Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Day in the Life (of PST)

Yesterday marked two months to the day since I left Denver, and also brought to a close the eighth week of Pre-Service Training (PST).  Incredibly, in less than two weeks I’ll be sworn in as a full Peace Corps Volunteer, and depart the comfortable routine of my summer in Bardar for a new set of challenges.  Which leads me to notice, most readers have very little idea of just what that summer routine has entailed, instead being lost in an eclectic assortment of anecdotes!

So, what has Zach been doing in Moldova this whole summer exactly?  Mostly learning.  For the past two months, my week has more or less been fixed to the following schedule:

  • Get up, go to 4.5 hours of language class.
  • Eat lunch for an hour (bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese or salami).
  • Go to 3 hours of “tech” training on the Health Education Program.
  • Go home.  Be exhausted.  Butcher Romanian for my host family.
  • Do homework.
  • Eat dinner.  More butchering Romanian over glasses of house wine.  Occasionally watch the news (way over my head) or Bollywood films (dubbed into Russian) with Georghe (host-dad).
  • Read/write for an hour or so.
  • Collapse into bed, tired but satisfied.

Tuesday: repeat.
Wednesday: repeat again.
Thursday: Go to Ialoveni for “hub site” days with all PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees).  Basically, a day of admin sessions.
Friday: Repeast Monday’s schedule.
Saturday: Repeat again, except no tech, so we’re free for the afternoon.
Sunday: Exhaustion, homework, or mischief.  Often all 3.

This schedule has been interspersed with special trips, sometimes cultural, sometimes personal, sometimes PC related (like the visit to my future site a few weeks ago).  Sundays in particular have been a constant source of amusement and cultural integration, including some of my favorite days like birthday parties or helping in the fields.

The structure doesn’t leave much free time, and many volunteers find PST to be one of the most trying times in their service.  In combination with the presence of other Americans in my training class, however, it has provided a comforting cocoon of structure for the initial adjustment period.  After 7.5 weeks, I was able to achieve the required “Intermediate-mid” level in Romanian (a big relief as this is the level trainees are required to reach before swearing in).  Perhaps more importantly, I’ve formed a number of close friendships with my fellow trainees – the friendships I’ll need to make it through the next two years.

Please note, the past week (week 8), has not been fixed to the normal schedule, but rather to a pressure cooker the culmination of our training program: practice school.  But that’s a topic for a future post.

See the post below for the picture tour of “A Day in the Life (of PST).”

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