Thursday, November 27, 2008

You've Got Mail

I love mail. I love letters, I love wedding invitations (sorry, but unless your name is Meghan, Sarah or Aggie, you’re out of luck on my showing up), I love holiday cards, and I do love boxes.

So, what’s up with this post? Well, it’s that time when my address changes. I’m going to post it here, but I’ve also updated my Mail Instructions link (located in the left hand column). Check it out!

Löki Gale Tobin,PCV
Mǝrkǝz: Poçt
Tǝlǝb Ƌdilǝnǝdǝk
Zaqatala, Azǝrbaycan
AZ 6200


This will be my permanent address for the next two years, so keep it handy!

And of course, here’s the answers to a couple frequently asked questions:

  • Do I have to pay to pick up my mail? Moo question. Like a cow’s opinion, it doesn’t matter. I like mail (unless it is completely frivolous things....uhm Mr. Tobin).
  • How long does mail take to arrive? My site mate said it’s 10 days from Oregon. Alaska, probably 2 weeks (that’s for flat rate mailers).
  • Is there anything specific I would like? Yes, I’ve got a list going (located in Mail Instructions). Don’t forget the chocolate.
  • How confident is the mail system in AZ? I am confident I will get my mail, however it is a good idea to insure boxes of expensive things (like parkas).
  • How important is writing the address correctly? Very important. You may notice the address has a few non-English letters. If you are uncertain, please email me. There is a big difference here on an i with a dot and and an ı without a dot.
I hope that answers everything...oh, before I forget. I know a PCV who’s friend shipped bottles of their local brewery’s deliciousness...if anyone wanted to bubble wrap some Alaskan Amber, I would love you forever.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My First Song! (Well, sort of...)

So, making things rates #1 on my list of fun things to do with down time. In starting this PC adventure, I knew carting along my sewing machine or a couple dozen mason jars was probably not conducive to my new minimalist lifestyle.

So, with the help of my awesome friend Sarah H., I re-picked up the guitar with the hopes of guitar playing becoming one of my creative hobbies in AZ.
Unfortunately, I had to leave my guitar at home. Thus, one of my priorities has been to find a guitar store. Last week, that priority was finally met and I picked out a (cheap) beauty!

I am still waiting to name my new Extreme guitar (I named another PCT’s guitar, so by rights, he gets to name mine), but over the past week, I’ve been jammin out. I even dreamed up my first chord progression: Am, E, Dm, Am7, E7, Am. First three chords get 4 beat, the next two get 2 beats and the pattern ends on the final Am. Personally, I’m using the neat strumming pattern Arlo H. taught me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

AZ Personal Reflection #1: Culture Shock

To be honest, I did not expect this phenomenon to hit me at all. I thought growing up an “outsider” in western Alaska had given me great insight into being immersed in a unique and sometimes vastly different culture than what I would consider my own.

Yet, this past week, I got a healthy dose of culture shock. At first, I was upset. Didn’t I spend countless hours talking through possible scenarios and problems with my friends and family? Didn’t I spend days in self introspection? Didn’t I already live through this several times over?

Well, as it has been said, “Oh, how the mighty will fall.” Well, I definitely fell. I got my reminder that no matter how much prep you do, you can’t prep for this.

On a related note, being here as definitely highlighted that the culture I grew up in is very much intertwined with my self image. Although my family is not original from Alaska, I am. I am a part of the beautiful Alaskan community I have lived in, enjoyed, and am committed to serving as soon as I return home.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Soccer Sundays

I love Sundays. I wake up late. I linger over a second cup of çay (pronounced chai, but don’t make the same mistake I did, it’s english breakfast tea). I hit up the internet cafe for a couple Skype phone calls and a slow perusal of news.

I also love Sundays because Saturday night, I am sending out mass texts that say:

Soccer. 1230. Dove.

For many of us, it’s hard getting that daily requirement of exercise. A few of us wake up early enough to run, but lazy people (like me), struggle to get out of bed in time for language class. I do make time to do a ballet conditioning dvd and doink around with my power band, but that’s nothing compared to swimming 1500 yards several times a week.

Luckily, a couple fantastic trainees came up with the idea of Soccer Sundays. Now, the point isn’t to win (well, for some of us it isn’t). It’s to have fun, be goofy, and spend countless minutes running up and down a full size soccer field.

After a Soccer Sunday, I don’t feel so bad about my new Twix-A-Day habit.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Maşukalar (in English: Marshukas)

As many of you know, my insides are definitely green in nature and boy, was I excited when I learned about AZ’s awesome mass transit system, marşukas. A marşuka is a autobus (similar to the van operated by the family on Jon & Kate Plus 8) that carts people to and from locations. Neat things about marşukas include:
  • They stop anywhere. Just walk out to a street and flag one down.
  • They numbered so you know which ride goes where.
  • They are cheap. For as little as 20 gepik you can hitch a ride.
  • They are usually pretty full, meaning that many people are not using cars that contribute to greenhouse gas emission!
Now, of course there are some bad things:
  • On rainy days, an available space in a marşuka is hard to come by.
  • It takes awhile to get used to the driving style.
  • If you start looking for a specific number/ route, you will never find it. 
Just get a gander at the Youth Development groups’ marşuka pictures!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


AZERCell Nokia Cell Phone: 70 manat

5000 Kontors (to send and receive text messages): 10 manat

Text message from my sister in California: $0.25

Finding out Barak Obama is our President-Elect: Euphoric

P.S. I won the lottery on Wednesday...well, not the lottery.

On Wednesday, I found out who the next President of the US of A will be and I also learned where my home will be over the next two years. Look for the upcoming post on Zaqatala.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bir Ay!

Bet you have no idea what this title means. Don’t sweat it, I got this means...*drum roll*... one month! That’s right, I’ve got enough lingo under my belt to spell and say bir ay and mean it!

Actually, a few weeks ago I took my mid-training LPI (Language Proficiency Indicator) and received a great score of Intermediate-Low. That’s pretty radtacular for a person who’s had been at this for less than a month.

On another note, guess what I’ve been doin’ this last month?! Being a PCT in AZ!! That’s right! Bir ay is a celebratory phrase for my first month of service. You’d think that at this point, my excitement would have simmered down to a slow boil, but it hasn’t. I can’t wait for tomorrow as I will learn one of two great things: my permanent site placement and of course, who’s the President-Elect of our great country. Woo-hoo for awesome events!

P.S. If you are reading this and the days make no sense to you, I am 13 hours ahead of you Alaska folks, which makes your November 4 my November 5.