I am officially living in Kocani.
Thursday was my swearing-in ceremony. It was super official...had a bunch of fancy people there, like the ambassador. When it came time to eat, it was absolutely hilarious. All of the Macedonian families treated the food tables like they were the best Black Friday sales in the history of ever. I mean these women would literally take the serving spoon right out of your hand during mid-serve. I'm not even kidding. Apparently, someone filmed this part of the evening, so I'll try and find it. Explaining it in words just doesnt do any justice. After the swearing in, we showed our videos, and of course everyone just loved ours!! Even the woman in charge of our PST came up to me and said they were definitely going to have me film something for their PST next year, haha. After the presentations, we danced around a bit, and then we hoped on a bus back to Lozovo with all of our families.
The last night was kind of sad. We went to Julie's house and hung out in the garage we painted the mural on. We drank wine and danced with the families. It was really starting to hit. Finally, I think Kenzie was the first one to start giving good-bye hugs. One by one, we all began to leave. I actually cried at this point. I walked home with my host family, and we basically sat around the kitchen table for the rest of the night. We had some company...had some snacks...and talked about how I was going to be ok in Kocani.
So much has happened since Thursday. Friday morning was an ADVENTURE getting all of my luggage not only to the bus stop, but all the way to Kocani and up all 6 flights of stairs!! It's amazing that is has even been that long already. Friday, I spent unpacking. I was so ready get my new apt set up, so I worked my butt off for a few hours before I realized I probably needed to go buy some things, like groceries. So I took a break and walked around Kocani for a couple hours. I was so NERVOUS buying things!! They speak a totally different dialect here....so when I speak in Macedonian, they sometimes dont understand me, or they think Im speaking incorrectly, even though I'm using literature Macedonian. It is really interesting, because a lot of volunteers are experiencing this problem right now. It's just something I'll adjust to. Anywho, so yea...buying things was difficult. My confidence was pretty low, so I tried to not speak a lot and just find what I needed to get out. I managed to buy the basics for my fridge, as well as a blanket for my bed!! (yes, my landlord gave me a kickass bed) The next feat was getting everything back up those 6 flights of stairs. After two trips, I decided to spent the rest of the night hibernating in my apartment. Saturday was another day of shopping and trying to learn how to cook on the damn hot plates and toaster oven. There are 6 settings, which are all the same and burn the hell out of the food, no matter what you cook it in. My pots and pans are pathetic, and my 3 forks and spoons actually bend when you add too much pressure. So Saturday was all about discovering the joys of cooking.
I must say...I am already experiencing a new culture shock. Sunday was hard for me. I was actually really sad. I woke up feeling funky. I made my Christmas Blend coffee in my French press, and I decided to make hashbrowns, because they are a type of comfort food for me. Well of course, the hashbrowns turned out like shit, because I still have no idea how to properly use anything in my kitchen, but I ate them anyways. Afterwards, I sat out on my little mini balcony and thought about why I was not feeling well. I realized that it was the weekend after Thanksgiving, and that is when my mom always puts the Xmas tree up. All the cities start to decorate for the holidays, I spend a lot of time with my mom and sis watching old home movies, eat Chinese food, and listening to Xmas music in the car....I set up my house for the holidays, and I bust out my winter skirts. There's a lot that happens beginning now, in America...and instead, I was sitting all alone on a balcony in the middle of Macedonia in a city where no one really knows me.
So I made cookies.
That's right....I made the most amazing sugar cookies. I actually found the ingredients here AND I managed to make it work in the toaster oven, no less. My counterpart, Emilija, also swung by my place with her husband and one of her kids. I shared my American coffee with them and we laughed about how pathetic I was feeling earlier. I am SO LUCKY to have her...you all just have no idea. We hardly know each other, but we just click. Anyway, she agreed to let me settle some more and said she'd come pick me up to have dinner at their place later. So I decided to take that time to just relax. I was able to talk to my mom, Mimi, and Jessica online, and just talking/seeing them made me feel better. Later, I did go over to Emilija's place for dinner, and we sat around just enjoying the food, a glass of wine, and sharing photos and videos online about our lives. I even managed to buy some trout from her family's fish store!!
I got home last night sometime after 10, and walking up those dark stairs at night is CREEPY. Even being alone in my apartment creeped me out last night. I thought about a lot while laying in bed, and I realized this was probably the first time I've actually slept in a place where I literally have no one around me that I know. I mean, even in my travels, I always had people I shared rooms with...in Lozovo, I had my family in the next room and all the other volunteers within 5 minutes of my house. In America, I either had a roommate, my sister across the street, or someone that was always close. But here in Kocani, on the 6th floor in the middle of the city, I dont have that. It was a weird epiphany!! haha
Anywho...I'm sorry for making such a long post. I knew some of you were anxious for an update. I realize some of this stuff sounds a little sad, but I really am OK. I just need about a week or so to adjust...just like in Lozovo. Not to mention, going from living in a village to living in a city is a shock all on its own, so dont worry about me!! This is normal : ) Send me some emails, ya'll!! I'm picking up free internet from the hotel across the street :D