Monday, September 10, 2012

The Challenges of Adapting

It has been almost a month since I arrived in Georgia, and two weeks since I arrived in the village.  I have been pondering this post for a couple of days, and I still haven’t come to a conclusion as to whether or not life in Georgia is becoming easier to navigate. 

The biggest challenge by far, especially living outside the major cities, is the language barrier. Initially, I assumed I could effortlessly live in Georgia with my knowledge of Russian and English; however, in my experience, this isn’t the case. First off, there is a group of people mid to early 20s that don’t know either English or Russian (these people would be considered potential friends and young taxi drivers). Additionally, for those who may know English, confidence issues and vocabulary limitations inhibit our ability to communicate. In regards to Russian, I have no more confidence issues, if something needs to be said I will try, but then again my vocabulary limitations hinder those conversations. All in all, I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to learn Georgian. For some reason, I have really resisted, but sitting around the house and hanging out with my family’s friends with a blank stare on my face while everyone else is laughing or deep in thought is really quite depressing. 

The second issue is not sharing the common knowledge that everyone (aka all the Georgians) inherently understands. This problem is most prominent when it comes to transportation. Fares are hardly posted, except for a few marshutkas, and the prices change depending on the time of day. Of course, Georgians know how to navigate the seemingly unregulated transportation system, but it isn’t until you are shouting in English/Russian at a taxi driver about the fairness of their prices that you realize you might be missing something that everyone else knows. Another bit of common knowledge I seem to be missing is table etiquette. Apparently, one should always set the table for everyone, even if you are the only one eating. Also, I’ve noticed that all the food placed on the table isn’t meant to be eaten- the abundance is just meant for show and being able to resist eating all the food is a source of personal pride. Additionally, it is seen to be rude/odd if you just sip your wine when no one is toasting (but in my defense, the tamada takes way too long to toast especially if he is in a drunken stupor) and god forbid if your wine glass goes empty during a supra (which can be a fun/sad expat game to see how many times you can empty your glass before people realize). Clearly, the only answer to this problem is to make mistakes and ask questions. 

Finally, the physical adjustment of my body getting used to Georgian food and water has taken a long time.  Having been sick twice already, I would just like to be able to eat and drink without contemplating the health risks (which would be many by American standards) of my meals. On the other hand, I must admit my experiences at the medical clinics (in Tbilisi) have been really positive. 

Clearly, adapting just takes time and patience, but coming from a culture of instant gratification, I would really like to finish adapting to the culture right now.

Batumi and Back

Last week several volunteers from my region and I traveled to Batumi. We took 7hr marshutkas (public minivan) to and from Tbilisi and taxis from our region to Tbilisi. We stayed in a hostel located in the center of the city. 

The main attraction of Batumi is the boardwalk and the pebbly (the pebbles are an inch or bigger) beaches of the Black Sea.  But for me, Batumi had something else better than a potential tan. I spent most of my time walking from one café to the next sampling Batumi’s lattes. “What a peculiar activity? “ you may ask, but when the nearest espresso drink is an hour and a half away from your home-sipping espresso everyday then becomes an activity of luxury only to be experienced on vacation.  

One café called the Boulangerie was a stellar commercialized (at least it seemed so) café that was the closest to an American café. To be honest, it is actually a bakery that just happens to sell lattes and European hot chocolate (the kind that resembles a thick pudding rather than a liquid). Obviously, I frequented it daily.

The cafés of Batumi not only fed my addiction to caffeine but it also quelled my craving for internet (at least for a few days). Living without wifi has definitely been the biggest challenge since entering the village. Back home in the US, I could instantly wiki an answer to a question, or constantly know what all my friends are up to via Facebook, but here, I have to wait and make a daily list of things that I want to search on the internet.

Overall, the most enjoyable part of the trip was being able to communicate in English with people who shared the same cultural literacy as me; therefore, our conversations were colored with jokes and familiar references that communication in the village is often lacking.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Domavoi for Sale/Adoption/FREE

