Monthly Archives: August 2011

National Ethnographic and Nature Museum

I randomly encountered the National Ethnographic and Nature Museum yesterday while wondering around.  The exhibits left a bit to be desired, but the murals did not disappoint.



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I am in an apartment in Chisinau, alive and well, very well. I left Bloomington at 10 AM EST on Thursday, spent 4 days with a friend in Stuttgart and arrived in Chisinau at 6:15 local time this evening, Monday. I flew in to Chisinau today on Air Moldova and must say that my experience with Air Moldova was nothing but absolutely pleasant, superb even. Despite the fact that we were bussed to what must be the very bottom of the Frankfurt airport runway/terminal hierarchy (literally miles away from the main terminal, so far that I thought we were going to Frankfurt Hahn), we left on time and everything was seamless. The food was, well simply put the best food I have ever had on an airplane and would rival several restaurant meals I’ve had and enjoyed without complaint.  The picture is below but essentially we were served: chicken w/ a tomato sauce, squash, potatoes, a vinegar based salad, a delicious cake, tea and an extremely tasty chocolate. Everything was cooked perfectly,wonderfully seasoned and tasted extremely fresh. It’s a far cry from the re-hydrated, seemingly nuclear and synthetic proteins and carbohydrates I’ve ever been served on U.S. airlines. Plus, red wine, gratis and good, very good. Aside from the meal, the majority of the two-hour flight was spent listening to the flight attendants give message after message in three language, Russian, Moldovan/Romanian and English.

In other news, I managed to navigate: my flight (including selecting chicken for my meal), passport control, getting a ride from the airport and checking into and paying for my apartment without speaking or listening to a word of English. I suppose that’s something to build on.  I did have one slight hiccup though.  I made the mistake of telling the passport control agent that I was staying for a year.  U.S. citizens are allowed to stay in Moldova for 90 days without a visa, but not one year.  I tried explaining that I would be receiving a legitimate from the government before my 90 days was up but he didn’t seem to know what that was or care. He asked for more ID.  Again I told him that the US embassy would be working with the Moldovan government and giving me a legitimate which allows me to stay for a year. Again he said “what?” but then he shrugged his shoulders, gave me my passport and said welcome to Moldova. Nice, I think…..

After I checked into my apartment and came to terms with the security system I went to the kiosk for sustenance and libations, took a shower, changed out of my sticky and stinky airline clothes into a T-shirt, my Fulbright T-shirt (sheesh, forgive me, it was just a coincidence. It happened to be clean). Tomorrow I will explore Chisinau and try to learn how to function in Moldova, but for now, I’m going to enjoy my Chisinau Blonda, mystery pastries and my satellite T.V. currently showing video of Gagauz folk dances. I should add that Lady Gaga was just on this same channel 15 minutes ago, dubbed in Russian with Romanian subtitles.

P.S. Check out the Photo of the Day for the view from my apartment.


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Steppin’ Out (The Joe Jackson Reference is for you Nay Nay)

The fact that one can boil one’s life down to one suitcase, one carry on and on messenger bag is emotionally cleansing. Truthfully, I could make do with much less. A year is a both an extremely short time and a very long time. With that being said, the amount of preparation I’ve put in over the last two weeks for this upcoming year seems a bit disproportionate and extreme, but perhaps that’s just the way I prepare for things. Fine, that’s just my propensity to be too prepared and my embarrassing love of making lists and organizing things. Photocopies, 3 x 5 cm non-glossy photos, 365 days worth of over the counter medicines, data back-ups, laundry, optometry appointments and magnets, lots of magnets. Here’s my one piece of unsolicited advice for someone preparing for something like this. Do not schedule your eye exam two days before you leave. In terms of productivity, yesterday was almost entirely a loss.  Having my pupils dilated and bright lights shone into every recess of my burning, searing eyes screaming out for relief them by not only the optometrist but the 2nd year optometry student (teaching clinic) left me feeling like a vampire.  Cold dark spaces, cold dark spaces.

Tomorrow morning I’m flying to Stuttgart where I will stay until Monday. Monday morning, overland to Frankfurt and then a flight  to Chisinau where I will stay for 4 days.  I won’t be in Gagauzia until September 2nd. I have a place to stay, a non-profit interested in working with me, a lead on a Russian teacher and some ideas. I’ll let you know what I find.

Also, I’m planning on posting one photo a day, every day while I’m in Gagauzia. I’m not going to lie to myself, the odds of me being able to pull it off every single day seem a bit questionable. Surely extenuating circumstances will present themselves. I will do everything I can to remain faithful to the spirit of this project but in case I miss a day, forgive me, I’ll post two. I hope to start when I arrive in Chisinau on Monday. You can access the photo of the day on the front page of the blog on the left or by clicking on “photo of the day” on the header.

Here’s a link to Joe Jackson’s 1982 classic Steppin’ Out. Why? Only because I’ve been listening to it on repeat while typing this.  Why? That’s the real question.


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News from Gagauzia

It’s a rare occasion when news from Gagauzia makes its way to an English language media outlet, but today is such an occasion. Radio Free Europe isn’t exactly the New York Times and barring any unexpected escalations, I don’t think this story will be finding its way to the pages of the Gray Lady anytime soon. Still though, a quick search for “Gagauz” and “Gagauzia” on the website of Radio Free Europe shows that the last time anything pertaining to Gagauzia or the Gagauz was published was in December, 2009. My point? Banner day in the history of news from Gagauzia.I guess you could say that by Gagauz standards, this story “has legs.”

To boil it down as precisely as possible, 10 percent of recent Gagauz high school graduates were not able to pass an exam in the official state language of Moldova, Moldovan. As you might imagine, this has brought many of the important and touchy issues surrounding Gagauz identity and political autonomy to the forefront. It is precisely these issues that I plan to study and hope to learn more about during my time in Gagauzia. If you’re interested in learning more about all of the factors involved in this delicate situation , this article is the perfect primer.


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