As I told a friend whom I emailed recently, I won't apologize for my blog posts being so far apart; I would waste far too much time if I did. I may, however, start blogging more. I just found out that Blogspot has a mobile blogging service. This is extremely handy, because I now have a cellphone and can easily access the internet, though only the mobile web. Life has become considerably better since I got my phone.
I am just going to make a general post about what's been going on the last month or so instead of focusing on a specific topic. I won't be making a post with pictures for another month or so, unfortunately, because PST (pre-service training) has become even busier than it was before.
We all recently visited our permanent sites and stayed with our new host families for a few days. I love my new site. It's a large city (at least, what's considered a large city in Armenia, meaning about 100,000) with tons of stuff to do. While there, I visited a large church and watched the service (Armenia is home to the oldest Christian state church in the world, the Armenian Apostolic Church), went shopping at the supermarket and finally bought good chocolate, got decorating ideas for my eventual apartment from the home furnishings store, went to an art gallery, and went to a rock concert--a fucking rock concert, y'all. I know that's nothing in America, but here it's a pretty big treat to be able to live somewhere with easy access to something like that. My permanent site is also incredibly beautiful, nestled between mountains that actually have trees. That's fairly significant, as deforestation is a major problem in Armenia. After the energy crisis of 1988, the country went from about 10-11% forested to around 4%. It used to be 25% forest long ago.
We recently visited Dlijan National Park, which is incredibly gorgeous. It's set in somewhat rugged mountains (though not nearly so rugged as Idaho's) and is completely covered with trees. It looks a little like the Appalachians, but a bit more rugged than most parts of that particular range. It was so nice to just go hiking again for the first time since I've been here. I had missed it greatly.
In the coming weeks we'll be doing our nine practicums for Armenian school children. Six will be in English, but 3 will have to be fully in Armenian. I don't in any way feel comfortable enough with my Armenian yet for that not to be a huge deal. I think most of us feel that way. I'm incredibly anxious about the whole process. Frankly, I don't like kids that much to begin with, but I've been assigned to an educational NGO so I'll be teaching kids for the next two years. I'm sure I'll adjust, but it will be a challenge. It's made slighly better because I'm working with disadvantaged and at-risk youth, so at least the work is much more rewarding, if maybe even more difficult.
By chance, I stumbled upon the town muscle head and have begun working out with him, which is just fantastic. I was going out for a short run before my body weight/water-filled buckets workout that I've devised, when a fellow volunteer stopped me on the street. He was talking to this guy and told me that he had a workout bench with barbell, weights, and dumbells, and the guy invited me to come workout with him. Even better, the guy seems to really know his stuff, so he's acting as a trainer for me. He's a really nice guy, and I'm so glad to have run into him.
Lastly, I'm happy to be able to say that I have less than a month left of PST (pre-service training). It has been an incredibly stressful time, but from all accounts life becomes much simpler afterwards. It will be nice to slow down a bit. I am, however, going to miss my host family in my PST site incredibly. They have become family to me, and they are dear to me. I am going to miss them, I'm going to miss my room, the wonderful garden, my little piece of heaven in Armenia (it's a fabulous little spot under the cherry trees where my host mom has a little glass table and a stump for a chair where she and I both read and write), and all my Armenian friends that I've made. Such is life, I suppose, but I will be keeping in contact with them for sure.