So, I’ve been living at site for over a year, and I haven’t really detailed what my daily life is like. This fact actually drives my parents crazy, so Mom & Dad, here is the blog entry that you can direct people to when they ask what exactly I do.
My current Monday through Friday
6-6:50am – My alarm goes off.
- Yes, even with 8 hours of sleep, it takes me a long time to wake up.
7-7:30am – Get out of bed and get ready for the day.
- The usual: brush teeth, wash face, get dressed, etc.
7:30-7:45am – Eat breakfast at the market.
- I really enjoy this time as I get to talk to everyone who walks by. I used to eat bai saach jrook (pork & rice, usually with eggs) every day, but then the lady who sells it stopped selling it for a while, so I started to eat bon chaio (Cambodian omlette) every morning, which is what I usually saved for weekends since I love it so much. Now my pork lady is back but I’m still eating the omlette because I haven’t ruined it for myself yet, so why stop a good thing? Sometimes, both of the ladies aren’t there, in which case I have nom ban chock (Cambodian noodles), of which there are plenty of stall to choose from. There are two types of nom ban chok, with red soup or green soup. Personally, I’m a fan of the red soup, whether the meat in it is chicken or fish.
7:45-11am – Work at the Health Center.
- This can involve any number of things, but usually I just help the midwives with ANC appointments (I am an expert at measuring blood pressure and pregnant bellies at this point!), including asking questions and talking about different health topics.
|Hard at work... laughing. My co-workers like to play with my phone when we don't have patients.|
11am-12pm – Relax and eat lunch.
- Relaxation usually involves any number of things: dancing around my room to my latest musical obsession (lately: 90% Taylor Swift’s 1989, 10% Sia’s 1000 Forms of Fear), Facebooking, Redditing, catching up on news, watching TV on my computer (lately: Gilmore Girls & Full House), reading (currently the His Dark Materials series), writing To Do lists for later in the day, organizing my bookshelf and table. Lunch is whatever my aunt, dad, or sister makes, usually a vegetable, a small amount of meat, and lots of rice.
12-1pm – Get tutored in Khmer.
- I do this every day, because language skills are important to my work and also I really enjoy knowing how to read this language, even if it is still pretty difficult with words that I don’t yet know.
|On the wall of my room. Khmer rounded style (the kind seen on signs and book covers) and Khmer regular style (the kind I can actually read and write).|
1-4pm – Do important things, exercise, shower, and relax.
- How do I define important things? Anything related to my job here (reading the CHE Manuals to make sure all my information is correct), anything related to learning Khmer (yes, I spend some time going over what I learned and also have other materials I look at occasionally), anything related to secondary projects (grant-writing), anything related to the Committee I’m a part of (GenEq) or the Competition I’m co-organizer for this year (Write On!), and anything related to home that needs my attention (loan forms, credit card things, questions from past tutees). As for exercise, my aunt usually exercises with me, and I do exercise videos. For the past two months it’s been Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and Shaun T’s Focus T25 on rotation, sometimes it’s Zumba, or Tae Bo, or Hip Hop Abs. Sometimes I switch up my routine and exercise as soon as I get home, then go hang out at the high school to practice my Khmer and let the students practice English if they want to, which some of them usually do.
4-5pm – Teach my health center staff English.
- This is pretty self-explanatory. We’ve only been doing this for a few weeks. They seem to really enjoy it.
5-9pm – Hang out with my host family, eat dinner, and relax.
- This is when my host siblings will usually come into my room and watch TV with me or listen to music with me or ask me English questions from the large amount of English books I have on my bookshelf. Dinner usually happens between 6 and 7, although sometimes it is later than 7. Dinner is like lunch, sometimes the same food, sometimes my mom will whip up something else.
9-9:30pm – Bedtime routine.
- This is my routine, and it never changes: floss, mouthwash, brush my hair, write in my journal.
By 10pm – In bed, ready to sleep.
Of course, over the past year and a half my weekday schedule has changed a lot. Last school year, I taught at the elementary school from 3:30-4:30pm, and then at a local NGO from 5-6pm. I also didn’t start my exercising until August, and after school let out, I would work afternoons in the health center from 2-5pm. I never really ate at the market until about 3 months ago, and I used to be the first one to my health center every day. Now I arrive at the same time as everybody else. My Khmer tutoring time has been the same since last October.
One exception to this schedule is when I go to a different village to do home visits. My day starts off the same but then I bike to the village, trying to arrive by 8:30am, at which point I meet up with the Village Health Volunteer (VHV), and we walk from house to house, usually speaking to pregnant women and new mothers. Every now and then one of my VHVs will get into a discussion with someone, so I will play with their kids, asking them about hand-washing and teaching them songs. I love children.
The other exception is holidays, of which Cambodia has a lot. This year Cambodia has a total of 27 days of holidays. Depending on the holiday, I either stay home, so the day is like a usual weekend day, or I go somewhere else (if the holiday falls on a Friday or Monday) to have a three day weekend. The somewhere else is usually Phnom Penh, because the other volunteers have the same idea, so we can all see each other and hang out.
My weekend days usually consist of whatever I want them to, aside from Skyping with my parents every Saturday morning and doing laundry either Saturday or Sunday mid-morning. We hand-wash clothes here, so laundry takes some time, but I find it oddly relaxing at this point, and I’m much, much faster than I used to be. Sometimes I go for walks or bike rides, or hang out at the market chatting with people, or I visit my Khmer friends or talk on the phone with other volunteers. A lot of the time I read or watch a movie. Sometimes I take a morning visit to a town an hour away by torrie (get there by 8am, leave by 12pm) to see Devin and Meagan and go to the ATM in their town. I also do art projects with my little siblings: collages, mosaics, paper dolls, coloring. We’ve done them all.
|Art project: mosaics|
|Art project: draw body parts. In this case, the heart.|
|Art project: collages. This was by far the most popular. I have folders upon folders of collages that the little sibs made.|
So this is what my daily life is like. If you want me to, I can write up a post about the 5 major health topics that CHE volunteers like me are supposed to teach about.