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Long Time, No See

Sorry for the hiatus

sunny 84 °F


So it’s been awhile, I realize I have been seriously neglecting my blog followers and I apologize profusely. Things have been crazy over here in the Pacific and I have gotten a bit carried away in my own life. Now I am going to attempt to squeeze in everything that has been going on in my life over the past few weeks.

1. I got a cat :D My room mate Joann and I have been discussing our desire to gain a furry friend, both for companionship and to intimidate the bugs and potential vermin looking to move in with us. Well, a miracle happened a few weeks ago when I was having lunch at Tide Table (a favorite rebelle restaurant on the island). I met a woman named Lori who told me that she was the President of the organization for animal welfare in the Marshall Islands and that if I had any friends interested in giving a cat a home, to let her know. In about 3 seconds I confirmed with Joann that she was on board, and ran to tell Lori that we were interested. Within the next hour I had been put in contact with a gentleman named Andy who was moving back to Taiwan and wouldn’t be able to bring his beloved cat along with him. Joann and I picked the name “Charlie Darwin” because its survival of the fittest out here with animals…plus Charlie is a cute name to say on a regular basis. The only major downside is that now I have the horrible song “Cheer Up Charlie” from the old school Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in my head all the time….(there it is again. Damn.) Charlie is amazing. He is sweet, affectionate, healthy, litter trained and over all the best free cat I have ever gotten overseas. I’m not sure what’s going to happen when my year is up, it seems like bringing him across the world would be very expensive on my non-existent budget…but for now at least he is loved and has a safe home. Animals are treated really poorly here and I would be heartbroken to subject any animal to that life if I could help it for anytime at all.Summary: Charlie is the bomb and I love him.
2. I got a ukulele! I have been hemming and hawing over the possibility of getting a ukulele for the past few weeks and one day I walked into E-Z Price and saw that they were on sale! I found a beautiful one that I immediately fell in love with on sale for $40 and decided to take the plunge. Although I am a poor volunteer, I am happy I spent my money on this instrument because it has already proven to be worth its price in terms of sanity. There really isn’t much to do in the Marshall Islands…. Everyone I meet (both foreigners and locals) pretty emphasize how little there is to do here and I am starting to realize how true that is. (That’s probably why the men sit outside and cat call 24/7, they literally have nothing better to do). Getting this ukulele has given me a fun activity to do and goal to work towards. It’s harder than I expected, I am definitely giving my guitar playing friends more credit than I used to. Regardless, I am loving it. I am still not very good, but I have figured out how to play “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz and “Almost Lover” by a Fine Frenzy by heart (they are the exact same chord progression, don’t be too impressed). The other day I learned “Prettiest Tree on the Mountain” by Ben Sollee and “Down on the Corner.” Hopefully, by the time I am back in America I will be a ukulele extraordinaire and will be ready to perform at birthday parties and weddings alike (at a cost of course… did I mention I’m a volunteer)

3. Erin and I met a very interesting person that I am calling “weekend friend Paul” because his name is Paul and we were only friends for a weekend. He approached Erin and I while we were swimming last weekend at the Marshall Islands Resort and we began chatting about our lives. He is currently coming to the end of his journey around the world. He got his MBA from Harvard a few year ago, worked for two years saving up money, quit his job and is now traveling the world writing a blog, specifically about different countries that he feels that American opinion doesn’t necessarily match the reality in that country. He’s been to Pakistan, India, Iran, basically all of Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific. He was a very fascinating man to talk to and I really enjoyed our two days of friendship. Talking to him made me feel extra self-conscious about not having my life completely figured out…granted he’s almost 30, I’m really not that much of a screw up… but never the less I started avidly researching grad schools the past few weeks. I’m having a hard time making concrete decisions here because on one hand I feel drawn to social work, which is what I planned on applying for, but on the other hand, living without the means to buy basic groceries that I want has made me hyper aware that I am not anxious to live close to the poverty line ever again. My solution has been that I have decided to apply for programs that only offer a double degree in Masters of Social Work and a Masters in Public Health. My thought behind this is that I can make myself more marketable, give myself more options and continue to work in a field that I believe is important. At the moment I am looking at schools in Colorado, Oregon, Albany, Michigan, Ohio and NYC, I was also considering Northern California but after being this far away from my friends and family I’m not sure I want to be settled so far away for more than a year. We’ll see what come of this. Being a teacher is unbelievably busy and applying for grad school is also quite time consuming. Hopefully I find a way to balance the two tasks with grace.

4. On a sad note, we had to move back to the dorms from hell last week. The Ministry of Education convinced the maintenance people to finally fix the plumbing problem. As soon as the pipes were replaced the MOE packed us up and moved us back in order to avoid paying extra money in apartment costs. I was concerned that my air conditioner was going to be broken still (because mine was the only one that didn’t get fixed). After I reminded my field director about my AC situation the maintenance people hurried to fix the problem, however my unit started leaking obscene amounts of water all over the place whenever it was turned on. So my floor was covered in water yet again and again I was feeling grouchy and gross. I reminded my field director about my hardship and it got fixed in the next few days. However, I did receive a well-deserved email reminding me to not take my Majuro luxuries for granted and complain so much. It’s easy for me to see everything I take for granted in America, but I have been losing sight of the things I take for granted just being on Majuro compared to the outer islands. The fact that I have any AC unit, or refrigerator or ice in my water or toilets connected to real plumbing is more than a lot of my fellow volunteers have and I need to continue to remind myself of that before I start whining. Joann and I have started saying “Majuro Problems” whenever we are about to complain about something ridiculous. Similar to “First World Problems,” but with a twist. Turns out you can still end up being a spoiled brat even when you’re showers entail pouring a bucket of cold water on your head.

