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Monday, October 31, 2011


A link to the Halloween video:

: ) Enjoy!!

Happy Halloween

This weekend was AWESOME!!

The weekend technically began for me on Thursday night. Claire and I had an impromptu costume making night. As mentioned before, we’d all decided to go as Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. Well we simply didn’t think our costumes were good enough, so we decided to take the extra step and create some fake beards and tools out of paper. Once we finished, we taped on our new beards and showed off our costumes to my host mom and dad, who thought we were totally mental, but they loved it!!

So Friday morning rolled around, and the bus ride into Kumonavo was hilarious. Kenzie and Andres got into their costumes, seeing as how they couldn’t exactly walk down the streets of Lozovo wearing dresses and skirts. After adding some final touches, we made a GRAND entrance!! We spent most of the day entirely in character, and to our surprise a lot of the other volunteers also dressed up!! The day was a lot of fun, really. They had a big map for us with our photos on the places we were each placed. They also made us a fancy Peace Corps cake as part of the celebration. That evening, we all joined at the Irish Pub in the city. I do actually have a video for all of this, but my computer's battery life will not allow me to upload it just yet. Something to look forward to, I suppose : )

The following morning, a handful of us caught the 7am train into Skopje. Some of the volunteers were wanting to shop, seeing as how it is getting colder, esp at night. I ended taking a journey around town with a local. We went up Vodna Mountain (the big cross overlooking the city). We ate traditional Macedonia food, drank local beer, and walked all over the city. I was also introduced to some new people, and it felt fantastic just being able to hang out with people my age who are not American and to not feel like Im standing out at all. It was really nice to make some new friends. The day was just perfect though. I couldn’t have asked for a better guide!! That night, I traveled all the way back to Lozovo by myself. All the volunteers went back home at different times, but my new friends helped me arrange some accommodations so that I could stay longer. The first time traveling alone at night was interesting!! I rode on a train, a bus, and a taxi, and I had not one problem. Here, as long as you know the language, you can figure it all out….and having friends who will personally call a specific cab for you doesn’t hurt. : )

Sunday morning was strange. I woke up at 6:30am, and I could not go back to sleep!! The ONE morning I get to sleep in, and I can’t. I guess I was just all worked up from being in such a fantastic mood, I just don’t know. But I took advantage of the time, and I relaxed in bed, mostly thinking about a lot of things, for two whole hours before actually getting up. The rest was nice to have. The rest of the day was a great way to spend a Sunday. I visited with Andres and Kenzie. We walked down the road and grabbed a beer outside, because the weather was beautiful!! We met up with Shannon for a hot minute, before all retreating back home for our lunches. After lunch, Milevka took me over to a house Ive never been before. There is this really nice woman whom Ive met several times around the village, and she’s asked Milevka on several occasions to bring me over for a visit. So we just kinda showed up unannounced. This family has a lovely home and the most adorable children!! At first, I didn’t say much. They slowly started to ask more questions and got excited that I was able to understand most of what they were saying. The husband also speaks pretty fluent English, and he was a blast to talk to!! He’s worked in the army, and has spent time in the Ukraine and Afghanistan, so we were able to talk about our travels. Then, I’m not sure how it got brought up, but I made mention of the films I’ve made. They had INTERNET, which I was so jealous of, but they were excited to look up the videos!! So for the next 15 minutes, we did nothing but sit around and watch all of my films on youtube. They thought it was fantastic!! I love that I get such positive feedback. Everyone in the village knows me as the girl who makes the videos, and people ask me to film their children or to come over so I can film their families. It’s so funny, and I take it all as one big compliment. J Even on Friday, when we were all in Kumonavo, I had a lot of the Peace Corps staff coming up to me and complimenting the films. They said everyone in the main office has seen them and just think they are great!!

Anywho…this week is going to be busy. I am telling ya’ll right now, I kind of doubt I will have internet. Starting tomorrow, I will not be in Lozovo. Tues-Thursday, I’ll be staying in Kocani, meeting everyone I need to meet and seeing as much of my soon-to-be-home as I can. If you happen to send me an email, please be patient and understanding in that I may not be able to respond to you until the following week. I may also not be able to update the blog, but we shall see. That being said, keep the emails coming, of course!! Loving you all <3 

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Another video....nothing special, but our "taco night" was beyond epic. And you get to hear me speak one sentence in Macedonia at the end:

So not much to update. I am still in a fantastic mood from finding out about my placement. I spent the entire night lounging around my house with my fellow volunteers and celebrating.

