[EDIT: Got blogger to start working normally again through an awesome router program! Added links and a photo.]
So, I’ve had several little pieces of my life written up now and backlogged in keeping with my new years resolution, but Blogspot then mysteriously stopped working in random parts of the country (including mine). I’m managing to post this through proxy servers recommended by several helpful PCVs, but it’s not letting me post any photos, which is a massive fail. Just goes to show: Kazakhstan will break your resolutions for you. You’re not the boss around here!
So for now, you all get a boring text update, sans media. My older host brother came to visit for the winter holidays from Tomsk, Russia, where he goes to university (he’s my age and studying engineering). I plan to devote a post very soon to my host family and house, as it’s something people have been asking about (once Blogger starts working properly, that is…!). But in any case, it was nice to have the whole family together, and you could tell how much they all missed each other. We had several nice dinners and the day before he left I made them a pumpkin pie from scratch (kneaded and rolled out the crust dough, boiled and mashed the pumpkin, added “real” cow milk and spices: nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon…which amazingly you can all find here!).
One of my biggest plans for the next six months is actually just to study like crazy for the LSATs. It may seem like grad school is really far away, but when you think about it, you have to apply the year before you go, and prepare your apps and tests the year before you apply…which makes the whole process take at least 2 years. Lordie. So I have myself on a daily regime of timed test sections, and it’s been going pretty well so far. I will grill myself into shape by June 27th, when I will hopefully have an unregistered test site opened in Almaty for the exam. I was also amazed to find real LSAT books and even a 2010 ABA-Approved Law School guidebook at this really cool educational center in Shymkent. It’s called “Bilim” and is funded by the U.S. Embassy and the Soros Foundation, and I’m thinking of starting a secondary project there to help kids with their college apps abroad. I’ll also be interviewing Kazakhstanian applicants to Harvard this year — that is, if we have any in the record number of apps this season (from my exchanges w/ Admissions, it seems I’m the closest known alum to the expat-heavy western oil cities of Aktrau and Atrau, which is weird to think about).
After the LSAT, I am planning on taking an epic vacation somewhere warm and happy (probably Malaysia/the Philippines to visit friends, which would be a blast! I get deliriously happy just thinking about it. Also on my 2010 must-visit trip list is India/Sri Lanka). If there’s one thing we must take advantage of here, it’s all the opportunities to travel on our vacation days (we get two a month, which makes for 48 over two years. You can bet I’m already allocating them!).
Also, I’ve also started some new things on the work-front, but I will have to wait another week or so to post details. Stay tuned.
Finally, on a sobering note, the roads have gotten icy and dangerous since the most recent sleet-fall even here in the South. One of our Kaz-20 volunteers in a nearby city was in a car accident and is in critical condition as of this morning. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. What with the dilapidated Soviet cars, lack of seatbelts, freezing weather and poor road maintenance here, it seems like a risk to even get into a car period. We even had a close call when our car skid off the icy road on our way back from Medeo when Haibo and I were in Almaty — all the windows on one side were shattered and we were covered in crumbled glass, but all of us, thank goodness, got away with nary a scratch. Kaz volunteers, let’s all be careful out there and avoid any unnecessary risks…especially during these winter months.