Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Az9...Oh My Goodness.

So, last year I wrote a blog post about the arrival of Az8 [link]. Looking back, I remember being in quite a funk. Of course, the post really does not capture the extent of that funk, but eh. The point is: I was really sad my friends were leaving and I was so mixed up about it that I could barely put together a coherent thought.

Well, now it is coming closer to that Az9 time (the next, next group of incoming PCVs) and I am funkless. I am also getting ready for my own COS (Close of Service) conference and preparing to leave this country...however, as part of my extension contract, I will be in Azerbaijan until January 9th, 2012 - which means I will sharing my site with however-many Az9s for a month.

That sort of freaks me out, but hey. I am over the freaking out time.

Anyhoo, I am full of advice and I am not scared to share it. Of course, the disclaimer is as always: I am a 20-something, mixed-race girl living in one of the most ethnically diverse regions of the country.

With that, on to advising it up:

Packing List
50 Tips
The Key to Great Care Packages

I could go on, but seriously...check this blog out. There is a ton of information on here.

Information not on here:

1. Try to save off on the care packages until you are at your permanent site. The moment you touch down, Peace Corps is gonna give you a water filter, sleeping bag, books, and a med kit.

2. Bring good pens. I really cannot stress this enough.

3. Most stuff you can get in Azerbaijan, it just may not taste like the home brand. If that is gonna drive you insane, pack enough for 3 months and hope that a care package arrives as soon as you get to site.

4. You are gonna be sad, tired, frustrated, annoyed, hurt, confused, etc - all within the first day. DO NOT QUIT. If it still bites after the first six months at site, then, maybe, consider leaving early.

5. Bring at least 2 books for PST, but no more. There are a ton of books in the Peace Corps lounge that you will have access to once you swear-in.

6. You can always call me if you are having a bad day or need a translation (someone to explain in Azerbaijani why you are drinking cold water). Just email me for my digits - that sounds weird now, but trust me - it will not in awhile...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Plans

So, the last few blog posts sounds like I am ready to check out...which, I think is a completely normal feeling after spending a month mini re-adjusting to the US...

But...the good news...or at least the reality of it all is that checking out is the last thing on my mind. For all those who are interested, this is what summer has entail for me:

June
Week-long camp in Yevlax, engagement party for friend (Azerbaijani-style), FLEX preparation clubs, conversation clubs

July
AzerDash, Friend's wedding, 2-day counterpart training, summer camp in Lekit, Zaqatala Summer Art Program, FLEX preparation clubs, conversation clubs, cooking club, Frisbee-Fun club,

August 
Ramadan!, Job-readiness 5-day workshop, photography clubs, FLEX preparation clubs, conversation clubs, cooking club, Frisbee-Fun club, COS conference

Of course, I have also invited every Azerbaijani PCV to my house to learn basic canning and to claim my wares for after my departure. I am thinking, it is going to be a pretty jam-packed summer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Americastan

I have been thinking about this post for awhile...well, ever since I wrote the first post [link] that had no conclusion.

I just blew in (and blew out again) of America...after being away for almost 3 years.

I think we should take a pause because, for me, that was a pretty big deal.

It was weird. The moment I touched down on US soil, I felt overwhelmed (which was expected).
What I did not expect was to be slightly dismayed at the lack of fanfare regarding my return (every RPCV talks about this...I will address it in a later post).
I did not expect to bust into tears at the airline ticket counter when a problem with my ticket arose.
I did not expect to hesitate when my friend Regina jumped in the driver's side of her car and motioned for me to get in - in the front seat.
I did not expect to be overwhelmed by how many apple juice options are carried by Fred Meyers.
And all that was mini re-adjusting. I know, for certain, that moving back to America will be hard and frustrating and often just as difficult as adjusting to Azerbaijan.

So here I am, back in Az (with much fanfare and excitement by my local friends) and I am feeling nervous. I am feeling overly emotional and I am feeling confused. Two months ago, I was positive I was going to try and stay overseas. Today, I am 68% certain I want to return to the US and even less certain as to where...

This all sounds rather frustrating...

and it is. It was easy for me to conveniently forget many of my reasons for joining Peace Corps. It was easy to just not want things to change and to live here forever. Of course, that cannot happen. I must take that next step...I just...whew. It is such a scary step.

Okay, check out these America pictures. I will get back to you on the whole "plan" thing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Packing List...Rewind

I remember a time, back in the not too distant past (okay, distant enough), when I was preparing for my Peace Corps service.

I spent at least 14 hours on the interwebs looking for Azerbaijani (Eastern European) PCV packing lists. I was determined to figure out what I should/could bring. I found some things, augmented a few others and came up with this list [link]. A few years (and of course multiple revisions) later and I still think it is a pretty good compilation; however, I would change it up a bit now that I am in my 3rd year...I mean, after several years of language learning (and Löki-explaining), I am all about the bright colors and comfortable (and cute) clothing. I want to dress and look as much like American Löki as safely possible because, let us face it, the goal is not to assimilate but to integrate.

That sounds controversial, but hey. This is my blog.

At any rate...future Peace Corps Persons...ready to pack it in?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Welcome to the World of Waxing (Men, you can skip this installment)

Welcome girls to Löki's World of Hair Removal.

I know, I know. You may ask yourself, "Why the heck is Löki writing about this?" and I do not have an answer, so I am going to skip that question.

Removing hair in Peace Corps is...expensive.

Yes, I said it. Expensive. Before we even get to the hauling of water, the heating of water, the standing in the tub of heated water, let's talk about the purchasing of the razor and shave gel. After an extensive search, I have just one question:
Where in the world can I find non-Axe shave gel in Azerbaijan????? I do not want to smell like a adolescent boy all day.
With no answer in sight, I threw a mini-fit. In this mini-fit rage, I decided to internet research hair removal methodologies and lo and behold, I found this:

Amy's Sugar Waxing Videos [link]

After a few rounds of experimenting, I found I like using strips best, but hey. To each their own.

At any rate, this method worked, it was low (low) in pain, and I only have to do it once or twice a month. Cheap, easy, and I do not smell like a 21 year old Azerbaijani boy. Score.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Mission in Review

So, you may have noticed, I don't really jive with the politics or political issues on this blog. I mean, if you know me (and I am assuming at least 39.8% of my readers know me personally), this is really odd.

It is not because I do not follow Azerbaijani news or read American news or debate the inner-workings of Peace Corps normally.

It is because I follow my own set of rules [link]. As much as I think Azerbaijani politics are interesting, the mission of this blog is not Azerbaijani political commentary. Peace Corps is a huge organization and for all my involvement with it operationally, trying to explain to anyone outside the sphere the nuances is difficult. If you think me unpassionate about the US of A, just email me and I will list out for you why I think the Road Map for America leads us all away from America.

So, what is the mission of this blog? Well, this whole post was just so I could tell it to you. My mission is:

To advance the Peace Corps Third Goal by providing insightful and entertaining commentary through weekly blog posts seeking to engage and inform interested parties in the lifestyle and experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I wrote that myself.