Tomorrow, we will all go to Kumanovo for another "Hub Day," which we are pretty pumped about!! Since they dont celebrate Halloween here, we are taking it upon ourselves to celebrate it while in the city tomorrow. There are 9 of us in Lozovo: 7 girls and 2 guys. So we have decided to go as Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. Kenzie and Andres will be dressing up as the lady roles, complete with dresses and skirts, and the ladies will be the 7 dwarfs....myself being Doc. : ) Anywho...we are pumped, because we will get to see all the other volunteers tomorrow and get to talk about where everyone is going. We will also receive information about next week, which is when we all travel to our new placements for a few days.

Now, on the topic of Halloween, I was pretty bummed it wasnt a huge celebration here at first. THEN, I found out that they have their own form of Halloween in January. Check it out:

So I am TOTALLY going to that!! Anywho...all in all, everything is awesome. I want to extend a warm THANK YOU to everyone who emailed me this week. I received more than I ever have, and boy did it make my day. I must say, I am so thankful to have such wonderful friends and family....I couldnt ask for a better support system.

Oh, and this weekend is going to be fantastic...have I told you? : )

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'll be in Kocani!!!!!!

Here is the Wiki link:

Here are photos:

I AM SO EXCITED!!!! This is the place I wanted!!!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's been a long week

New Video:

I haven’t updated in quite some time. Things have been hectic here. I’ve had many ups and downs in the past week, and I apologize for not being able to update the blog…I have only had internet occasionally on my phone here and there.

Last week was spent in Velez. I did my “practicum” teaching/observing at a high school. I really don’t feel like going into much detail about the week, but I will say it was by far the busiest week. Every day, except Wednesday, I went to my language lesson at 9:30am. From there, I’d attempt to catch one of the buses into Velez. The bus schedule sucks, because it is never consistent or on time. After getting into the city, I always had to walk about 30-40 minutes to the school. Thankfully, the days were mostly warm and sunny. Then there was school from 1pm-7:15pm. After school, I had another 30-40 min walk back to the bus station where I’d hop on the next bus, and then walk about 15 minutes back home in Lozovo. Each night, I got home around 9 or so. It was EXHAUSTING. And the high school was what an alternative high school in America is like. My counterpart was a fantastic woman to meet, and I plan on staying friends with her. That’s really all I can say about the week without making it too boring for ya’ll to read. If you’d like to know more, just email me.

Over the weekend, all the volunteers went up to Skopje for “field day.” This is basically where all the volunteers who are currently serving in Macedonia get together and eat a lot of food and get to know one another. After kicking it there for a bit, Claire, Mary, and myself made our way to a coffee shop, which was suggested to me by my counterpart. Now, I must say…here in Macedonian, you don’t ever get real coffee. You either get Macedonian coffee, which is basically Turkish coffee, or you get the instant stuff that just mixes with water. So finding this place was like waking up on Xmas morning. I splurged and bought the largest and fanciest coffee drink there was!!

After lounging around for a while with the ladies, I set out to explore the town more with Claire and Andres. We discovered a mall. We drank at a hidden jem, which is basically a tiny book store/bar/coffee bar. While there, we met the man who is considered the most famous Macedonian modern author. After speaking with him for a hot minute, he offered to email us some of his work, translated in English!! It was fantastic hanging out at this place, but we decided to explore some food options.

From there, the three of us found a Cuban restaurant, where I splurged again and bought a fantastic dinner and a mojito. Let me tell ya, it was nice!! The rest of the night was also fantastic. I did some exploring on my own and had a drink at a tiny indie rocker bar with a local I know. All in all, it was a FANTASTIC time.

Sunday was nice and relaxing. Chris, the volunteer who lived in my house last year, came over for the entire morning and just hung out with the family. We all spoke mostly in Macedonian, and it felt so rewarding to be able to follow and communicate. But now a new week has begun, and Im already exhausted. I’ve got to say…it is extremely difficult here when a bad day comes around and I once again realized how few resources I have here. Here, I can’t simply pick up my phone and call my mother. Here, I can’t just pick up my phone and send a text to a friend in America when I need someone to speak to. Here, I can’t even get online to send my own mother an email to please call me, because I need her…unless of course I am in school and the internet is turned on. Here, when a bad day comes around, I get none of that.