Alas, the domavoi, Russian house sprite, is harassing me so I am putting it up for adoption/sale/giving it away. Yes, I know my house is in Georgia, but the house was made during the Soviet period, so I am going to assume it has one.
Several frustrating scenarios have occurred since I have arrived. For instance, the other night, I was walking down the stairwell, which has no lighting, when I stepped on a random cactus. I have no clue from where this cactus came.   Luckily, I only had three big thorns that could easily be taken out by tweezers, but why did it have to happen?
Eventually, I fell asleep last night deciding to be proactive by going running in the morning.
Up until today, I have been too worried to exercise. Exercising doesn’t really exist here. Although my host cousin tells me that she does yoga in her apartment back in Tbilisi and runs in the yard while in the village. Previous volunteers warned me about the hassles of exercising outside of the yard. Some advice included a list of inappropriate clothing one should not wear, reasons why you will always be stared at (because people wonder to where are you running and why so quickly), and to watch out for village dogs who will chase you.  But after talking to another volunteer who lives several villages away about the inevitability of gaining weight if we didn’t do something now, I decided to give running a try.
So this morning, I went running/walking and gasping for air up the mountain (it could have been a really big hill, I don’t know) to the peach orchards that my family owns. My run was frequently halted by herds of sheep, getting hit by figs falling from the sky, and rocky paths that were too dangerous to run.  But I managed to get a work out, and headed back home proud of conquering my fear.
Then the domavoi struck. I went into the bathroom to take a shower, and there was no electricity. This meant I couldn’t take a shower. I am now used to not having electricity during the day, but not when I want to shower. My host mother and father explained that I would have to take a bucket bath. When hearing the sound of those words strung together, I wanted to cry. I wanted to find the small panjuri hammer and throw a tantrum like my little friend. However, since I am not a one year old, I told myself to save those tears for a time when I would really need them, and drink coffee instead.  I drank two cups of coffee and had breakfast while I waited for the 10 liter bucket to boil. I dreaded every moment that went by, praying to all the world’s deities that the electricity would turn on, but alas no one listened; I had to take the bucket bath.
I managed to take the bucket bath. In order to have a bucket bath, you need two buckets of water, one that is cold and one that is hot. You have to mix the two in a pitcher and bathe accordingly. Let’s just say, I survived and was proud once more that I had conquered yet another challenge. As I was walking up the stairs to my room, I was pondering how these moments of great satisfaction, like running in the peach orchards, are always followed by another challenge, aka the bucket bath. And as I walked into my room, the electricity turned on.  ….Not cool, Mr. House Sprite. I really needed to wash my hair today.

So if anyone has literature about how to get rid of domavois or the rules of switching them to another house, I send it my way. I would love to know. 

Georgian Eggplant Side Dish Recipe

4 eggplants
1 head of garlic
2 table spoons of water
3 tablespoons of salt
2 cups of rapeseed oil

1.    Mince garlic in pestle and mortar. Place in small bowl and add water.
2.    Add rapeseed oil to deep frying pan and place on high heat.
3.    Peel eggplants with a striped pattern (keep some peel on the eggplant). Cut off top and bottom. Then cut strips a centimeter thick lengthwise. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt.
4.     Place eggplant slices in the pan when oil begins to boil. Flip slice when underside is brown. 
5.    Once both sides are brown, strain slices. Let sit until room temperature. Before serving, pour garlic mixture over the eggplant. 


One is the Loneliest Number…

Today is a sad day. My best friend (of five whole days) in the village is leaving me for better things in Tbilisi. She is one fourth my size with curly brown hair in ringlets and huge light blue eyes. When there is music playing, which there frequently is in this household of musicians, she throws her hands up in the air, puts on a big smile, and begins to dance on her tiptoes. We eat sunflower seeds together and scribble on scrap pieces of paper (although, I am actually trying to write the Georgian alphabet). She knows about as much Georgian as I do (ara-no, modi-come, daeda-mom, mama-dad, baba-grandmother/father…eh, she knows that one better than I do). She doesn’t care if I speak English to her, and I don’t care if she speaks Georgian baby talk to me. We make do with charades. Grant it at times, she had a tendency to eat her dresses and terrorize the dog with a small panjuri (Georgian guitar) hammer, but we all have our moments. Yes?  I am told I will see her again soon.  Hopefully, by then we can carry on simple conversations like ‘hi’ and ‘bye,’ but for now, I will just continue to study in the village without my joyful little friend.

Mean Trick

The grown-ups played a trick on my little friend today before she left.
She was playing with her bucket and shovel, when she began screaming and pointing to inside the bucket. Someone had placed the unthinkable in her toy, two carrots.
Her confused mama (father) picked up the carrots and gave them to her, but she let them fall on the couch and inched toward them, still screaming, with her pointer finger stretched out. She touched the carrot and quickly backed away. I can’t say that I am in expert in Georgian baby talk, but I am pretty sure she was pissed.
As traumatized as my host niece was about the situation, my host mother was thrilled. She, the culprit of the trick, was giggling in the corner. She walked over to my host niece and showed her how to eat a carrot. Warily, my host niece approached the carrot, nibbled, and ran to her mother. 
Luckily for my little friend, the carrots did not make it back to Tbilisi.

