A Firsthand Look at Tbilisi, Georgia (Not the state Georgia!)

Welcome to Tbilisi, Georgia: The city that loves you! I count this as my first day because I wasn’t able to make it to my first tour. And by that, I mean that I arrived a day late at 5 a.m. and since no one else really knew I was here, the carpool didn’t know about me. So I spent the day watching cartoons.

It turns out the iconic line in Scooby Doo doesn’t even have the iconic, “I wouldn’t have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” It was completely different. I have to say, I was more disappointed at that than missing my tour…

Anyway, today definitely makes up for it. I started off my day by going with our group of SDSU students over to Tbilisi State University, or TSU for short. It was like any other orientation. Except the bags were MUCH cooler than the ones I got my freshman year. It even included a planner with quotes from people like Albert MC², Sir Isaac Newton and lastly, Luke Skywalker. I’m kidding about the last one, but that would have been awesome. During the orientation, the dean of the school was talking to about 130 students that are in the program. For a program that just started, it is actually pretty impressive. The best part about their program is that they’ll graduate in four years while it will take SDSU students six years to get the equivalent degree.

It was very strange experience at one point during the orientation. The dean was talking to all the students and asked all the international students not from San Diego to stand up. I’d say about 15 stood up. There were some applause and then he asked the students from SDSU to stand up. This is when yours truly and the other nine in my group stood up. He talked about how important we were to the program, and mentioned that all the students should make sure we enjoy ourselves because the more we talk about it and get other SDSU students excited, more of their students will have the opportunity to go to SDSU. Obviously he said it in a more charismatic way than I just described, but you get the idea.

But thinking back on it, it was strange to me to think that what I thought and what I did has such a major impact on people’s lives that I will never personally meet. In that moment, I felt I was the center of attention.

So I found a spot I want to go to. It’s called Patara Lilo and it looks like a little village outside of Tbilisi. I think it would be a good spot to go to since it’s not too far and I start to get into nature.

Besides that I haven’t done very much. I’ve been sick so I’ve just stayed inside eating and trying to learn some more Georgian. Especially if I’m going to be venturing out more. That’s all I got for now. I should have a pretty sick picture by tomorrow. Granted, if I figure out how to get the pictures off my SDHC. Yup, you read that right. It’s not even an SD card or a micro SD card, it’s a freaking big card that doesn’t even fit into my computer or, my guess, any modern computer.

It’s 5am over here and I’m about to head out of the city and into what I think is a little village just outside of Tbilisi. I think it’s a crazy idea, so I try not to think too hard about what I’m about to do. I’m going to get some pretty cool pictures, or at least that’s the goal. When I went to the balcony to grab my jacket that was drying, I saw the craziest thing. I saw the constellation Orion. I’ll draw it for you later but it caught me off-guard because that constellation isn’t supposed to show up in the U.S.A until at least a couple months from now. And yet there it was right in my face. Here, in a totally different country, a couple thousand miles away from home, it was nice to see that the night sky never changes.

Georgians are seriously the nicest people ever. As you may have guessed, my brilliant plan had one tiny problem. No one is awake at this time. I should have realized something was off when I went outside and the only car I saw was the taxi coming to get me. We never ended up going to the village outside the city, because he essentially told me not to do it so early in the morning. After we were able to communicate using Google Translate, he started driving me back to my place. But he took the longer route, showing me places around the city that I should go to see the history of the city. That was my first real tour of the city. I still plan on going to that village, but I may not be able to get that sunrise photo that I wanted.

Oh well, now I know that I have to wait until at least 9 or 10 a.m. to do something.

So today I went to the mall. It was pretty much what you can expect from a mall. Nice clothing being sold at huge premiums just because of a name. Don’t get me wrong, the clothing is nice, but I can’t justify spending over $100 for a jacket, especially if I’m going to need multiple. The kind of clothing I want to find here is more … traditional. Something like the 4 gentlemen below are wearing.

We also saw a movie in English. It’s always nice to hear English, since it’s so familiar.

It turns out that there’s a railway system that goes throughout the whole country. I’ve seriously got to find out how to use that. And that’s all for the week! Stay tuned to see what other ridiculous things a 19-year-old can come up with, with so much free time on his hands. Who knows, maybe one of them will actually work out. Until next week!

Gonzalo Tucker is an astronomy major. He is studying at SDSU Georgia in Tbilisi for Fall Semester 2016.

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