Famous Last Words

The Spiel: Jess N Stan

Places that I have given the spiel include (and are not limited to): in a classroom, on a chairlift, through e-mail, on a taxi to the airport the morning after my 21st, at a party to a crowd of my parents’ slightly tipsy friends, and now here. I have become so proficient in giving the spiel that the reality of it has become even more distant; but as January 21st quickly approaches, it seems fitting to give it one last time as way to begin this blog.

Famous last moments before the spiel:

“Oh you are going abroad in the spring? That’s wonderful! Where are you going?”


And thus follows the confused silence, launching me into giving the spiel.

The Spiel:

I, Jessica, will be studying abroad this spring in Dushanbe, Tajikistan where I will study Farsi, which is a dialect of Persian. Due to the complicated relations between Iran and the United States, I cannot exactly go to Iran to further my Farsi studies. Fortunately, Tajiki is another dialect of Persian and American Councils offers a program for Farsi in Dushanbe, so traveling there offers me the opportunity to study both.


Where is Tajikistan?

A former Soviet satellite state, Tajikistan is one of the “stans” located south of Russia. It is west of China. It also is north of Afghanistan, a fact I sometimes omit depending upon whom I am telling.

China, the odd one out in this map of Stans.

Is it safe?

Of course, most of the remaining landmines are marked clearly with a pictographic sign. Anyone who does not want to lose a foot should be able to interpret the following:

The poor unfortunate figure who stepped on a landmine. Courtesy of my acceptance handbook.

On a more serious note, as with travel to any place, Tajikistan will be a safe as the decisions I will make as a traveler and guest in the region.

What color will you dye your hair?

Honestly, I hadn’t really considered it. Although I have always wanted to experiment with life as a brunette, I feel dying my hair will do little help me blend in, especially once my roots start growing in. There is a very good chance that I am going to stand out even without blonde hair so being mistaken for a local is a lofty goal. Instead, I am going to spend my time focusing on improving my language skills and engaging with the community without offending an entire nation.


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