This Is How We Go Out

While my host brother is visiting with his wife and cousin, my host sister and I go out with them to different parts of the nearby city at night. They meet up with their friends, buy snacks, play the guitar and sing songs. For anyone who has received my texts during this time, this is what I call the “sing-a-longs.” The first night we went to the town cultural center (theater) and hung out on the steps for a couple of hours. My host niece sometimes comes with us. Of course, she just dances to the music until she falls asleep. Last night we went to a monument park dedicated to a soldier who had fallen in battle while looking for his son.  The park included an amphitheater, where our groups’ singers and guitar players performed. Most of the songs are in English like pieces from Green Day, Adele, Johnny Cash, and a special rendition of Elvis Presley’s "Heartbreak Hotel." One Georgian song, called “You Are My Queen,” from a famous Georgian film, The Toy Soldiers Are Laughing is quite popular among the group.  It’s interesting to see just how many people there are out at night. It’s mostly young people hanging out with their friends around town. 

Georgian Food

The other day, I was invited to help make several traditional Georgian dishes.

In the morning, my host sister-in-law and her adorable child were working together to make churchkhela , which is a traditional Georgian candy that you can often find in markets. This sweet treat is made of unfermented grape juice, flour, and walnuts. Before processed foods, my host father told me, Georgian warriors would take churchkhela with them to war because it is so high in calories.

To begin, you double thread about a foot of string with a needle. Tie a knot at the bottom. Then begin to string the walnuts on the thread. After 6 inches, stop, tie a knot, and begin again. My host father told me that during the harvest time, people will make 100s of these in a single batch.

The gummy part that you dip the string of walnuts in is a caramel made of grape juice and flour boiled in a pot. While the mixture is still boiling, take the nuts and cover them with the caramel (we used a wooden spoon to help).  Hang your churchkhela on a stick outside, and they’ll be ready in 2 weeks depending on the weather.

Now, the best part of this process is the left over caramel which you just eat with a spoon and the left over walnuts.

We also made mother’s bread (puri is bread), which is a long flat bread that families in the villages will make batches of once or twice a week. My host grandmother is in charge of this process; however, since she is older, a neighbor comes over to help her. Baking the bread was a day long process that I only saw parts of between my naps so some of these steps are based on assumption. The women made several batches of a double rise dough (remember this bread is bread for the entire family/business for the week, and we eat bread at every meal, so the batch is HUGE). Then they made a fire in the outdoor stove, which is about hip-high, 4 feet across, and resembles a chimney. As the fire was cooling off, we (yup, this is where I came in) made small little boules (everyone was impressed with my bread shaping-I think may have redeemed myself from the basil fiasco), which the neighbor would then stretch, flip it back and forth between her hands to elongate it, then slap them to the side of the oven beginning at the top. She continued this process until the oven was full. Each loaf takes about 20 minutes to cook. When the loaf was ready, she would scrape them off the sides of the oven.

Cultural Side Note: I made a Georgian faux pas yesterday when I placed the bread wrong side up.  That is to say, the side that was attached to the oven (it usually is darker with some black specs), should never face up.  I don’t know why. My host father said “TIG,” which means This Is Georgia.  Basically, this is a catch all phrase for the things that are Georgian, but on the surface don’t make sense.

Finally, my host sister taught me how to make khachapuri, which is cheese bread. I had learned how to make one kind before from my friend Inna; however this was “Eastern” Georgian khachapuri, which is a little different.  Although it is super simple to prepare. You make smaller boules from the mother bread dough, and then flatten it with your finger tips. Once flattened, you add a huge heap of shredded cheese to the middle of your dough. Then take one side, and slowly pinch the edges together into a dumpling shape. Tear off any extra dough. Flip your khachapuri so that your pinched edges are on the bottom and begin to flatten with your finger tips again. Once you think it is a good height, check the bottom to make sure there are no holes, and throw it into the frying pan. You’ll know it is time to flip the khachapuri when the bottom is a bit brown. Flip. Add butter. Cook. Then place on plate with more butter. Cut into fourths.  You must eat with your hands.

