As the majority of the audience of this blog knows (i.e. friends and family), I’m a skating official in my spare time. Actually, figure skating is such a large part of my life that I form free time aside from skating, since I can easily be gone from home at least two weekends a month at competitions, test sessions, etc. If you care to know, I hold appointments in two “areas” (to put it simply): 1) Music Coordinator, and 2) Judge. Impressive? Maybe. But the community is what is important to me, and many of my fellow officials have a huge hand in not only helping me develop as an official, but as a person as well.
Anyway, I was at a competition last week when I received an email from Fulbright informing me that the school I was originally assigned to (Azerbaijan Tourism Institute) can no longer host me, so I was moved.
I freaked out – thought I was going to have a heart attack. But I got a grip and reminded myself that seemingly drastic change happened ALL THE TIME to me in Turkey. *breathe* Yes, this was change, but I’m still a solid month-and-a-half out from actually teaching–really, the news has come in plenty of time.
Then I got excited. I looked up my new school, Azerbaijan State Economic University (ASEU), and was immediately attracted to the architecture. If I remember correctly from hurriedly scanning the website, the campus was finished pre-USSR days, so the campus buildings have….personality. As in there’s some depth and embellishment to the stonework rather than a flat, concrete box staring out onto the street. ASEU is also one of the top universities in Azerbaijan, and it has a robust student body with hundreds of attendees from around the world. I feel extremely honored at the prospect of walking through its doors as a semi-professional.
Then I freaked out again. My Lord, I’m starting over from square one. I am NO closer to finding a place to live, NO closer to knowing the types of classes I’m going to teach, let alone what my exact role is (e.g. co-teacher, conversation ‘expert’). Not to mention I haven’t applied for my visa or purchased a plane ticket….. *cue nervous laughter*
Fulbright is funny in this regard (keep in mind, this is MY opinion): everything is well organized, yet not; things seem to progress at a steady rate, yet sometimes I feel bumped back. My original school could no longer host me, but they found a new spot for me the same day; which shows an amazing level of efficiency. Yet the next second I feel hopelessly behind in my preparations and wonder if I will ever catch up…
So the main point of this post? Dear future Fulbrighters, know that this is normal. I was in DC recently for a pre-departure Fulbright orientation (I’ll probably write something up about that). I can’t begin to tell you how much better I feel after meeting peers and alumni. We’re all in the same boat, and believe me, it is not sinking; all the pieces will come together!
Until next time… (: