At the end of today I will have exactly ten working days left in this school year. On June 14th I will head off to Buckswood for a five day, all-expenses-paid orientation session (I’m hoping that the food is good and they have internet and other amenities, but you never know) and after that begins the limbo period of waiting for my flight back to New York City.
The end of the school year means people will be saying their goodbyes. TLG volunteers will be dispersing for the summer. Many of the friends and acquaintences I’ve made will be leaving forever. People pass through each others’ lives no matter what their circumstances, but the life of an EFL teacher abroad is particularly transient. It’s a stark contrast with Georgian culture, in which people tend to form close-knit circles of friends, progress through school together, and maintain contact for life.
My social outlook is changing – rather than building and strengthening bonds of friendship and social connections, as I spent much of my first six months here doing, I’m drawing inward, perhaps in a reaction to the perceived futility of going out of my way to be around people who are going away.
I’m also focusing more on building a stable life here – trying to find long-term ways to supplement my income, for instance – and on ways to improve my experience and effectiveness as a teacher next year.
I’ll tell you what it feels like, being here right now. It feels like I’m a supersenior. I’ve compared this experience – being in TLG – to a shorter and much more intense version of college. Now I feel like I’m a college senior – that is, I’ve been here for about as long as anyone and there are tons of people who are comparatively new, many of whom I am out of touch with – but instead of graduating, I’m sticking around for another year. Next year I’ll be one of the “old guard.” I won’t be able to connect to new volunteers on a certain level, because they’ll be going through something that for me is an increasingly distant memory, and to them I’ll seem callous and aloof, or something.
So that’s weird for me. It’s weird knowing that most of the people who I have made a connection with are going away, and won’t be able to make the same connection with the people who are coming to replace them – that essentially, the kinds of relationships that I’ve formed this past year may be unique (after all, it was my first living abroad experience) and may be irreplaceable and may be going away forever. It’s weird knowing that I may be isolated next year by the simple reality that my problems and challenges and experience are going to be vastly different than the problems and challenges and experiences of most of the people who will form my potential social circle.
I guess maybe I’ll write a yearly retrospective – maybe when I’m in New York again – in which I look back at all that’s happened this year, how I’ve changed and how I’ve stayed the same, what my opinions are on a year abroad, etc – but for now I’m looking forward more than anything. Although the school year is ending, and although I’m in this weird ambiguous social space, and although I’ll certainly miss the friends I’ve met here, I’m just so wrapped up in plans and hopes for the future – what my curriculum will be like next year, how I’ll make the extra money I’ll need to live comfortably, what I’ll be doing this summer – that this end feels much more like a beginning than anything else.
I feel like this year was a good jumping-off point, but I’m really only just getting started.
I was initially going to embed a video of the Smashing Pumpkins song whose title this post is named after, but actually that song kind of sucks, and as I was writing this I was reminded of this song:
This is the final track on one of the most amazing story albums ever recorded: A Grand Don’t Come for Free, by The Streets. The entire album is worth a listen and of course since it is a story if you listen to this track first it’s sort of a spoiler, but I don’t imagine there are many people who will listen to an entire British hip-hop concept album solely on my recommendation, so just listening to this song is probably second-best. But seriously, you should listen to the whole album.