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.
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.
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:
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.