5. On a positive note, I went to an island this weekend with my world teach friends Joann, Erin, Aras, Bobby and Andy. This island is pretty close to the main island, but still requires a boat to get there and is much more isolated and beautiful than Majuro is. We swam all day and explored the island, climbing coconut trees along the way for snacks and collecting shells. We grilled chicken and ate peanuts and reapplied sun screen like 500 times (it didn’t matter, we still got burned). We read our books quietly and just enjoyed being in such a beautiful place with beautiful people. We stayed over night and planned to have the boat come pick us up at 10:00 am the next morning. Once it got dark we swam out the floating dock and laid down to stare at the stars and talk about everything and anything. The water was filled with these small invisible specs of bugs or something that lit up when you touched them, so while you swam, little lights were popping up all around you. It was magical; I have never felt like a fairy princess more in my life. The starts were amazing, so clear and bright. The Milky Way was picture perfect. For a space nerd like me it was incredible. Eventually, we heard the rain approaching quickly and got to swim around in a rain storm, enjoying the bright lights popping up all around us and enjoying the blissful joy of that evening. In college I learned to love the rain because playing in a rain storm with your friends provides more entertainment than anything money could buy, and that principle holds true in the Marshall Islands. Eventually we got sick of the rain and swam back to our little shelter. Bobby and Aras were smart and brought hammocks that they hung up to sleep in (if anyone finds a cheap fold up hammock I would be happy to take it off your hands), while the rest of us laid down on the picnic tables to try and catch some shut eye. I had a bit of low moment to say the least. I forgot my medicine, which I have done every so often in the past without repercussion, but I guess my body couldn’t handle all the changed going on in my system and I ended up having a seizure around 1:00am. Joann heard me making some scary sounds and woke up around the tail end of my convulsions. She woke up the others and they were great friends. I haven’t had a seizure since I was a senior in high school so when I finally woke up I was pretty confused, but as they explained I quickly realized what was going on. The next few hours were pretty awful (as per usual) and my heart rate was racing up and down and my muscles kept tensing suddenly, making me anxious that it was going to happen again. Usually the 3 or 4 hours following a seizure is the most unpleasant part for me. Unfortunately, we were kind of stuck on this island. If something really serious had happened we could have called my field director and he could have jumped through some hoops to get a boat out to us but I knew I would be fine (and I was). I’m pretty sure I bit my tongue pretty hard though because it is killing me today and has a pretty nasty gash on the bottom of it. Alas, epilepsy problems. Needless to say, I plan on being overly cautious about remembering my medicine at all times (especially on an isolated island). I was woken up in the morning by the wild pigs and chickens roaming around the island and knew all was back to normal. (Side note: there are a remarkable number of pigs and chickens just randomly roaming around these islands, many more than I ever expected to be here)

6. Finally, the first quarter of the school year is coming to a close this week. Finals start tomorrow and conclude on Friday. I have almost survived the first 1/4th of being a real teacher and none of my students have died or cried in my class yet. So I’m considering it a success. The amount of time I have to devote to grading every day is absurd and I seriously appreciate every single teacher I have ever had more words can possibly express. I’m also the leader of the debate team, because I’m “an American and American’s like to argue.” Even though I don’t feel qualified what-so-ever for this job, I’m pretty excited about it. I’m planning on eventually building up to controversial topics like gay marriage and the separation of church and state….but for now we are starting small with “should homework be banned from schools,” more to come on how that goes. I’m feeling optimistic that I only have 3/4th to go, hopefully if I get into a solid routine time will move even faster. I’m enjoying my time here, but also am anxious to see my friends and family back home (and taste greek yogurt and fresh salad). I anticipate that by the time I leave here I will find it hard to adjust to the culture shock in America. Already I know that I am going to hate how attached everyone is to their smart phones and social media. I have really enjoyed severing ties with my iphone and not having to feel like I have to constantly be checking something to see if I matter to someone. Also, the constant consumerism being shoved in your face is something I really don’t miss and imagine will be overwhelming when I am surrounded by it again. I also am guessing that I am going to get more and more comfortable with the slow moving lifestyle here and will probably find the fast paced nature of American culture to be somewhat overwhelming. However, we shall see if these predictions hold true in the next 9 months.

On a frustrated note, the school has banned facebook except from the hours of 7:00-8:00, which is completely pointless if I am try to contact anyone on the Eastern Time Zone. Additionally, the wifi that I would normally use (also through the school) hasn’t been working for the past few days so it looks like my communication with the outside world is going to be at a low for a little while. Wa, wa, wa, Majuro problems.
That seems to cover all the essentials at the moment. I hope you are all having great success in wherever your lives have brought you. Stay tuned for more Marshall Islands updates, hopefully the next one won’t take me so long to accomplish!

Posted by gabbyfo 00:15 Archived in Marshall Islands

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