Here, when something bad happens, I am immediately reminded of where I am and how very different it is from home. In Lozovo, there is no where to go if I want to treat myself to a meal or buy myself something nice to cheer myself up…there are about 800 people in the village, most of whom speak no English. I can’t effectively communicate to anyone why I am upset. Instead, word gets around within an hour, I shit you not, where everyone knows I am upset, and everyone wants to know if it has something to do with my host mother or father. Of course, I can tell them no, it is not, but I cannot say much more than that with my limited vocabulary. I do have my fellow volunteers, but even then I still feel a sense of isolation. I love these people so much already, but they still know very little about the events that have shaped me from my past and continue to affect me. On a bad day for me, it is a struggle to feel that isolated, and I don’t think that anyone can fully understand the extent of what I am saying without having been in a similar situation…I just cant explain it.

That being said, I recently had an extreme sense of realization and growth. Instead of isolating myself, I forced myself to leave my room. Even though speaking in Macedonian is by far the hardest thing to do when upset, I forced myself to communicate as best I could about what was going on. I looked awful from crying, but I just made myself suck it up. And Im glad I did. At home, it is so easy to just isolate when youre upset. It’s easy to just call and vent to whomever and go grab a drink or treat myself to a nice meal or a movie. Here, I don’t have that, but I discovered that I can find that same peace in just allowing people to be here for me. Everyone knew I’d been upset, but they just wanted to provide me company…their way of showing me that they care and that they are here…and it really was eye-opening for me. I cant find better words of explaining it.

On a totally different note, I find out this Wednesday where I will be placed for my permanent site placement. Don’t worry, I will certainly post it as soon as I find out!!  On Friday, we go back up to Komonavo for a Hub Day. There, I’ll find out where all the other volunteers are placed. It’ll be exciting to see who will be living closest to me. Then on Saturday, I am traveling back up to Skopje for the day, which I am SO excited about. Next Tuesday-Thursday, I’ll be traveling to my site to meet my counterpart, see where I’ll be working, and hopefully see where I’ll be living. The next 10 days will be the biggest yet.

I hope everyone is well. Keep the emails coming!! I love having them to read. <3 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I just want everyone to know I got a heater yesterday. : ) Thank you for everyones concerns!! haha

Milevka bought me one, and now I am toasty in bed, woo woo!! She also bought me some fancy salami and olives, AND I found cinnamon toast crunch AGAIN, so guess what I had for dinner and breakfast?? <3

Also, two new videos should be up today, but Im having trouble uploading one....and I wont have internet till lord knows when, because I wont even be in Lozovo next week...I'll actually be working in a high school in Veles (look it up!!), so Im pretty excited. But yea...check my youtube channel to see if the videos are up, otherwise I'll get them up some other time. Here is one:

Miss and love everyone!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It is SO COLD!!!!

I am not feeling this weather. For a few days now, it has been painfully cold. The thing about living in Lozovo is that we are in an open plain, so we get A LOT of wind. So not only is it cold, but it is super windy!! Right now, living in my home reminds me of living in my first apartment in NOLA when we had no heat. The only difference is that now, I don’t have a heater to get dressed in front of when that action is needed. My bedroom is by far the worst room in the house. There is actually a breeze from the window right above my bed, so it’s no good for me at all. I’m afraid I may be catching a cold again from it. My family has one tiny heater that really only heats whatever is directly in front of it, so when I come home I will honestly sit in front of it until it is time for bed. Peace Corps is supposed to be giving us heaters for our rooms, but rumor has it we wont be getting them for another week, if not longer…which I hope to be just a rumor. Showering is now something you only do if you MUST, because the shower is handheld…meaning, you never have consistent water flowing onto you…not to mention the extreme temp of the bathroom. The other night, I actually washed my hair upside down in the bathtub, so I didn’t have to take off my coat.

Oh. And let’s not forget our classroom…It is no better. Today and yesterday were hilarious and miserable. Funny, because of the amount of layers everyone had on…including gloves. Miserable, because my feet have been numb for 3 days now in there. Let’s just hope we all get our heaters much sooner than later. Now sure how long I can handle this.

