Friday, August 3, 2012

A Week in the Life

I can’t remember for sure, but I have a strong feeling that I’ve never written a “day in the life” blog before. Even if I have, it was probably early on in my time here and my life has changed significantly since then (meaning it has settled down and become familiar – it’s not all new and shiny anymore). For those of you dying to know (which I know all of you are), this is what my average week looks like in Samoa. (I would give you a day in my life, but my daily life is pretty similar, the week is a more interesting view).

Monday through Thursday, my schedule is pretty much predictable. (I’m not sure if the week in Samoa starts on Monday or Sunday. I’ve asked a million times, and although sometimes people tell me it starts on Sunday – translation of meaning, not direct word-to-word translation, is always iffy – it seems to start on a Monday. So we’ll go with that.) My alarm goes off at 6 in the morning. I make my bed, brush my teeth, wash my face, sit on my porch to eat a Weetbix and drink milk straight from the carton, get ready for school and go. These days I always put effort into doing my hair. For the first year, I just threw it into a bun and left, but eventually I started to feel frumpy and wanted to feel pretty again. So I do my hair. And since I started doing my hair (usually some fancy braid, or part braid party pony tail, or whatever I feel like doing), everyone else at school has started doing their hair. Not only the students are copying my hairstyles, but my teachers are too – and elaborating on them. Even in the Middle of Nowhere, South Pacific Ocean, I’ve managed to stay ahead of fashion.

I get to school at 7, spend the next 30 minutes or so making materials or lesson planning (I’m always first and it’s easiest to do things at this time because there is no disruption), then spend the next 30 minutes after that supervising the library. Despite the headache that comes every morning with the chaos of the library, it’s always great because it’s usually the youngest kids reading in the library. I only have scheduled library time for years 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, and it’s great to see years 1, 2, and 3 willingly come into the library, even if they spend most of the time looking at pictures. Then I kick everyone out around 8 so they can go do their duties before the bell rings, I straighten up the library, and get ready for class. I teach two English lessons in the morning, then we have lunch at interval (always provided by some students’ family). After lunch, I bring classes into the library for reading. Since I’d rather not squeeze 20 students into the closet that is the library, I bring them in groups of 4 or 5. They read out loud, get a sticker, then check out a book to take home. In theory, they read the book at home, bring it back the next day, and get a sticker for returning it on time. In practice, the book is usually left in the classroom and returned a few days later. I finish all my library stuff with an hour or less left of the school day, so I usually spend the rest of my time lesson planning, making materials, reading my own book, or sometimes writing letters.

When I get home, I turn on my water (I have a little valve out back that controls the water to my bathroom. Since my shower never turns off, I turn off the pipe in the mornings because it is such a waste to leave it running all day) and throw my school outfit (puletasi) under the shower. This is no-energy laundry. I just let it sit under the drip for a while, don’t usually add soap, and hang it up to dry. In addition to no-energy laundry, I do small loads of low-energy laundry maybe twice a week. Mondays and Thursdays or Tuesdays and Fridays usually. I just throw whatever T-shirts I’ve been cycling through (I give them a good 2 or 3 days’ use before washing them, keeps laundry small) into a bucket with some detergent and let it soak for a few hours. Then, when I hang up my school outfit, I move the bucket under the drip for a few hours to let it rinse.

My afternoons used to be crazy busy, but now it’s calmed down a bit. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I do English tutoring with two girls across the village. I started with half hour sessions each day, which quickly ballooned into hour and a half adventures as they set out to become my best friends. Then it scaled back to an hour or so, and now it’s back down to a half hour. It’s hard to keep an 8-year-old focused on one thing for so long, especially a second language. I prefer the half hour sessions. Then I used to have piano lessons after that, which took another hour and a half out of my afternoon, but they haven’t happened recently. That’s another story. I try to find motivation to run on my off days – Tuesdays and Thursdays – but it doesn’t always happen. Thursday tends to be my “Oh, crap, I’m going into town soon and need to get all this stuff done!” day. So I end up writing blogs, letters, e-mails, and whatever other things I need to accomplish on Thursday afternoons.

Occasionally I’ll have a half hour or so to just sit and read. Long gone are the days when I was so bored because all I had to fill my time with was running and reading. Now I hardly ever use the rain as an excuse not to run because I can always find something else to do, and it takes me a good two weeks to finish a book because I just don’t have unending chunks of time to kill. Then I head out to wherever I have dinner. I have three families in my village, and I try to keep them on a schedule. Pretty much anyone you ask knows where I’m eating that night.

Fridays go two ways. It’s always a half day at school, but I try not to go into town on Friday afternoons unless I’ll be staying in town or need standard business hours (like if I need to go to the bank). The last bus is always awful on Friday. So if I’m going into town, I’ve already packed my bag ahead of time, leave school at interval to go switch my school bag for my town bag, then wait for the bus. If I’m not going into town, I try to get in a long run, then spend the rest of the day relaxing.

Saturdays also go two ways, depending on my Friday plans. If I’m going into town, I get up at 5 because that’s the time the bell goes for Saturday morning church (which starts at 6, and conveniently gives me enough time to get ready to catch the bus into town). If I’m not going into town, I get up at 6 to get in a long run in the morning before the sun comes up to kill. Then I spend the rest of my morning doing big laundry – usually sheets, sometimes towels too. If I’m in town, I usually take my 12:30 bus home, which gets me home around 2-3, then I spend the afternoon de-smogging, (showering, because you get really dirty on the bus and in town), de-cluttering, and reading. If I haven’t gone into town, I’ve probably gone for a walk, read a bit, taken a nap, then read a bit more. Choir usually happens the hour before dinner, then dinner, and bed. Although every week I swear I will make it to Saturday night bingo, it hasn’t happened in a long time because I’m always so exhausted by the time Saturday night gets here that I can’t imagine anything better than sleep.

Sunday I get up at 6:30 (sleeping in is nice) to clean before the sun comes up and before Sunday school invades my fale. I completely remake my bed, sweep my room and bathroom, and give my bathroom a good scrubbing. Then I usually manage to get to tea on the porch just as the bell for Sunday school rings. Then I read a bit while they have their lessons, go to church, and usually have to’ana’i with the Pastor, although occasionally I do get invited over from one of my families. Lately I’ve started going to to’ana’i with the Aualuma (one third of the women’s committee. I regularly attend taule’ale’a meetings, but recently started getting invited to aualuma meetings. Sure, why not?) Then I read a bit, shower, and depending on what’s going on, attend afternoon church or go down to the resort to pick up my pizza. The first Sunday of the month has special performances for afternoon church, so after to’ana’i I go to the choir practice, then perform with the choir at the afternoon service. The resort is my fourth adopted family in the village, although it’s not exactly the same as my other three families because it’s the resort. The couple who owns the resort are super nice and they give me a pizza every week because they want to feed Tali too. I love it. I was starving to death when I first got to Samoa because I’m a snacker, not a meal person, but I will never be in want of a meal here. I have too many families for that to happen.

After church (or the resort or whatever), I lock myself in my room while they have the youth group meeting in my fale. At this time I usually eat my pizza and watch an episode of Survivor South Pacific. I’m way behind on my TV and movies because I just never get around to it. I usually watch one episode of something at a time (maybe 2 if it’s something like Big Bang Theory or Scrubs), and I don’t even watch that much every week.

Not quite as much of a nutshell as I thought it would be, but that’s my standard week. Any questions?

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