Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 1

Talofa tele lava (many greetings, an exciting hello, etc.!)

Its been a great first week here in Am Sam! My fellow volunteers are fantastic and we're having a blast!

Here are some things I've been up to:

*7 hours of class on week days and several hours on weekends (classes consist of the Samoan language, lesson planning, classroom management, go-to-know about the island, etc)
*Set-up a bank account (might I add that the bank looks like the DMV where you have to pull a number and I had to wait an hour and then it took 45 minutes to set it up)
*I take showers with cold water (which feels really good) but the shower is a PVC pipe with a hole cut out for the spout
*For 20 girls there are 3 showers and 3 toilets
*The shower building is 2 buildings over
*We're sleeping in classrooms on a mattress on the ground and living out of our suitcases for 3 weeks
*Our water has to be boiled or bottled to drink
*Hitchhiking it common and I've done it twice
*Hiked to a waterfall and swam in my clothes (I have some nice sores on my feet from my chacos that I haven't broken in yet)
*Toured my 13 mile long island (which took 4+ hours) and took 200 pictures (our bus overheated and we had to stop haha- the buses have huge basses and play music really loud)
*The Justin Beiber song "Baby" has been translated and is played often- I love it!!
*On the tour we stopped in an outer village and the bathroom looked like it had never been cleaned w/ no TP- I did the hover and dry heave at the same time
*Walked 2 miles to a restaurant at night only to be segregated (Samoans on one side and everyone else on the other). Note to self: don't order chicken at all- my chicken in the salad did not look or taste like real chicken.
*I've been stuck in a sudden downpour and soaked to the bone
*Swam in the ocean and then had to take and bus and wake a ways (it was really uncomfortable to say the least)
*I'll work at Tafuna HS teaching business classes. This school is the biggest and notorious for having really bad kids. Apparently vocational classes are the dumping ground for those who need classes to fill their schedule. So I'll have 9-12 graders who may not speak English, and I could have a desk thrown at me if they get mad. My students will probably get in fights in class! I may need my old big red softball helmet with a face-cage so I don't get hurt!
*I was attacked by a bug or mosquito last night- only 5 bites but they're some nice welts, one of which is on my lip!
*The dogs are a somewhat of a problem and I've had to threaten one by pretending to throw a rock at it!
*I have to buy the traditional clothing to teach in that consist of a shirt down to my ankles and a conservative top- apparently its too breathable so I'll sweat like a pig which is great!
*Its rude to eat and walk here
*I've been pointed and stared at which I find assuming
*I wave to everyone I see here and they all think I'm crazy
*The grocery stores look like dollar stores
* I saw Harry Potter here and it was in English- but parents let their kids run around in the theater and a few babies cried throughout the movie
*It doesn't really look like a third world country but some parts definitely do. Everyone drives a nice truck, there is a McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and Carl's Jrs

I know I'm forgetting a lot but thats the gist of it! I'm on Samoan time where there is no rush to do anything so I'm learning patience! I live in a tropical paradise. The beaches look like they're from a magazine. The water is crystal clear and the prettiest blue! The sunrises are breath-taking. I would describe this like Jurassic Park- just w/o the dinosaurs! It never gets below 70 degrees here and its not as humid as I thought- but if you walk anywhere during the day its a guarantee that you sweat like there is no tomorrow!

I absolutely love it here (but I know I'm still in vacation mode haha!!)

I didn't proof-read this so please excuse any errors!

Fa'afetai (thank you) and Fa (bye)!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 1: LAX


What a day and it's only 2pm! My morning began at 3:30- and having gone to bed at midnight I was a bit tired when I woke up! My mom and I left for the airport around 4:30! I have never flown by myself before so I was nervous when we parked at the terminal.

I am NOT a light packer. My two carry-ons and two checked bags weigh about 120+ pounds- HEAVY HEAVY HEAVY! One of my checked bags my grandma gave me was an army like duffle bag without wheels and weighed about 45 lbs. Dragging all that dead weight left some blisters on my hands and I'm a bit sore for lugging around all the weight.

I flew virgin airlines and was assigned a window seat all the way in the back of the plane. My flight was 100% full and lucky me, I sat next to Chatty Cathy! Fortunately I was able to sleep the first half hour and when I woke up she immediately chatted me up. Our hour+ conversation was actually really great. Chatty Cathy's name was Barbie and she is a hair stylist in her mid fifties. She is a recovering alcoholic and shared her story with me. Barbie has a daughter about my age and she was kind enough to became my mom for the rest of the flight and found me a restroom, helped me get my luggage, and showed me to the shuttles- this was great b/c I was so lost. She was definitely walking like she was on a mission which was challenging to keep up as I dragged, rolled, and carried all my crap.

After the shuttle and at the hotel I realized (more the person checking me in) I was at the wrong hotel- the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express are a little too similar. By then I was exhausted and it took a lot for me to hold it together. I was by myself, sleep deprived, grumpy, and didn't know where I was but knew enough to know I wasn't where I was suppose to be. But they were nice and had a shuttle come and get me to the correct hotel. So I get to my room and am starving. There is a nearby 7-11 and I grab some food. Little did I know there is no microwave in my room to heat anything up. I walked all over the hotel and finally was able to find one in the laundry room where no one spoke English!

Once I took a break and caught a second wind I realized I will not rip up my hands carrying all my luggage. (WorldTeach told us we need to be able to carry our things up to 6 blocks and 4 flights of stairs- and that was not going to happen with this duffel bag!) So I called a cab and went to Target and bought one. This may not seem like a big deal but I've never been in a cab before let alone by myself in California with all those crazy drivers!

I am the first arrive in my group and we have a meeting tonight at 9. Soooo until then I am going to take a nice long nap in the sun by the pool! Tomorrow we leave for Hawaii (a 5 hour flight) at 10:30 am with a  few hour lay over and then another 5 or 6 hour flight to Am Sam! Lots of traveling tomorrow and I'm excited to meet everyone and not travel by myself!!

Until next time!!!!