Today (Monday) was a big day of celebration in Macedonia. Kids didn’t have to go to school, and my family had a lot of company over all day. I even got to visit with Kenzie’s family for a bit, so hat was a good change. I spent the rest of the evening reading and teaching my host father English words. Since they always yell at me to eat, go, listen, etc. I taught him those words in English. The word for mean/bad is pronounced “losh” here, so I taught him “mean.” He went around all night saying “Milevka (host mom)is mean.” Hahaha They also call me a baby for going to bed at 10, so I taught him how to say sleep. Tonight, he joked around by saying “It’s almost 10. Go sleep” We all had a good laugh about it!! My communication skills are really improving. It makes me remember how lost and frustrated I was just a few weeks ago. I still cant believe the amount I have learned!!

I’d love to write more, but my fingers are about to have frostbite. Typing in my bed at night just isn’t working right now. Btw, if anyone wants to send me warm clothes, socks, hoodies, long johns—just ask my mom for the mailing addy. It’s super cheap through USPS!! J

Monday, October 10, 2011

понеделник (Monday)

New Photos (including what my house looks like):
FB photo album

We haven’t had internet since last Thursday. It kinda sucks…and not for the reasons you might think. In America, I was totally in love with the internet, especially to pass the time. Here, I rely on it as my main source for communicating with my mom and friends…so when I cant access the internet, I can’t call or write anyone. That aside, not getting on the internet for no reason at all feels great here. There’s always much more to do…even in a tiny village!!

This weekend was BUSY. The weeks are getting some much busier now. On Friday, the volunteers in Lozovo all walked back out to that abandoned train station. It was only a few of us at first. We climbed onto the roof for the sunset. We had snacks, drinks, and music with us, so we camped out until after sunset. It was a simple and relaxing night. I was in bed by 11. Hahaha Saturday, we had to get up early to ride out to Probostip for a day of teaching workshops. All of the TEFL volunteers were there, so it was going to see everyone, but the day was just long. The information was the best I’ve had in the TEFL sessions though, so I def felt like I learned something!! Claire and I booked it down to the “my mart” to buy groceries on our lunch break. It’s funny…every time we are somewhere we can buy groceries, we go crazy!! We were flipping out when we found snickers in this store!! Afterwards, we found a shop that served sandwiches with the fries stuffed in the middle, so we indulged. Saturday night was a whole lot of nothing. We had company for most the night, and then Andres and Claire showed up to watch a movie. 12 Monkeys was coming on…I shit you not…and I thought it was coming on at 9:30, but it was 12:30, so we missed it. I LOVE it when something comes on that is in English, but half the time it is dubbed over in Macedonian.

Sunday, I woke up at 9:30…my usual time. To my surprise, Milevka’s daughter and her grandchildren were all there. I had no idea we were making ajvar!! I’d planned on washing my hair and reading the whole day, but I was instead put to work. I cooked with Milevka in the morning, which was a blast. Then I took the grandkids on a walk around the village. We visited their great grandmother, and then made a stop at Kenzie’s house, since it was right next door. After returning home, I helped them with the TWO batches of ajvar. By the end of the day, I was POOPED!! I admire how productive they always are. Not a day goes by where they aren’t working their butts off.

Also…I had my first heart to heart with my host mother last night. It was just her and I, and she began talking about how hard it was for her to work as she gets older. She also told me she was planning on retiring in 2 years. (I didn’t know the word for this, but I put it together with the other words I knew). She talked about the little money she makes and how little time she has. I also asked her why she wanted to host a volunteer, and she said it was because she loves family and really wanted to have another daughter. Then she told me how happy she was with me and how she brags about me to everyone. The conversation went on for about 30 minutes, and it was by far my proudest moment, communication wise here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just a few things

I want to share with you some of the things I really love about Lozovo:

