I’ve been putting off writing this post for a while. I also need to write something for my personal blog, but I thought I’d tackle this one first, since I’ve officially left TLG and, by extension, this blog. I’ve been in Georgia since January, so minus two months I spent home in the summer, almost a year.
How do you sum up a year in one blog post? Talk about culture shock and adaptation? Georgian driving mostly doesn’t bother me anymore, I found myself frying most things in sunflower seed oil after I moved into an apartment with some other TLGers in the Fall, and I run so perpetually late that Georgians often arrive before me.
Do I talk about teaching? The difficulties of working with co-teachers mixed with their generosity and caring. Or the extreme rambunctiousness of my students followed inevitably by behavior so sweet you can’t help but forgive them.
How about my travels? Hiking to alpine waterfalls in Svaneti with a picnic lunch of hard-boiled eggs, svanuri marili, and khachapuri. Snapping photos of animatronic dinosaurs at the Sataplia caves. Busting a move on a 20-story high, spinning dance floor in Batumi with a bunch of young Azeris.
Better yet, let me talk about my host family. My hard-working, super sweet host mom, Natia, whom I can really only communicate with through my host siblings, but who will show her love with a hug and khachapuri. My host dad, Besso, the strong, silent, wine-drinking type who will almost bring you to tears with his open expressions of love for his family and me. My amazingly beautiful host sister who always has a line of boys strung behind her but most nights would rather hang out and girl talk. My host brother with his nonsensical “anekdoti” and karate demonstrations, charming in their attempt to be intimidating. And last, but certainly not least, my Georgian bebia, who will drive you nuts telling you exactly what she thinks you ought to be doing from what socks to wear to which man to marry (ideally her 40-year old divorced friend Levani), and who will go from scolding you one second to laughing and hugging you the next. It can be really hard to live with people from another culture, but I feel so, so lucky to have found people who care about me so much, so far away from “home.”
And it goes without saying that there are my friends, namely the other TLGers I spent 11 months with, talking out our issues over our ghetto flashlight phones, because they’re the only ones who really get what we’re going through. It’s so sad that they’re mostly leaving Georgia now, especially because I’m not. I won’t be with TLG anymore, but I’ve decided to stay in Tbilisi for a bit. This charming country has gotten under my skin. I’ve gotten used to the infrequent showers, poor heating, and people always asking if you’re married within five minutes of meeting you, and I’m happy here.
Thank you, TLG, for bringing me to Georgia. I hope I’ve managed to return the favor this year in the classroom. So as my year of TLG wraps up, I am looking forward to the coming year and whatever new adventures it brings me. I hope you all have a wonderful, happy new year. Gilotsavt!