I think that life, God, fate, whatever you want to call it, gives us only what we can handle. In high school, the most I had to balance was homework, friends, choir, and swimming, and it felt like that was a lot. While in college, I juggled a part-time job at a restaurant and my studies, and felt like that was plenty. Then, after graduating, I managed to hold three different jobs, which kept me on my toes. I thought that my life in Ecuador would be relaxing, that I would learn to live like a Latino and enjoy more leisure time, but it turned out I had gotten involved in a well-intentioned, but under-staffed and unorganized, non-profit that needed a lot of administrative assistance, so I stepped up. Balancing my own teaching there with helping out the organization, trying to improve my Spanish, carefully interacting with my infamous host mother so as to not unintentionally upset her, spending time with friends, and traveling around that lovely country took up much more time than I ever imagined it would, and yes, I felt busy. However, nothing can compare to the busyness I have felt in the last ten months of my life. (I say this knowing that some of my friends tackled the first year of teaching while being mothers, wives, and even taking Master’s level classes. I honestly don’t know how they do it!) After a year like the one I’ve had, I am appreciative of summer break.
It certainly has been a while. My first year of teaching just ended and summer is still so green and fresh that I’m still having a hard time adjusting its relaxed change of pace. It feels so good to not be constantly thinking about planning/ grading and finally be getting to the tasks that, for so long, were pushed to the back burner. One of those “round-to-it”s was writing back to a friend of mine who is going to be volunteering for six weeks as an English teacher in Thailand. She was asking me for advice on how she could prepare for her adventure, especially in regards to the teaching. Today, I was finally able to give her a sufficient response, and I figured I’d share it here, in case any readers were considering or planning similar trips and found the advice helpful.
I called my Gramma on Christmas day, from my parents’ pleasantly warm fireplace-heated living room. We talked about how things were going, said our holiday greetings, then she said “We still have that book of blog posts that Judy adds to. You don’t write in it often anymore though. Why don’t you try to just write once a month? That could work, right?”
As much as I may be too busy for any random reader, or even a friend, I am never too busy for my Gramma. So you can thank her for this post. InshAllah (God willing), I will keep posting, at minimal, monthly. I am grateful that the reason I have been posting less is that I feel really at home here and have found… friends! That and teaching is anything but boring, and means that I have a never-ending to-do list. I have officially signed on for a second year at my school, so I should have an easier second year (though we are switching text books, so my plans won’t be completely the same). Point is that I like Kuwait and, especially, my school enough to return to it another year.
Last night, at around 10 pm, I had the weirdest urge to go running.
I know what you’re thinking: That can’t be safe, Tricia!
But, as difficult as it may be to believe, Salmiya is the first place I’ve ever lived in where I’ve felt safe running after dark, especially on a Friday night. Kuwait may not have much of a conventional night life, seeing as clubs are illegal and drinking is banned, but Kuwaitis are still night owls. Shops and eateries, small and big, are mostly open until midnight (or all night), streets are well-lit, and the people here are happy to shop and eat until early in the morning. Whereas in Topeka, when the clock strikes midnight, you generally only find people out drinking, and there isn’t a huge crowd of fun-loving twenty-somethings (haha… looking back on my Topeka bar experiences, a more apt generalization would be approaching middle-age, should-be-spending-their-disability/unemployment-checks-on-something-more-useful, sound-a-little-too-rehearsed-in-their-off-key-karaoke-hits, leather-jacket-clad, as they say in Almost Famous, real Topeka people).
The past couple of weeks have changed things for me here in Kuwait. The focus of this blog is more about my travels than it is about me and I don’t like to write about anything too personal, especially when it may affect others, but I’m going to come out with it and say that Jeremiah and I decided to break up. (I apologize for that run-on sentence). We had been together for a year and a half, which was an amazing feat since we were together in person for less than a third of that time! I don’t know any other guys who would have worked as hard as he did to maintain a relationship under those circumstances. We were friends for years before we started dating, he was my best friend when we were dating, and we’re still good friends. I’ve spoken with him a few times since the break-up, and it’s been wonderful to be able to be honest about how we’re dealing with it.
I tried writing this as a snappy facebook status, but it ended up being too much to fit into a reasonably-sized status.
Today, the school nurse was giving all 5th graders their Diphtheria Tetanus Toxoid vaccines. The girls had been given consent forms for their parents to sign on Sunday. We had prepared for it and they had bombarded me with questions about it, for a week. Even this morning when I had before-school duty, 5th graders swarmed me and asked me last-minute questions about the dreaded shot that included (I kid you not) “Is it true that people are sick for 10-14 days after getting the injection?” and “Will there be fire coming out of the needle?” I know you’re not supposed to laugh at kids’ questions to their face, but, hahahahah, I did.
Well it sure has been a while! School began September 6th, and life has been moving at a neck-breaking pace ever since.
There’s so much I’d like to say about the weather, the culture, the food, the people, the teaching, the parents, my students, the school, but it’s 10:30 on a Thursday (the Middle-eastern Friday) night and I’m too tired to go into all that. I just wanted to touch base and say that I’m still here, doing relatively well.