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