I had a lot of khachapuri that day. I think next time I make this dish, I will add scallions to the cheese mixture to give it more depth in flavor.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Thought It Was Only in Winter

When I read in previous volunteers’ blogs that they had a lot of spare time while living in the village, I thought that sounded nice. Some caught up on reading the classics, others became fluent in a language and others studied for the GRE. Of course, I thought this meant during the winter when schools were possibly closed. By this time, I would be familiar with the family’s daily pattern and wrapped up in a comfy blanket with hot cocoa.  But alas, I did not consider the “before school starts” time. 

Grant it, I have been in my village less than a week, but occupying my time without wireless internet is incredibly difficult. I spend a large amount of time trying to make sense of the Georgian alphabet, and when I feel utterly stupid, I switch to Russian (it is debatable whether or not this helps my self-esteem). I sit, watch my host family, and try to identify Georgian words I know. My host family also has a piano which I practice at least once an hour each day. Often, I stare at my phone trying to send people telepathic messages to call/text me. I do bird watching from my window while drinking tea in the morning and afternoons. I don’t know what kind of birds they are but there are lots of them. Usually there is one big event of the day that gets me out of the hose like a tour of the neighborhood or the peach garden. Yesterday, I met a TLG volunteer and several Peace Corps volunteers in town. Today my host sister and I are going to visit my school.

 What does my family do? My host family cleans in the morning. The grandmother seems to be in charge of the garden and chickens (I would help her, but I don’t know if I have lost all credibility in the garden since the basil fiasco. She was chuckling at me yesterday as I made my way to the basil plant for my caprese salad, which also made me laugh). The grandfather spends all day in the woodworking shop building Georgian three-string guitars (But they are not called guitars. Everyone gets very offended if I refer to them as guitars. I should probably make a flashcard for that word). As for the others, around mid-day they disappear, I suspect, into a room with a tv, which I have yet to find, but often hear. 
I am sure when school starts and I become more familiar with the people and surrounding areas, I will hopefully be able to do more.  My hope is to find a running path that won’t kill me. The roads here are made of huge loose rocks. My host cousin told me that it is good to run around in the yard. However, I am still baffled as to how one does that in such a small space.  There is a TLG volunteer four villages away (about 7km) that I could practice running to, but I think, exercising in general is a foreign concept in the village. 

A Funny, but Sad Story

Yesterday morning I woke up telling myself it would be a good day. The day before I had used the bathroom in its full capacity and had succeeded. I also learned how to get rid of the mosquitoes, which were flying around my room. 

I woke up thinking, “Today, I am going to learn how to use the stove.”  I decided to make a fried egg with basil for breakfast. The first step was to find the basil. 

During my tour of the house, my host sister explained the layout of the garden. When we passed the basil, I remember noting its red/purple qualities which differed from the basil at home. 

I got dressed and walked down stairs, through the archway to the garden. My plan was to pick the leaves I thought looked like basil, smell them, and continue until I found it.

That morning, the grandmother was in the garden collecting apples. I contorted my mouth in the hopes of correctly pronouncing “Peaceful morning” (which sounds like Dee-la Meesh-vee-doe-be-sa ) in Georgian. She smiled and replied. It was a pleasant successful moment that I definitely reveled in, since I haven’t been able to communicate with her. But then it went all wrong.

I bent down to pick a purplely red leaf and she started speaking to me frantically in Georgian.

“Basil? I am looking for basil,” I explained pointing to the plant.  I continued to make a motion to pick the leaf, but she was shouting (now, this is debatable, because Georgians speak very loudly).

My host brother quickly walked around the corner asking what was wrong. I explained that I was looking for basil. He looked at me and then at the grandmother. He told me I was trying to pick a flower leaf instead of basil. He then showed me where the basil was.

I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically. From the grandmother’s point of view, I must seem like the stupid American that doesn’t know what basil is.  Quite frankly, I don’t know what I would do if someone was trying to eat flower leaves.  However, I must admit my moments of laughter were tinged with tears, like a surprise pity party for one.  I could not even pick basil here without someone’s help? There goes my independence, which I so highly value, for a year. Mais c’est la vie, oui?

As soon as I had gathered my leaves, I scurried off to the kitchen, where my host father explained to me in English how to work the gas stove. 

Compared to my TLG friends, I am very lucky to have several host family members, who speak English. I can’t imagine what stories they will have by the end of the year. 


I packed a pair of wellies, shower shoes, tennis shoes, and wore my black round toe ballet flats to Georgia. However, no one told me how serious Georgians are about their shoes.

