As I get ready to COS (close of service) today, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on my time here. In fact, I’m a little forced to reflect because of all the exit interview questions and questions from staff, PCVs, and locals. While I was reflecting, I realized how my service in Azerbaijan has changed me. It has changed my character and some of my habits. These are some new habits I’ll be taking back with me to America.

1. Sharing more
We are taught to share as kids in America, but that doesn’t even equal to how kids here are taught to share. There is always enough to share. I once split a mandarin between 4 people. On a bus, people have asked me if I wanted some of their newly opened soft drink; to me, a complete stranger, they are offering to share their drink. Even old women on the bus who bring road food have offered to share what they have with me. I want to keep the mentality that there is always enough to share.

2. Brewing tea
I had a thought this past month about kitchen necessities when I accept an internship in D.C. I thought, “I definitely need to buy a tea pot and kettle to boil water. I have a coffee maker from college, but I probably won’t need that. What would I do with a coffee maker?” I will always love coffee, but I have officially become a tea person.

3. Living minimally
I had a lot of clothes in America. I do mean, A LOT. In college I only did laundry every 1 ½ months. During my service I have learned to live with less. I only had the clothes I could bring in 2 suitcases. I only had the kitchen items given to me by past volunteers and a few new items. I lived with less even though at times I didn’t need to. I know it will be a struggle to not fall back into buying things I don’t really need, not to live that consumer driven life. I’ll give it a good try!

4. Baking with estimates
I decided to not bring measuring cups or spoons for baking. Other volunteers brought them, but I decided I didn’t need them. I was going to bake the way Azerbaijani women bake—without measuring cups. They do have ways of measuring such as using a real cup as “a cup”, a big spoon as 1 tbsp, and a little spoon as 1 tsp. This is the way I have been baking, making it up as I go. It’s also the way I’ve learned to cook.

5. Slippers
The most amazing inventions ever!! Why did I not wear slippers before? They keep my feet warm, and I’m always so very very cold.

I’ve enjoyed my time in Azerbaijan and wouldn’t change it for the world! It has challenged me and changed me in ways I never expected and still don’t even know. Here’s to 33 months of joy, challenges, and sadness! You’ll forever be my second home Azerbaijan.