Fellows are introducing old and new routines, hobbies and habits in their new environment. Here is what they are up to!
Something Old: Sticking to my Colorado roots I have continued my love for the outdoors and hiking by joining trekking groups in Bangalore. Trekking groups here are fantastic because they arrange the location, transportation, and food for the day so all you have to do is show up! Every weekend I try to go on a day hike and I have been greeted by amazing views and met some interesting people.
Something New: To keep up with all the political drama happening in the USA I started listening to podcasts on a daily basis. I now turn to podcasts not just for politics but for anything new I want to learn! My favorites right now are Harry Potter & the Sacred Text and the Ben Shapiro Show.
Something Old: I’ve continued to binge watch numerous Netflix series, even though it’s a habit I’ve tried to quit since college (favorites are Orange is the New Black and House of Cards). However, I limit myself to only doing it in the night time hours, saving the day to go out and explore. Another hobby I’ve continued is yoga, there are so many classes and studios in Nairobi, it really makes me feel like I am back home in California.
Something New: I started Swahili lessons. Even though everyone in Nairobi mostly speaks Sheng (a slang mix of English, Swahili, French, Portuguese, and local dialects), I took up Swahili to understand at least some words people were saying. So far so good and I’ve been able to get basic greetings and manners down. Wish me luck for when things get complicated!
Something Old: I always find a gym wherever I am! I find it to be a good way to meet people outside of work and see how different cultures view fitness. I used to go to a gym run by body builders when I was in Kenya and learned all kinds of new exercises and ways to repurpose machines.
Something New: Taking all forms of public transportation! There are often easier ways to get around but I choose to take shared taxis instead of Uber / motorbikes. It's better financially and feels like I'm more culturally immersed. It may not always be comfortable but how many people can say their daily commute is often shared with live chickens! I plan to bring this back to the states and use public transportation more frequently.
Something Old: In New Zealand, I would start every work day by listening to the Fletch, Vaughan and Megan morning radio show while I drove to the office. It is absolutely hilarious and not being a morning person, the show was my only motivation for getting out of bed in time to beat traffic. Ever since I've been in Kyrgyzstan for the fellowship, I've been listening to their podcast instead during my trolley bus rides to work. Most mornings I laugh loudly out of habit - forgetting that I'm not in the privacy of my little car but in a bus full of Kyrgyz people who are already looking at the me with that "who are you and what are you doing here" look because, naturally, I stick out like a sore thumb.
Something New: On the show, they sometimes do food hacks. I've tried all the food hacks they've done since fellowship started using ingredients from the local supermarket which has been a fun way to try local brands. Last week I used a packet of chocolate biscuits, vanilla ice-cream and a salt-n-pepper grinder to recreate the ice-cream sprinkles food hack - brilliant and delicious!
Something Old: In Dar es Salaam, I have continued to run, but as it is not wise to run alone, I have joined several running groups. I run with different people each week, of all nationalities, ages, and walks of life. When I can, I join a group of people who run 10ks every Saturday morning and then we all have breakfast after at one of the best breakfast spots in town. Running is quite a bit different here, however. We are often running on dirt roads, through villages, dodging potholes, chickens, goats, and dala dalas! When I run down a certain street, I always pass a group of school children, who always run with us for a few blocks.
Something New: Since being in Dar, I have joined a women's soccer team, that plays every Wednesday evening. We play on a red dirt pitch, which always leaves us incredibly dirty afterwards! Every few weeks, we scrimmage against a local guys team, which is great fun. Often, local kids come and join us. We usually grab a beer after we play on Wednesdays at our favorite local pub! I haven't played soccer since I was in college, so it’s been fun to get back into it. It has been a great way to be active and make new friends.
Something Old: I have continued to keep up my hobby of traveling as much as possible. Even if it means I have to do it on a budget and couchsurf in Athens or spend a few hours sleeping in an airport in order to get a reasonably priced flight, I'm still keeping up this hobby with a vengeance
Something New: I'd say my food obsession since living in the Middle East has been based on eating lots of Falafel and Hummus, it's just delicious!
Something Old (that never fails): When I travel abroad I try to connect with local esperantists – speakers of the international language Esperanto. This time in Tajikistan was exception. My first week in Dushanbe had been rather lonely, but in the weekend I got in touch with the local Esperanto association and soon enough I had a cool company of new friends to hang out with after work and on weekends. Most of them are local Tajik youths, but one is a guy from California who has been living in Tajikistan for two years. We use English sometimes, because some of my new friends are beginners in Esperanto, but mostly we speak Esperanto that really lives up to its official name – the International Language. When visiting different countries I feel like it gives me a much greater advantage when it comes to starting new friendships and exploring local cultures than English ever does.