It is back to a routine today. That means getting up earlier than we have been, getting to the college by 8:30 to set up the equipment before class begins at 9:00 and teaching until 4:00. The weather is cloudy with lots of fog but not very cold.
We have found that Moldovan time is different from our time. If we want Vitali to pick us up at 8:30 we need to say at least 8:15 for him to be here anywhere close to 8:30. We talked about it in class today and they confirmed that they are just always late. When we give them a ten minute break it is usually much later when they come back. We just start without them but it doesn’t seem to bother them!
We also found that we have a different schedule for the last two weeks than we had expected. We understood that we were to teach undergrads next week and have the last week to sightsee or travel around the country. But today we found that they expect us to teach the last week as well. They have classes for the Romanian students and separate classes for the Russian students. All these graduate students are Romanian (I think that just means their primary language is Romanian) so next week when they are teaching undergrads they will be teaching the Romanian classes. Vadim, the dean, wants to make sure the Russian students get this information as well so consequently we will teach the Russian students the last week. At least the days will be shorter. He said we would begin at 10:40 until lunch. That’s a short day! But then as he gave us a more detailed schedule we find out that lunch is at 2:00. We knew that the lunch break for the graduate students had been at 1:30 but didn’t know that was the norm. But that is still a much shorter day and will give us time after classes to tour around some.
There is a very distinct division between Romanians and Russians. We think the Russians face some discrimination but our class says they do not. Remember, however, this is a Romanian group! Of course the language difference makes it hard for them to associate with one another but many people speak both languages. The Romanians associate the Russians with the Soviet reign in Moldova so they seem to be second class citizens. There are separate churches and schools. The government promotes the Romanian language. In fact a person cannot get a government job if they do not speak Romanian.
People walk and ride the bus to get to their destinations. There are people walking in the city at all hours (at least the hours we have been out). There are also many cars and very poor streets. Oleg told us that in 1960 when they were doing city planning they predicted that by the year 2000 there would be very few cars in the city and everyone would be traveling by public transportation. So they didn’t do anything about building or maintaining streets. Now they have many cars and when driving you must dodge the holes in the road as well as the CRAZY drivers! Vitali, who by the way is an excellent driver, says you must have 5 sets of eyes to drive in Chisinau. There are no lanes. Everyone makes his own. They even pass on the wrong side. Traffic lights are in weird places, like on traffic circles. It would be like having a traffic light just as you enter LaSalle from the circle. It is wild. Preston is really glad he does not have to drive. By the way, they drive on the right hand side. Someone had asked about that. Friday we parked in the parking lot that was barely wide enough to get two cars in and then had to back up to get out of the lot. But so far we have only seen one wreck! Amazing!!