On our first day of exploring Georgia, I decided to wear my grey and light blue tennis shoes with a skirt and a top. Grant it, I thought the combination was a stretch, but it was a comfy choice that I knew my feet wouldn’t regret… if only, I had considered my pride.  I definitely knew something was wrong as I walked down the streets and people would not stare at me, as we had been warned, but they were staring at my shoes! In the metro, an older woman glanced down and shook her head. As I walked down a tree-lined street, a group of men sitting on concrete benches nudged each other, pointed, and snickered.  

Well, clearly something had to change. In my search for shoes, I asked the native TLG representatives where could I find appropriate shoes. My choices were expensive department stores like Zara, a Walmart-ish store called Goodwill, a bazaar, or a second hand shop.

On the last day, our group of volunteers went to a bazaar/mall (which resembled the malls in Manila). The bazaar was what you would expect, small alley ways created by vendors ‘stalls with a roof made of tarp. Wandering through the bazaar, there seemed to be some organization as to which section certain items were sold. With my broken Russian, I managed to get 10 laris ($8) off of two pairs of shoes from a female shoe vendor.

Now, I have two lovely pairs of pointed ballet flats that are Georgian appropriate. My current shoe conundrum is how to keep them clean. Somehow, I imagined Georgia to be covered in hills full of lush grass and large deciduous oaks; however it’s more like Tatoui from Star Wars. Dust is everywhere and constantly getting on my new shoes.  In Tbilisi, I was always baffled looking at people’s immaculate shoes on the metro. How do they do it?

The other day when I made the mistake of rubbing my shoes on my pants, my host sister pulled a wipe from her purse and told me to use it on my pants. So my task today is to go into town by marshutka (local bus) and buy some wipes in my mangled version of Georgian.

After all my shoes issues, I can’t help but think how much my grandmother would enjoy this land of fashionable pristine shoes.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Exploring the Tbilisi before Orientation

Tbilisi has many statues around the city much like this one.

 Famous bath houses of Tbilisi.

Old Tbilisi Fortress

Mother Georgia Statue, aka Queen Tamara

Kathleen and I riding the cable car to the fortress.

Group of TLG volunteers at the fortress.
Tying a wish on the Wish Tree.

The Village/City Conundrum

My conversations with the volunteers have been the typical get to know you questions such as "What's your name?" "Where are you from?" "Are you enjoying Tbilisi?" "What's your opinion about the food?" "Do you know ____ in Georgian?" On the positive side, we no longer have to specify in which  Georgia we are working. Although one reoccurring question that everyone asks is, "So, are you hoping for a village, town, or city?" 

Of course, we are all "randomly" selected to a host family and location, but the ramifications of this decision are quite daunting. It will be our first time in Georgia alone as the only foreigner (for many who are placed in the village) and away from the hotel. Our locations will set precedence for the pace of our lives.

When asking this question, I believe many of us are curious as to why someone would choose one location over another and the insights their decision tells us about their personalities.  I also think most of us are looking for comfort of a new perspective. If the village is the worst case scenario, why does Volunteer X want to go there? Am I missing something? 

Luckily (although others would disagree), we won't be place in the high mountainous regions, or in villages with less than 50 students at our school. From what I've heard, one is usually placed within a bus ride  away from a city or town. This may be a long bus ride, but if you haven't spoken to someone in English for a month, an hour bus ride would not be too awful.

Today, we find out our regions and host families. Thank god, we have free minutes to call other volunteers.

Orientation in Tbilisi

For future TLG-ers, after you arrive in Tbilisi, the puzzle pieces slowly come together. These are pictures from my life at orientation in Tbilisi.

Photo of the hotel:

Today's morning spread (We were lucky to have scrambled eggs. Normally, we have hard boiled eggs) :

Methodology course: 

Georgian class:

Typical schedule (it's very close to other TLG bloggers' posts from previous groups):

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Getting from Point A to Point B for TLGers

This post is for future TLGers with some advice.

Before departing, make sure you join the TLG Facebook page, you will not only get updates about the program, but you will meet people who are leaving from the same airports as you. In Istanbul,  I had planned to meet two volunteers at the Starbucks during our layover. 

Don't worry you will meet TLG volunteers along the way (aka you're not the only crazy one). Before I arrived at Istanbul, I met several volunteers in Chicago. There can only be so many young American backpackers who are traveling in Istanbul/Warsaw- the rest are volunteers. If someone has a huge pack and 'looks' American at your layover, go say 'hey'. Worse case scenario, the person won't be from TLG, but have an amazing story like the guy who I met in Chicago. He is a student at UT who is taking a semester off of school, traveling to Germany, and working on a horse farm in order to spend time with his German girlfriend. 

