There comes a time in life abroad where everything ceases to be new. Instead you find yourself in a routine, the same as you’d develop anywhere. At this point too, all your normal flaws come slipping through the cracks in the door you shut that was supposed to hold your old life and the old you. Almost everyone goes abroad not only to see something new in the world, but also to see it in themselves. So the realization that you’ve fallen into the same routine you had in the U.S. can be a bit of a downer.
One of my poor propensities is to spend too much time focused on the future and not nearly enough in the present. Lately, I’m dashing towards internet every chance I can get, to see what financial aid my graduate schools are offering, or finish my application to the State Department, or write to professors in the hopes of ingratiating myself. My Georgian existence suffers the neglect of my mind’s eye, and has lapsed into a routine that it’s hard to describe in an interesting way. More exciting is perhaps what’s hard to fathom when you first consider living abroad – that after a time it can become quite ordinary – like any other place you’ve lived. In reality your present, regardless of your position, will continue to need attention.
Thus I delight in spring, because it draws one inescapably back towards the beauty at hand. It reminds me that just as with the green grass sprouting everywhere, so have educational activities really begun to take root in the classroom. Our regional volunteer group, the TTA have finally begun work on a district wide English Newspaper. In addition, after school English classes for the teachers have been progressing steadily. My two co-teachers and I have begun to establish a rhythm to our teaching and planning and in general English education is doing just fine here.
I’ve continued to spend time learning Georgian all this time for the same underlying reason, it helps keep one present. Georgian is a language that I may never use again, but that’s not really the point. I live in Georgia now, and I meet friendly people all around that I want to converse with. It’s not about being able to talk to people 20 years from now, but being able to say something worthwhile today.
Yet even as I focus on being here, now, it seems appropriate to celebrate the routine at least a little. That’s what really seeing another country is about – being so comfortable with it that it becomes mundane to you in aspects. Even getting a chance to feel as trapped as they can feel is worthwhile, because it helps destroy patronizing ethnocentric sentiments about “village life”. You get to understand the way regular people feel about the world they live in, and that knowledge is precious and valuable in really seeing the world around you.
So as the Georgian’s would do I raise my figurative glass to the world and say “Gagimarjos” to Georgia, its past, its future, its routine, and most especially its present.