10 September 2008

Compare and Contrast 2

I realized when I went home last night that most of my comparisons were putting more light on Armenia than it deserves. Surely there are aspects of Yerevan that are far inferior to the stanbdards we are used to in the states.

Infrastructure:
We walk everywhere including down the street to the markets. We may look like tourists when I wear my kiking boots, but that is because I dont want to fall on my face on the very rocky, uneven potholed road. Angela somehow gets away with wearing flip flops but It is really a hike with the steep hills. I do miss regularly re-paved roads and sidewalks.
Downtown is a little more maintained. We have had almost no trouble walking on the extra large sidewalks downtown.

Traffic:
I dont see how it is any crazier than NYC or Washington DC. I dont think there are J-Walking laws. What makes it crazier here I think is that since there are pot holes, it is expected that on-coming traffice will swurve into the opposite lane shifting traffic over and around the hole. But since everyone expects it and plans for it, it doesnt cause problems. I would say people here are not more careless. the contrary, people here are more careful and pay more attention because they may never know when other cars may swurve, pedestrians may cross, stand in the middle of the road. People in the states seem to pay much less attention probably because they expect everyone else to obey the heavily enforced traffice laws. Its funny actually. Fewer things are enforced, but somehow people here get along with society and others nicer. Butsince I am still used to the traffic and behaviors of the states, I do miss enforced traffic laws and maintained roads and sidewalks.

Cost of things:
It is hard to find the trend of which items are more expensive and which are less. Definitely produce is much less expensive, but only produce that is grown here, and especially the produce grown on the roof of the apartment building next door to the markets. Imported produce like kiwi, mango and bananas are outrageously expensive. Bread costs 25 cents for a large loaf, and juice is the same, even if it contains imported fruits. Restaurant prices are slightly less. For dinner at Karma, I spent 8,000 AMD. That is about $25. That is the same as Udipi on Dale Mabry and Trang.
The cafes for lunch will cost about 5,000 AMD for a full heavy meal.
People we spoke to about baby and kid things said first, hey were not accessible here and the quality is poor. I dont know if they never walked around the city before, because we have found osh-kosh quality clothes, Chicco toys, hand-made toys which will last forever, and imported items like strollers, which do actually cost 2 or 3 times more. I am satisfied with what we can get here. I think any limitations on items we want or think we need will just control our consumption. We are very pleased with that. Angela loves having multiple selections for products, but here I am am happy that she is forced to be a little more decisive.

Language:
Obviously, language barriers are tough to overcome, and that is certainly something easily taken for granted in the states. My Spanish doesnt help me very much! We would like to make this whole experience worth the time by learning the langauge and being able to use it. Some co-teachers here are our age and have moved from the states to work with the peace corp and they ended up marrying armenian ladies and they live here permenantly. They have been here only a few years and are very well versed in Russian and Armenian. It was most interesting hearing everyone's story that led them here. Everyone had different push/pull factors. We dont feel out of place at all here for ours.

School:
While the educational experience is far superior for the kids here, and the experience for the teachers is much mroe desirable here, the facility is attached to a window/furniture factory and needs much rennovation. We are limited in supplies and I do not have an LCD projector which I was spoiled with my first year.
This year however, a new school is being built down the street. It will be entirely new contruction, with proper yard and its own property. I hope more technology will be used. I do not like chalk boards. I am lucky that I have one of the few white boards in my room.
I havent had problems yet, but parents are politicians and powerful people in society in Yerevan. I hope I do not have parents coming trying to pull strings. So far, the parents are great!

Maybe Ill have another contrast come January when I am colder than I expected. Who knows!

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