Here’s a look at some of the things I will miss most about living in Azerbaijan
Freshness – Knowing where my food comes from at each and every meal has been one of those small factors I did not appreciate until recently. When I go guesting at someone’s house, invariably everything is a s fresh as can humanly be. The yogurt? That was made yesterday. The chicken? From their yard. The fruit and vegetables? Just step outside and pick them yourself. The bread? The clay oven is in the back! Even in a agricultural state like Maine, renowned for its fresh seafood and produce, you cannot get fresher than Azerbaijan.
Squat Toilets – Yes, the smell is usually unbearable, but the simplicity will surely be missed. Plus, check it out online, squatting is better for you!
Forced Ingenuity – With sporadic internet, limited social resources (malls, concerts, etc.), and practically no money, it can be difficult to come up with things to do in your free time. The internet goes out as you’re about to get online to Skype or answer emails? Think of something else to do, because it’s not coming back anytime soon! When we host other volunteers for the weekend, there’s this unspoken sence of fun that comes from creating something from nothing, from finding the most ingenious ways to enjoy yourself and your company. Cooking pizza with one burner, no oven, and only 5 dollars? No problem! Drinking? How about Sangria made from Russian vodka, Sprite, and some strange wine you found in the basement? Want to play Twister? Buy a couple markers and table mat. 20 minutes and 2 dollars later, you have an official Twister board! Trey and I once made a tee when we first started softball. We used a cardboard box from a care package, duct tape, and PVC piping and brinks we found near the dumpster! It’s projects and activities like these that make you appreciate what you have and help you live in the moment more than I ever appreciated back home.
Bilingual Life – I’ve done it before when I lived in Mexico, but there’s nothing like being able to speak two languages everyday! Switching back and forth, combining two languages into one, and constantly learning new words and phrases…I will miss this a lot.
Teaching – Again, I’ve done it before working at lacrosse and hockey camps, but I cannot express to you enough how much I love being a teacher. I love being a role model and I love trying to inspire. I have had many struggles while living here, working with youth was never one of them. My students were the light at the end of every dark tunnel I passed through and I am so grateful for them.
Being Interesting – I’ll be honest, I love the attention! While here, I’m the expert, I’m the interesting one with stories and knowledge unheard of before my arrival. Returning home will be a little bit of a shock when students I see don’t show me the respect I have come to expect, when people don’t invite me over and feed me just so that they can hear me speak English and ask me questions about life in America.
Lastly, I will miss telling time based off the daily call to prayer. It's a very pleasant way to wake up and a great way to take short breaks throughout the day, a brief moment to take a deep breath and reflect.
Next up: What I Missed!