According to Georgian tradition, the women from the program was nearly an hour late picking me up from my old host family to deliver me to my new. We then crammed into a car with six of her friends and drove clear across town to blocks of stark, grey, dreary apartment buildings. This was not nearly as demoralizing as it could have been because I understand that nothing in Georgia is what it appears on the outside. It is quite typical for the apartment building itself to not be well maintained, but the individual apartments are under the care of the owner and thus usually much nicer.
Entering the building we crammed my one oversized suitcase, my carry on suitcase, my backpack and four adults into the elevator smaller than most closets. Let us say that I do not trust this elevator. It is coin operated and makes the most frightening noises.
On the eighth level we came to a shuddering stop and the doors grudgingly creaked open onto a dark hallway. A shaft of light from an open door welcomed me to my new home. Here I met my new host mother, Ea, my host father, Khvecha, my university-aged host sister Mari, and Nino, the 6 or 7 year old.
Both host parents work in some capacity for the Police, Mari did not initially pass entrance exams to university and spends all day studying and going to tutoring lessons. Nino goes to second grade at school #41, which I refused to switch to. The host family did not realize that I had already been in Georgia for a month and in Kutaisi for nearly three weeks. They also were very disappointed to hear that I was only going to be staying with them until December.
As suspected, the apartment’s interior is very well maintained and luxurious in comparison to what I had become used to at my first home. My room is small, but that is not what discomforts me. What intrigues me most is that my room was once clearly a part of the kitchen. It fact I believe it usually is and was converted for my use. The biggest hint that leads me to believe this is that one wall is entirely composed of doors leading into the kitchen. These doors happen to be half glass. Luckily the glass is frosted and slightly tinted, but not really enough to be considered a wall rather than a window. My biggest concern is that my bed is flush with these doors and if I flop about in my sleep too much, some night I might crash right into the kitchen.
Another issue with this “wall”, as well as the main door to my room being half glass as well, is the amount of light pollution. As I experienced during my first night, any light in any part of the apartment will find its way into my room. This will be an issue because my host father works odd hours and tends to, like any normal person, be hungry after work and wish to eat. It will take some adjustment and I sleep mask, thank you Turkish airlines for providing one during my flight, to conquer this.
Other than the physical discomfort of light at night, my host mother is a “feeder”. We have all experienced one of these somewhere, sometime in our lives and dealt with them, but she is an extreme I have never seen. She has told me “You can’t eat too little, you must eat a lot” and she has asked me specifics as to how many pieces of fried fish, bread, cheese and slices of tomatoes I have eaten. She opens two ice-cream cones and sets them in front of me to melt if I do not eat them both. I am really going to have to stand my ground when I am full. Or I need to run up and down the stairs three times a day everyday. And find a gym.
Happily, despite being in an apartment building on the eighth floor, and in an interior room, I can still hear the roosters cock-a-doodle-do at the ass-crack of dawn, if not earlier. At my first host family the yard outside my window was full of roosters and I became accustomed to their particular morning rituals. I am only human and readjusting is very tiring, so I have to pay attention to the little consistencies in life and rejoice in them.