Disclaimers are God's gift for flaws in human perspective. As this blog is entirely my perspective on my surroundings, it is neither an unbiased nor entirely accurate representation of my surroundings. Also, this blog is in no way representative of the perspective of the American government and, more specifically, the Peace Corps.

ma cheama Rachel? cum te cheama?

I am finishing my first of the 10 weeks of PST or Pre-service training. Me and my forty “colegii” spend 4 hours in the morning on language and 4 hours in the afternoon mostly learning about Romania and the Peace Corps.

Most of my time is spent repeating, mauling and otherwise becoming acquainted with the language.Language learning has taken on a survival aspect as an action as simple as buying a bus ticket requires me to speak. Right now I am doing that with what little Romanian I have acquired and embarrassing hand motions. I only knew the verb for “to be” until yesterday and it is exciting to finally do something in Romanian instead of simply being. I can now open and close, go and come, and even speak!

My Romanian teacher does not speak English in class so when new vocabulary is introduced, we play charades until someone guesses the correct word in English. I am surprised at how much I understand and can haltingly say after just one week. While my vocabulary is limited I will spend a lot of time perfecting hand motions.

One afternoon we observed three different English classes at the local middle school. One of the classes was taught by a Romanian volunteer and the other two were taught by Romanians. In a beginner English class taught by a Romanian teacher, the students were learning about was, has and had. The word "oasis" was in one of the sentences they had for homework. The teacher asked," what is oasis."

a brave student raises his hand, "a drink?"

Another student adds, "a club?"

The teacher responds, "yes, it might be the name of those things, but it is also a band, da?"

And that was the end of the quest for the meaning of the word "oasis."

Life is glorious.



I spent two days in Philadelphia, meeting the forty individuals in my Peace Corps group before we flew from JFK airport at 5:45 on Wednesday afternoon.
After 7 hours of flying to Munich (where Lufthansa provided free coffee, tea and newspapers) and 2 more hours of flying to Bucharest, I finally walked off the plane and effortlessly through customs, un-effortlessly collected 85 pounds of luggage and smelled fresh Romanian air.
We took a bus to Ploiesti where I will be staying the first 10 weeks I am here.
A few of us walked around Ploiesti yesterday. So from my vast experience, Romania seems full of bloc houses, construction, men in capris, old women wearing head scarves, wavy sidewalks, fried cheese, fresh tomatoes, pork, rainy afternoons, political campaigning, pda, stray dogs, potted flowers and park benches.
I am satisfied.


so soon

Today is the first day of my last week in America.
I have spent it renewing my driver's license, procuring passport photos, beating a favorite professor at backgammon and eating dinner at Barnett's Dairyette.

I will fly from Springfield, MO to Philadelphia on Monday where I will spend a couple days meeting the other forty volunteers in my group. We will fly together to Romania, with a layover in Munich. After arriving in Bucharest we will take a bus to Ploiesti, where we will spend ten weeks becoming conversational in Romanian, learning to be culturally aware and learning how to actually do what I'm going over there to do: teach English to highschool/middleschoolers.

If you want to, you can feel caring and send me a letter. My address for the first ten weeks will be
Rachel Johnson
Peace Corps/Romania
Str. Negustori, Nr. 16
Sector 2, Bucharest

Wait to send the packages, because this address only receives letters and any packages will be confiscated by behind-the-times Ceausescu agents who will eat all the black licorice you will send my way.

Adios America. Bună Ziua Romania.


1 blog created

I have lived in Chicago for a little more than 3 months, and I am leaving on the Megabus tomorrow to start the first leg of a trip that will end in Romania.
So here is Chicago, quantitatively speaking:

40(ish) rides on the L,

100 + phone calls answered as a temp receptionist

24 runs past the the line of post office trucks and the car wash on Kedzie Ave.; the Walgreens, the fruit store full of old men, the Serbian restaurant, and the KFC on Irving Park Rd; and the construction site, the cta bus break stop, and Doug's Hotdogs on California St.

1 visit to the zoo

5 roommates

17 books checked out from the Chicago Public Library

1 concert at Schubas Tavern attended

2 embarrassing slip-and-falls on Chicago streets, recovered from

5 dip-dish pizza dinners consumed

30(ish) miles walked

1 sidewalk shoveled multiple times

6 fresh fruit smoothies (with tapioca beads) slurped

2 trips to Madison

11 grocery runs to Trader Joes.

1 blanket crocheted

5 seasons of Scrubs watched

9 friends who visited