Things We Wish We’d Known

Posted on March 23, 2012 by


Dear Prospective TLG Volunteers,

We once sat where you sit now.  We once perused the TLG website or the Greenheart Forums or the Footprints Teacher Blogs and thought to ourselves, Could do that?  We once asked our friends and families what they thought of the idea of moving to Georgia–no, not the state.

As we look back through the mists of time, we realized that there were several things we wished we had known before we came to Georgia.  That’s not to say we would have changed our minds about coming to Georgia, heaven forbid!  Far from it!  Really we just want to help inform future generations of TLG Volunteers and help you help yourself.

And so, go ahead and press play on this Georgian folk music to give yourself something pleasant and inspirational to listen to as you scroll through our tidbits of wisdom (or pseudo-wisdom, as it were!)

    1. I wish I had known more about real winters so that I could have packed more appropriately. Snow is some crazy business. -Brigid Weir
    2. I wish I would have known how cold my bedroom would be. -Lauren Michels
    3. I wish I had known about how warm of a climate Georgia has (how’s that for syntax?)… I definitely packed for cooler weather—though my warm clothes were great to have this January and February!—and as such am going to have to buy some summer-weather clothes very soon. I also wish I’d known how hard this country is on shoes… -Amy Sandager
    4. I wish I had known that shoes especially, and typically clothes in general, in this country are either very expensive or somewhat low quality. I wouldn’t have planned on restocking here. -Cass Lowry
    5. I wish I had put more thought into the importance of looking good in public… I left behind a lot of things like those tall boots with heels that all the girls are wearing and it kills me that I know they’re just sitting in my mom’s basement. -Kendra Paradis
    6. I wish I had known that my family and teachers at school wear more or less the same things every day – i definitely would’ve brought fewer clothes. -Caitlin Smith
    7. I second Caitlin’s sentiment in that I wish I knew wearing the same clothes everyday was acceptable. I also wish I would’ve known more about which products were easily purchasable/more difficult to find/more expensive. Probably would’ve packed differently. -Mikkela Blanton
    8. I wish I had known that I would fall in love with Georgia and want to stay here forever, because then I would have devoted more time and effort to putting my affairs in order (i.e. selling all my useless junk on craigslist) back in New York! -Neal Zupancic
    9. Honestly what I wish I knew is that I would end up staying so long…  I planned to go directly to Korea after this so I brought a ton of Korean materials and thought I could restock- clothes and stuff- when I got to my next destination so now pretty much everything I brought has been savagely chewed up and spit out by the CIS… I’ve also of course run out of anything I brought from the west like health or other products… -Kendra Paradis, again
    10. Wish I knew that this winter was the most ‘unusual winter’ they have had in recent years…..!!! -KC Chakela
    11. I wish I had known what a subtropical climate really is. I came prepared for surviving a winter high up in the mountains and instead have yet to experience a snowfall that stuck for more than a few hours. But I guess its better to be too prepared than not prepared enough. -Nathan Bourne
    12. That the “sub-tropical” environment of Batumi doesn’t apply to the winter months. -Charlotte Vaillancourt
    13. I wish I’d known that wearing light blue here says a lot more about one’s sexuality than it does in the West. -Kiyoshi Kadota
    14. I wish I had known that my host family wouldn’t have many spices.  I would definitely have brought some to cook with. -Philip Cornelison
    15. As much as I love Georgian food (and I do love Georgian food!), I wish I had known how difficult it would be to get really good Mexican food, pizza, and Chinese.  Not impossible, mind you, just difficult, you know? -Raughley Nuzzi
    16. Also, dental floss and contact solution: pricey here, easy to bring from home. -Cass Lowry, again
    17. I wish I had known that schools in general here have very few, if any, teaching resources available. I definitely would have brought some of my own, saving me from having to start from scratch here. -Faiza Din
    18. I also wish I had known about the awesome and unrestricted camping possibilities, so I would have brought that tent that I debated so hard over and then left at home! -Amy Nelson
    19. I wish I had known not only how extremely unlikely I’d be to get a daily shower, but also that it was likely it would be more like every 4+ days.  I would have looked into dry shampoo or some other options to try and avoid the perpetual greasy-haired look.  On an even more superficial note, I also wish I’d known you can only buy extremely flimsy fingernail clippers here.  I definitely would have made sure not to forget mine at home that way! -Sabrina Badger
    20. I wish I had bothered to learn more of the language before I came!  That would have been really helpful. -Mary Rodgers
    21. I’ve got to turn this question on its head and say I’m glad there were a couple of things I didn’t know before I came.  I’m glad I didn’t know just how difficult the winter would feel – I might have opted out. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. -Mzuri Livingrootless
    22. I was prepared for life without running water, conservative values and unpaved roads (as an avid cyclist, this is a genuine sacrifice). But I wish I had known that decent espresso (in Tbilisi) and excellent turkish coffee (just about everywhere) was available. I wouldn’t have tried to prepare myself by going without it in America for months before I came. -Jason Fazzio
    23. I wish I would’ve known to bring a variety of entertainment options; you can’t always read a book if the power goes out at night. -Andrea Boyer
    24. I would have boned up on my Michael Jackson lyrics.  I always feel woefully inadequate when I can’t sing along! -Raughley Nuzzi, again
    25. What I wish I had known before coming to Georgia – I also wish I had known about the lack of heating in the household.
      What I wish we had been told at orientation – About the sensitivity of communication within the household and the need to keep issues within the family. -Stacey Carmichael
    26. I wish I would have known to pick a random “favorite” futbol team and player, even though I don’t really follow the sport. It would make a lot of conversations easier because when I tell them I enjoy watching futbol but don’t know enough to name a favorite team/player they get really confused and think I dislike futbol, and the conversation ends quickly. Now it’s too late to go back and revise my information, because now everybody in the village knows I can’t have a conversation about futbol and they consistently ask me why I don’t like it. Amy Nelson, again

Hopefully our experiences will help you arm yourself with the knowledge of those who came before you. In the words of the Book of Proverbs, Sir Francis Bacon, and Thomas Hobbes, “Knowledge is Power.” In the less-well-regarded words of Indiana Jones, “[The interdimensional beings’–I swear they’re not aliens–] treasure wasn’t gold; it was knowledge. Knowledge was their treasure.

So, take our power.  Take our treasure.  Make it yours.

We’ll see you when you get here!

The Official TLG Bloggers