1.     The goats. There is one large open field in the middle of the village that has about 10 goats at a time just grazing during the day. They are all tied up and belong to people. While walking to school in the morning, I often see the old men who own the goats walking them into the field. Not to mention, the goats are just cute as hell. I often “ba-a-a-a-a” at them, and the little kids who are usually playing in the streets laugh.
2.     Grapes. So many grapes. As mentioned before, my walkway to and from my front door is covered in grapes. There are I think 4 different types of grapes draping from overhead. There is one particular type that is my absolute favorite. I’ve never had anything like it in America. The best way to describe them is a flower. They taste like a sweet flower. They are the most amazing grapes.
3.     Morning rituals. I wake up at 7am every morning. I get ready in about 20 minutes and then make my way into the kitchen. My host mother always leaves out tea made fresh from herbs from the garden. There is always fresh bread with cheese and ajvar (look it up), and fruit laid out to be taken with me. While exiting with my backpack in hand, my host father always greets me by cutting down a fresh bunch of grapes. We exchange jokes before I leave, and I love this part of my day.
4.     The walk to school. My walk to school is about a 10 minute walk. It’s really an easy walk, and I travel on a paved road, so it’s legit. J Anywho, I love that I walk….every day….with a bunch of grapes in hand. You just have no idea. I say good morning to every single person I see, and 99% say it back and ask how I am. I answer and return the question, feeling so much a part of the community already. After passing the goats, I usually pass this one mean stray dog and then make my way up to the school.
5.     Lunch. Well, my mother works at the school, so she is always there and always presenting me (every day) with a chocolate croissant. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but I’m not used to eating so many sweets. Anywho, after school, I go home and eat lunch around 4pm. Lunch is the biggest meal here, and it is always my favorite. The other day, my mother FRIED CHICKEN. And it was EXCELLENT!! So I was sure to tell her I really like it, and sure enough, we had it again!! I’ve also learned some excellent ways to cook veggies through my fantastic lunches.
6.     Having just enough internet access to Skype my real mom. I get to “facetime” my REAL momma about once a day, Mon-Fri, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. We may not have a bank, an ATM, a pharmacy, a market, or anything like it, but we do have internet at the school just enough for me to call my momma, and I love that.

Obviously, there is much much more I love about this village, but these are only just a few. By the way, thanks to those who are writing me!! I cant tell you how much I appreciate and enjoy reading emails. Truly…thank you so much!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Train Days

I had such a good weekend. A seriously good weekend. First, here is one new video:

I actually have another video, but the internet today is impossible, so I will upload it tomorrow. Till then, I've also added more photos in this album:

On Friday, we all drove up to Komonavo for a “hub day,” which is basically one extremely long day with all the volunteers from the other communities. We had seminars on health, safety, and teaching/CD topics. It was fantastic getting to have a reunion with the other volunteers, but it was immediately obvious the close bonds everyone had already formed with the volunteers in their communities. It was also clear that the Lozovo group is by far the loudest and most outgoing (in my own opinion.) J

After our hub day events were over, we were taken into town. We were able to run around for 2 hours, which was the best part! I was able to actually buy stuff, like makeup, tissues, paint brushes w/ a small canvas paper book, some super cheap brushes, a bathroom caddy, and groceries. Oh man, going to the grocery store was the best! I found Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and I about flipped. I bought some chips and chocolate too, but the real prize was the cereal. After the shopping was done, we hit up a hamburger joint.

The hamburger place was something that needs to be on a Travel Channel food show. You walk up to a window and basically ask for a burger. They get a patty and put in like a type of bun pocket (as I like to call it). Then, they add cabbage, onion, ketchup, mayo, and spicy seasonings. Finally, they last addition is the French fries. They literally shove a bunch of fries INSIDE the concoction. They then add more ketchup and mayo, and it is ready to be devoured by yours truly. SO GOOD!!

After getting out burgers, we went and celebrated my dear Mary’s bday with cake at a local bar. Sadly, we only got to kick it for about an hour before jumping back on the hour and a half bus ride home. After returning home around 10pm, we decided to continue our awesome night by sitting on Julie’s house. The roof of Julie’s garage is totally flat, so you can actually sit up there and have room for a party if you wanted. We got blankets, bread w/ivar, and some good ‘ol local wine and rakia. We sat up there until 1am just having the best time telling funny stories, jokes, and simply getting to really know each other better. It was by far my favorite night with everyone.

Now Saturday!! Boy, Saturday was awesome!! Please refer to the videos above for a visual recap of my day. In short, we took about a 40 minute walk out to an abandoned train station, where we just kicked back for a couple hours. It was beautiful!! We loved it so much, we decided to go back again that night. In between those trips, Claire and I helped my mom and dad make homemade ketchup, which was fantastic!! And Sunday…Sunday was mostly spent relaxing, visiting with Milevka’s daughter and kids, and editing said videos above. That is all for now!! I hope everyone enjoys the week!! It’s going to be my longest one yet.