03/13/2013 03:07 pm ET Updated May 13, 2013

A Fulbright Scholar's Morning in the Republic of Georgia

The chimes from my alarm clock awaken me at 8 o'clock. Hopping out of bed, I run to the bathroom and turn on the bathtub faucet. No water comes out. Our reserve tank provides me with a trickle from the kitchen sink spigot so I fill up the teakettle, light the gas burner on the stove, and then lay out my clothes for the day. I quickly iron a wrinkled sweater using my new iron, which, unfortunately, only has a 12-inch cord. I failed to notice this when I bought it (we solved the problem with a light weight extension cord). I go back and retry the tub faucet; it gasps a few times, and then splashes out a steady stream of water. Yay! I can have a bath this morning.

My husband busies himself preparing breakfast. After we eat our typical full breakfast of fresh eggs, yogurt, toast, juice, and American coffee from freshly ground beans (a small splurge on a coffee bean grinder results in this extravagance), he dons my backpack that is filled with my computer, IPad, cords, and adapters. We start the walk up the steep hill to the University of Telavi. We greet a few neighbors and other commuters who are walking to their jobs. After buying a couple of bottles of water at the kiosk outside the university, we enter the Soviet era building at ten o'clock, the black marble floors echoing our footsteps as we climb three flights of stairs to my office. I enter the large room, saying "Gamarjobot" (Hello) to two of my colleagues who have arrived before me, and I bid my husband goodbye. By 10:30, most of the instructors have arrived - time schedules are not as strictly followed in the Republic of Georgia as compared to the United States. As I sit at my desk in a corner and go over the preps for my media class to upper level English majors, I listen to Georgian chatter between colleagues, recognizing a few words. They ask me in English if I would like some coffee, and I thank them, saying that I had a cup at home and was okay for now. At 10:50, chimes ring indicating the end of the ten o'clock classes. I gather my recently purchased chalk, a blackboard eraser, some copies of a sample blog, and my class notes, and then start to climb two more flights of stairs to the fifth floor. I think about how I never see anyone jogging in this city - they get plenty of exercise climbing the hills, climbing up and down stairs, and carrying heavy bags to work, to home, from the market, etc.

Ten young women greet me with smiles and hellos as I enter the classroom. There are three new students who did not attend the first class last week. Georgian university culture is different than the United States; students are absent more frequently and often arrive late. I am delighted to have more students today. We begin our lesson on "A Dog's Blog" by reviewing vocabulary words. The students gain understanding when I give them synonyms of difficult words, act out some of the words, draw pictures of the words on the chalkboard, and when I use a few Georgian words. The students are excited and motivated, laughing at some of my antics, and they thoroughly understand the sample blog by the time the class is finished. We wrap up the lesson with a reminder of what we would review next week, and they leave the room as the 11:50 chimes ring.

After I leave the classroom, I walk down six flights of stairs for a delicious lunch of kitri and pamidori (cucumber and tomato) salad mixed with cilantro and vinegar, accompanied by fresh slices of bakery bread. My Peace Corps friend, an English teacher, and I order tea and coffee with our meals; it is still a bit chilly in Telavi, and the heat in the coffee will warm us as we ready ourselves for the afternoon.