Finally have a chance to post something longer and more interesting about what I did in Frankfurt and what I'm doing here in Dushanbe. I have a few pictures I want to upload, but I think I'm going to do those in seperate posts later on. I still have to figure out an effecient way to get pictures from my phone onto the internet.
I flew Lufthansa from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt, and it was basically a brand new 747. It was a double decker, and everyone had their own TVs. It was a relatively enjoyable flight (as enjoyable as any seven hour flight can be, anyway). Initially I was sitting in an aisle seat, but two small boys were sitting next to me and their father was in the window seat in the row behind me. I thought I'd be the nice guy and offer to switch- turns out his window seat was probably one of the worst seats on the plane! The seat in front of his had a metal box that took up about a third of the foot room underneath the chair. So after I graciously offered to switch with him, I got less-than-normal leg room! What kind of karma is that?!
Our plane arrived about an hour early in Frankfurt. After "freshening" up in the airport, Kathleen (CLI's program director) headed out to explore Frankfurt with me. Luckily, Kathleen spent a few years in Germany and is fluent in German. It was pretty chilly and a bit drizzly at first, and also around 8am. So we went hunting for some food, but only found bakery's open. Eventually it started raining pretty heavily, so we headed to a bakery and had some pretzels and coffee. We sat around until the rain stopped, and headed back out.
After the rain, a ton of people were out in Frankfurt walking around and the weather turned quite nice. We eventually found a traditional German resturant and I had my first locally brewed German beer and some weinershneitzel (spelling?). It was pretty good, and there was some pretty cool architecture (more on that when I can post pictures!)
After that, we went back to the airport and got on our plane to Dushanbe! The airline, Somon Air, is the national airline for Tajikistan. It was almost identical to any American airline except, for the first time I think in my life, the plane wasn't full!
Upon arriving in Dushanbe, we spent about an hour getting through customs and waiting for bags. Afterward, one of the program's contacts in Dushanbe picked us up and drove us to our host families. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I met my host family, but I assumed there would be some relatively significant introduction. I couldn't have been more wrong. We pulled up to a house, Nodir (our driver) said that this was my house, and that was that. I got out of the car. I said hello to a woman, and into her house we went! After exchanging names, she insisted I was tired and should sleep. So, I slept for quite a few hours (I think until about 1pm) and then woke.
Since then, I have met my entire family. The father and mother are fantastic, they are both super nice and willing to explain things I don't undertsand. They are incredibly patient. Almost every other sentence there are words or phrases I am not familiar with.
They have three children, two boys and one girl. The oldest boy is seven and a half, their daughter is six and their youngest son is three and a half. The first day and a half they were really shy and wouldn't really talk to me, but last night they were running around and I played with them for a little while.
I have class every morning from 8:30am to 11:30am. The university is about five blocks away from our house. I met my professor yesterday, and today we had our first class. She was incredible! She is very nice, asked us exactly what we wanted from the class, and exactly how we wanted to go about doing that very thing. I feel as though this class is going to be very worthwhile and helpful for my Persian speaking skills.
As far as getting around Dushanbe, I only rarely have problems in expressing what I need. Sometimes I have difficulty in understanding their responses (due both to dialect differences between Tajik/Persian and their speed!) My roommate (Barrington) and I have explored a fair amount of the area around our house and university. Yesterday morning we visited the bazaar nearby, and it was incredible cool. Tomorrow we are going to try and go to the bazaar to buy things (we both need tshirts).
So far this has been a great experience. I can't believe I've already been here for two and a half days. There is still so much more to do here!
Sorry for the long blog entry- I'll try to be more regular so they're not as long!!