I have been working with my 10s and 11s trying to teach what compare and contrast is. All week I have been thinking about it. Since we have moved here we have been trying very had not to compare and contrast, but it is inevitable. It is natural to do so. So I am trying to categorize a few parts of our lives here with things we are used to in the states.
Our apartments, even the nice ones were particle board or plywood and stucco. We could hear everything above, below and beside our apartment. Here, since lumber is harder to come by, more expensive and concrete or stone is readily abundant, it is less expensive and common to build with stone. I have only once or twice heard kids running in the bathroom, probably because there is piping and more empty space between the floors in the bathrooms. There is no carpet. Carpet is a luxury and only in some rooms. I hate carpeting, now with nathan dropping bottles, cookies, and crawling with dirty hands. Also, carpeting is impossible to maintain with a cat. We have a large livingroom rug which nathan plays on and is easily cleanable. There is less dust and mildew with tile and wood floors. This is the nicest apartment we have lived in so far.
Sor far, comparing the summer heats, here is it very dry. Thankfully! Because I hate humidity. It was hot, sure, but not sweltering like Florida. I am anxious to experience a real winter. I understand it will be unbearably cold, but then again, that is all so subjective.
People and Culture:
I have yet to come across a rude person. The shadiest-looking creepy guys sitting behind buildings, cab drivers, construction workers, and even Armenian Hip-Hop "gangstas" have been remarkably accommodating, friendly to Nathan, eager to help with directions, and refused tips. Everyone loves babies here! The burliest-looking dude will even talk baby-talk to Nathan and smile as we pass. I am kind of relieved to escape the american hip-hop gangsta culture that is so sickeningly macho, vulger, and sometimes downright scary. The hip-hop here is, I hear, more tame than Will Smith. Armenians are very proud people. They are proud of their heritage and the few things that are known to be Armenian. I tried my hardest to be objective while tasting the majical fruits and vegetables which they say here taste vastly different and more flavorful than anywhere else. The bread is amazing. Only because they dont have all the fillers that commercial breads to like dough conditioners, sulfites, preservatives and milk derivatives...etc. They use water flour salt and yeast. It is amazing how different breads can taste based only on the proportions and texture. Fruits and vegetables, yes they taste different, not better, justy more bold. For some foods, this is better. I tasted a tomato and i thought it was seasoned. It was a fresh tomato and it was far more bold than the blander waterier tomatos that I have tasted in the states. I hate an entire tomato and a half plain. Onions are far more bold. I have to wear my swimming goggles to cut them. I was fine in the states, I could cut an onion or two for a salsa and be fine. Here, a single onion, immediately after cutting into it, it burns and smells so strong of onion. Use less onion!
Fruits don't seem to be that different with the exception of grapes. No grape comes seedless. Seedless grapes are not natural. The green and red and dark purple grapes are amazing! I need to learn what kinds of grapes these are. They are very small round black grapes with a very colorful palate.
I do miss a few food items which we just haven't spent much time looking for like tofu, coconut milk, and a few cheeses that go better in a sandwitch than the farmers cheese they have here. There are two main types of cheese here which unless you are in an imports store, are the only two. A goat's milk cheese and a a cow's milk cheese that is very salty and smells and tastes like the barn it came from with the texture of a low moisture mozzerella. It is good if chopped very small and stir fried with oils and veggies on a high heat. I can not tolerate it in the fresh wraps armenians eat daily with tomato and cucumber in lavash.
Ararat cognac is as good as it its reputation. Very good!
Kids love to learn. The success orientations are so successful in guiding kids to think about others kindly and care about the environment. I have 9 students and every one of the kids is excited about doing the next thing. Not a single behavior problem has occurred with any student in the entire school. I had trouble with kids on the first day last year. I have freedom to design my class structure the way it works for me and my class. I love it!
Accessibility of things:
We walk to the metro and along the way are open air markets and stores with household items, hardware, food, snacks, baby items, and produce. What we cant find there, we continue to go to the metro where underground is a large circle linking all the corners of the large intersection above together where there is an entire mall which has stores for clothes, shoes, suits and ties, coffee, household items, electronics, salons, cd stores, and toys. Central Yerevan has nearly every department store we wish to go into. There is Chicco name brand toys and name brand kid clothes, Fila and Addidas, Apple Center, AG Electronics, and The Music Store with Yamaha instruments. If we decide to stay long, I will have to order a drum set through Yamaha. Not bad!
I plan to have a computer at home by the beginning of December. I am planning on taking care of some other finances first and then after the end of November, we will have internet set up at home where we can more regularly keep in touch with you all.
I have tons of video which needs uploading but I need to find a program which converts my camera data into mp4 and the time to edit it. coming soon!