“The language school wrote back and said that all their school dorm rooms were booked up.”
I could hear the disappointment come out in Pat’s voice when he responded; he knew that I wanted to have my own private room right at the school in order to maximize my time in Kyrgyzstan in November.
“She made sure to mention that she could set me up with a nice homestay, which would be better for practicing my Russian.”
The tone of my response was showing a little bit of intrigue, and even as I was speaking these words with the uncontrollable subconscious tone, I thought that what I should really be doing was typing an email stating I was uninterested in a homestay. Period.
Pat continued by offering the suggestion of checking with my friend, the one who will be arriving not too long before I do in October, since there had been talks of crashing with her and her soon-to-be flatmate if they had a place sorted by that time.
Sure, it makes sense staying with people I know, right? Still the excuses made their way into the dialogue. I mean, what about having my own space? What about having my very own room where I don’t feel like I’m invading?
And, in my head: What about my potential language gains? What if this homestay were to be different from the last? Would it really be any different than living with Pat’s family like we are right now?
“I’ll have to think about this some more,” I finished, leaving the topic hanging in the air like the string of a cobweb that has been swept past but not fully cleaned.
I have a habit of putting myself in situations that really don’t suit me, thus causing me to spin out of control with anxiety in hopes of changing or bettering myself in the process. That was what happened 3 years ago in Bishkek, and what was about to happen again right here.
In April of 2008, I flew to Bishkek with no real place to stay but with every intention of finding an apartment or other private abode. Submitting myself to the care of a local Kyrgyz family was not even a blip on the radar — at least not until I heard the spiel from the language school on how it would help enrich my time in Bishkek and advance my language skills. The thought excited me, giving me goosebumps from the combination of nervousness that was leading the way. A few hours later I was sitting at a desk in the office of The London School with a questionnaire; two days later I was meeting with a potential family.
Looking at the decision in the long-run was what motivated me for going outside my comfort zone and into the home of this local family. Visions of being fluent in Russian, which apparently make me think I would be invincible or have some hard-acquired skill to offer potential future employers, drove me along. I must do this; it is for the better of me.
In the day-to-day, it was like carrying a loaded gun on the hip and accidentally shooting myself in the foot. Oh, the awkwardness… oh, the horror of being walked in on in the bathroom or stumbling around to kiosks to find laundry detergent. Seriously.
So, in reality, I lasted a short 7 weeks and found myself to be happier in an apartment, albeit proud of myself for having attempted the homestay at all.
I guess it was a bittersweet time. After hearing the response from the language school and the homestay offer, I immediately focused on the good parts.
Maybe I should just go for the homestay. It’s only a month.
To appease the small cries from my brain that were faintly screaming about being uncomfortable for 28 days of intensive Kyrgyzstan time, I searched around the Web for accommodation options. Could I stay in the guest house I stayed in before? No, that won’t work. I wouldn’t have my own room for study, research, writing and the like, and I would be really far from the city center.
I was mentally wandering in circles all evening, long past the time Pat arrived back home, and long past the time that I should have been working on something else. I was fickle, uncertain. Do I commit or do I follow my own path?
At some point in the evening, another email popped into my inbox:
“Good news, we’ve found a room for you from school dorm. Don’t worry.”