When you arrive in Tbilisi, go through customs, collect your baggage, and walk through the sliding doors. There, you will find TLG representatives. Don't forget to exchange some money ($100 usd or so) and pick up a map from the information kiosk.  

One last piece of advice, drink as much liquids as possible at your meals in the hotel and eat the cheese. Each sweltering day you are allotted four water bottles. Even though this is generous, do not be alarmed if you glance down at your hands, only to find kielbasa. Eat the cheese. It has salt that will return your fingers to their previous condition.  Also, air conditioning doesn't really exist in the hotel either....good luck sleeping.

Monday, August 13, 2012

End Results

I am packed and ready to go. My life for the next 10 months has been contained in one traveling pack (hiding in the duffel bag), one carry-on suitcase, and one purse/sack (unfortunately, this means no sledding with old suitcases in the winter). 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Inevitable Post: Packing

The Job
Georgia in yellow
I will be on my way to Tbilisi, Georgia, the country, in three days for the Teach and Learn Georgia (TLG) orientation. TLG is a program initiated by Ministry of Education that enables English speakers to teach (with the assistance of  Georgian English teachers) conversation and listening skills to Georgian students (grades 1-6 or police officers)

For the next ten months, I will be living in this small country in the Caucasus with a host family. Georgians, according to my research, are known for their hospitality and fierce pride-they have a lot of history of which to be proud (as depicted in the statue Mother Georgia in Tbilisi). Georgia is also known for its wine and subsequently, a drink akin to vodka made from leftover grape bits called cha-cha. Delicious khachapuri (think deep-dish white pizza) and khinkali (dumplings) come from this region. 

The Packing List 

Like any normal TLG-volunteer, I am going to post my packing list for future volunteers (please, withhold any judgement, non-participants). In a couple of months I will be able to share with you if I packed too much or not enough.

Galoshes ~Flip flops ~Trainers ~Black ballet flats ~Brown work-appropriate heels~House slippers


Rain jacket~ Winter Jacket ~ Leather Jacket ~3 cardigans


3 jeans~ 1 pair of black pants  ~4 skirts (navy/olive/black/winter)~2 around the house pants (I have been advised to bring stretchy pants. You either gain lots or loose lots in Georgia)


2 tank tops~ 6 short sleeve ~5 long sleeve~ 1 turtleneck ~ 1 work out top (short sleeve loose wick t-shirt from previous 5k, too tight might attract too much unwanted attention)

2 Scarves (summer/winter)

2 pairs of wool socks
2 dresses (winter/fall-spring)
Winter bed clothes (wool sweater/wool leg warmers/flannel)
Many undergarments


Simple English dictionary
Expo Markers and two white boards (8x11)
Flash cards (blank and sight words) *I've read bring as many as you can*
Prizes (stickers and nifty erasers) 
2 packs of chalk
Notebooks/writing pads
Several paperback books to read
Binder with plastic sleeves (see Living Rootless link below)


Electronic Reader (great for downloading books/electronic Georgian to English flashcards)
Thumb drives (These are great if you have to go to an internet cafe and want to keep up a blog or make worksheets. They will save you time)
C Plug Adapter+ Voltage Converter (220-150 <~~~for Americans)
Alarm Clock
Various Batteries
Lavender Sachets
Resistance bands (much lighter than weights)
Tote for school
Host family gift
2 light weight travel towels (from REI, X-LG/Med)
2 pairs of up-to-date glasses
Hand sanitizer (to carry to school, I've seen blogs about a lack of soap in bathrooms) 
Travel -size wrinkle release spray (no wrinkles, clothes smell good)
Imodium, Ibuprofen, Benadryl
Bug spray
Sewing kit
Wind-up flashlight 
Travel Journal

I relied on several other blogs when packing:

-Living Rootless (great list for everything)

-Teaching Brave  (general but informative)
-Unofficial Guide to TLG  (great list for females)
-TLG Post from Bruna (a list of reality checks as you begin hyperventilating while packing)
     -Advice from her post: "Don't over-pack. You probably won't be in a shack somewhere and probably won't need a lot of things that you think you will need. Georgia has pretty much anything you will need and if not in your village, you can probably find it in the nearest city." 

We'll see...