We left the airport in Amsterdam refreshed and caffeinated; I was luckily seated right in front of a local gal, Nino, from Tbilisi who gave me her card, mobile number, home number, office number, and e-mail address to contact her for *anything* I might need while I'm here. She also told me that her brother lives in Kutaisi (near where my host family will be) and that she'd gladly make him drive me to whatever city I'd like to visit ;) If that isn't a warm welcome from a complete stranger, then I don't know what is. Our TLG (Teach and Learn with Georgia) staff member is also named Nino and told us that if we know Nino, we know the name of 50% of Georgian women. Nino is like a pseudo-mother to us all; she has been so protective of us all since we've landed. We landed in Tbilisi pretty thankful to be out of the air and finally at our destination. We were told to expect some media attention at the airport. Because our program is government sponsored, everyone knows and is interested in our presence. I was picturing a few cameras, but was in no way prepared for the paparazzi parade that awaited us outside of baggage claim. Reporters from big time news broadcasts like BBC had cameras and microphones shoved right in our faces. It was quite comical since they can't speak English and never actually asked us any questions - so I found myself looking like a deer in headlights not knowing exactly what kind of message/statement they were expecting from me. Boy, was I glad when that was over.
We took a bus to the hotel, checked in to our rooms, and ran like hell to the showers. The hotel is extremely clean and nice and we have an amazing view of the city from our back lobby. We're here until Thursday and then check out again to go to our next hotel for more orientation. There are 92 teachers in total, and we are still waiting on some of them to land in Tbilisi. Once everyone arrives, we head to Kutaisi (the second largest city in Georgia and located within the region we'll be living) to a school/hotel combo-type place to stay. From Sept. 3 - Sept. 9, we have a very packed schedule & orientation classes: breakfast at 9, Georgian language classes from 10-1:15, lunch at 1:30, ESL methodology classes from 2:30-6:45, dinner at 8, and then "evening festivities" - whatever that might mean ;) I'm so full of excitement and joy merely thinking about my schedule; I feel like I'm right back in college!
A note on scheduling: Georgia does everything later. No one rises until well past 9:00, so breakfast is never earlier than 9 or 10 in the morning. Lunch is always around 3pm, and dinner is always at 9pm! So basically, I eat dinner at about the same time I used to go to bed back home in America. I made the mistake of napping quite a bit yesterday, so I didn't sleep well last night. Now that I am fully rested, hopefully adjusting to this strange schedule will only get easier.
A note on food: I thought I was going to be losing weight while away given the new cuisine, but it turns out that I'll most definitely be gaining some. I've been eating cheese, cheese, cheese, strange meats, cheese, cheese, and did I say cheese? :) Everything is so delicious!
At our meeting yesterday, we got our mobile phones and Georgian language dictionaries. Because our phones are corporate lines, we can call any other teacher or our TLG staff members for free - which will be convenient once we're living with our host families and want to call up any of our new friends for weekend excursions. Today we're going to what our TLG staff members call "Georgian Walmart" to pick up any essentials we might need or forgot to pack. I'm excited about this because I need to purchase a blowdryer AND straightener (since mine blew up in the hotel room...whoops!)
I would attach a photo, but I haven't taken a single picture since I've gotten here. I better get on that! It's hard to get motivated to even leave the hotel because it's 97+ degrees out there, and MUCH too hot for me! It's supposed to cool down mid-September, and until then I'll daydream of hats, gloves, and snow. I'm so over you, summer!
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