host family and community members I have met, I have gained new experiences, learned more about different points of views, and created new friendships that would have never been possible in the states. (Thanks PC for giving me my government issued family!) I say this a lot, but I do mean it, I feel very blessed. I have an amazing host family who are helping me excel and have shown me great support (and I will add, my Pre-Service Training Host family was great too). How I got so lucky, I’ll never know.
I left two jobs in the US to take on slightly more in Moldova. Although I technically only have one job now, as a PCV, that job requires many hats to be worn.
I worked for a historic house museum (Reitz Home Museum – definitely check it out!) and the City of Evansville Department of Parks and Recreation. At both places, I had amazing bosses and coworkers/volunteer colleagues. I wasn’t at the Parks & Rec job for very long, but I found all of my coworkers enjoyable to be around. (It probably helped that they liked a lot of the same snacks and food I liked!)
The Reitz Home Museum, its employees and volunteers really made it a second home for me. I gained so much experience there and have such an appreciation for the organization and all the hard work that happens behind the scenes.
These jobs helped me put me where I am today. The skills and knowledge I learned has helped me in my ability to serve in the Peace Corps. Starting a new job is always intimidating, especially in a new culture, but I am very grateful for everything I learned in the last year (and more) from my past jobs that enabled me to have my feet under me as I take on my new job as a Peace Corps Volunteer. As a PCV, I wear many hats; from being a cultural ambassador, assisting organizations in the community, teaching English, or just being present.
I went from speaking and listening to English every day to speaking Romanian and hearing Russian every day. I loved how where I lived in the states and especially when I was at university, I could walk around campus and hear no less than 5 different languages being spoken. It always amazed me. Coming to Moldova, I now hear at least 2 different languages that I rarely heard (and definitely would not have recognized Romanian) back in the states. The change has no been easy, but each day is a new learning day and another day to grow.
5. Comfort Zone
And finally, I’ve definitely got out of my comfort zone. As an American, a get a lot of attention, both good and bad. This alone would push me out of my comfort zone, but of course, it is just the icing on the cake. I am teaching English, something I could never have dreamed of doing. I moved into a culture I had very little knowledge of, live with a host family, and converse in a language I knew nothing of 7 months ago.
Change has been tough, but one thing has stayed the same, I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by a great support system on 2 continents. These are just 5 of the many changes I have experienced in the last year. I’m sure, 2019 will bring even more changes and experiences.
How has your life changed in 2018? Let me know in the comments. And remember to have a nice cup of joe.