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Friday, March 5, 2010

No new pictures...the Internet was down when I went to the hotel last night. You'll just have to wait for the next installment!

This week has, admittedly, been a little up and down. Now that I'm settled in and living real life here, the immediate shock and awe of being in Africa has died down somewhat. Instead, some realities of life here have begun to present themselves:

1. Teaching is exhausting. Why have you all failed to tell me this? Leading to reality number 2, which is
2. I want to go out and explore Mzuzu more, but what I really want to do in my free time is sleep.
3. Making friends in a country where you're a total outcast is kind of tough. But I'm working on it.

My Aunt Pat wrote in an email to me just before I left, "just like in real life, there will be some good days there and some bad ones." I like to keep that in mind and remind myself that life can't just be magically perfect now that I'm here.

Regardless, things are good. I just finished my first full week of teaching and it feels really good. We have covered so much in just a week. These kids are constantly thirsty for knowledge...they just want to learn more and more and more and I give it out until I'm spent. But they would be happy as clams to stay in that classroom with me all day. The huge nerd in me is coming out as I begin to teach grammar. And you know what? It's really an amazing feeling when your students show that they've learned what you've taught them. Even the quiet ones will now and then volunteer to write an answer on the board and it's a completely perfect sentence in the present perfect continuous. The silent killers, if you will.

The people here are so wonderful. I can't get over it. Strangers are friendly and acquantances treat you like an old friend. Kondwani, who works in the office, asked me today, "So, what are we doing tonight?" My taxi driver, Thumbiko, and I are buddies now. We talk about random cultural differences. Here it gets dark at six, which I said is strange for me considering the warm weather; he was astounded when I told him it can be light as late as 8:30 in the summertime. He is the driver that Maloto uses and so the office pays him, which is amazing for me, and he literally takes me anywhere I want to go. I feel bad asking, but he always says, "yeah, that's no problem!"

Thumbiko drives some of the kids home, too (because he is just nice), and we all pile up in his car and they ask me all sorts of questions. "Miss Berman, what type of music do you like to listen to?" "Miss Berman, who are the most famous people in the United States?" "Miss Berman, what church do you belong to?" And today Kondwani (another Kondwani, who is my T.A. in the class) asked me, "Miss Berman, you said that you live in New York City?" And I said well yes, I live outside of the city. And he said, "do you go there a lot?" and I said yes, and he said, "Well, I want to ask, have you ever met hip hop musicians like 50 Cent or others of the like?"

Tonight I'm going to that hostel again (the Mzoozoozoo) to schmooze with some mzungus. Then this weekend I'm heading up to the Lake again, this time to Nkhata Bay, which is a little bit closer (where we went was about an hour and 15 minutes, and this place is only 35). I'm taking the minibus there with Vitu (because it is his job to accompany me for Anna's peace of mind) and then staying at the Mayoka Village Lodge. Everyone says that it's a ton of fun and that it's the place to meet fellow mzungu travelers. Vitu's not staying...so I'll just have to be my friendliest self and try to make some new pals. Wish me luck!


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