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Wednesday, June 27, 2012



Missed me?! Well I am officially back home in Kocani after a long two weeks of traveling! Obviously, a lot has happened in my two week vacation, but instead of writing down everything I did, everyone I met, and everything I ate, I suppose I'll just show you a few of my favorite highlights of the trip through photos. Ready??

Well, our first stop was Thessaloniki, Greece. We couch surfed with an AMAZING host, who really showed us the best food and nightlife!
Thessaloniki has a million hidden streets and alleyways that are full of great unique bars with excellent happy hours! 

Chad and I enjoying our SECOND meal at this place, because the food was just soooooo good!!

After leaving Thessaloniki, we caught an early morning flight to Zakynthos, Greece. The island was beautiful and full of activites!!
We spent three days exploring the island, and we found a dozen hidden beaches just like this one! The water was often pretty cold, but we were troopers and took advantage of every opportunity!

This was the shipwreck cove. Photos won't do this place justice.

Having fun!

Yes, this is a boat bar, and yes we spent our day here.

Our next destination was Athens, Greece. We were only there for a day, and I'd have to say it was our least favorite place to visit. We did see the typical touristy stuff, which was excellent, but we found the city to be too overwhelming and dirty. Regardless, we still had a great time!!
Me in Athens!!

The ruins

Athens is HUGE!!!!!

From there, we went to my favorite place: CORFU!! Corfu is another little island off the coast of Greece. It is mountainous with a million little is the postcard of paradise. 
The view from our apartment

The evenings were perfect

What we did every morning.

Compliments from our favorite place to eat, complete with the best staff!!

One of our new local friends owns this place, which is located in a village near where we were. We went there on our last night and had an EPIC meal!!

The next places we visited were Milan and Como, in Italy. Both were day trips, but we had an excellent host, Geri, who helped show us everything!!
This is Geri, our host!!

Third largest church in Europe. 

Milan was gorgeous at night!!

Lake Como!! (George Clooney owns a villa here)

Another beautiful sight!!

Our final destination was Venice, Italy. I LOVED Venice!! 

How can you not love Venice?!

Amazing dinner.

: )

Yes, this mask came home with me. It was hand-made. Did you know all the masks for the movie, Eyes Wide Shut were made here??

Last night......sigh....

That's PHOTOS!! I may give more of an update later, but for now, I am tired. I hope you all enjoyed the photos. : ) 

Not all those who wander are lost...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Grand Opening

Yesterday was the grand opening of my dance studio. I got to school at 9:30, and spent the rest of the morning setting the room up. We hung up the framed photographs from the photography club photos all of the walls. We hung the dance posters out in the hallway, and the janitors threw down a red carpet that led from the upstairs all the way down to the studio. The girls got there early too! They spent a few hours rehearsing their dances and getting excited. By 12:15, we already had people showing up. The mayor came, along with two news stations, and even Goce from Peace Corps! I was already so excited!

I began the event by introducing myself and the work I do with Peace Corps. I explained what we offered in the studio, and that it all began by us wanting to encourage and teach English outside of the classroom, while offering extra-curricular activities as well. I thanked the dancers for their hard work and efforts, and explained the dance camp I'd be throwing at the end of the summer. Later, my Director stood up and said some excellent things about me and the progress of everything. Goce, my safety security advisor from PC, also stood up and said a few words. Goce is originally from Kocani, so having his support has been tremendous! After some speaking, I let the kids have the floor!

All I have to say about the dances is that they were AWESOME!! My hip-hop dance crew went first with their dance. You can watch that video in my previous post, or you can find it on my YouTube page. The audience really loved them, and they were not expecting it!! Their tricks were great, and the energy was perfect. My Zumba girls also did a FANTASTIC job!! They were so in sync!! Their moves were sharp, and they just looked perfect. I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time.

As I said, there were two news stations covering the event. Thankfully, I was able to record them while over at Emilija's house for dinner last night:
This is from Kanal 8

This one is from TVK

So yea!! I hope to be seeing some photos from the event at some point too. We had a lot of coverage, and if I can get some of the photos, I will def upload them! 

Other than that, today is the beginning of my VACATION!! It's does not feel like I am about to go on vacation. I managed to pack everything I think I will need into my small backpack. Two weeks of traveling in one bag is NOT easy for a woman, but I think I will manage. : ) I packed nothing but comfy clothes, and the warm temperatures made that easier to pack. In two days, I'll be laying on a beach in Zakynthos (google it!), eating seafood and drinking girly frozen cocktails. Corfu (google it!) is later next week, and then it will be off to Italy. I am so excited and ready for my vacation. I'll be bringing my Ipad along, so I will try to update the blog at some point while traveling. Yay for summer vacation!!

“Not all those who wander are lost.” 

Monday, June 11, 2012

You think you can dance?

Since my last post, I've been busy trying to RELAX. : ) I spent a lot of time with local friends last week, which was great and much needed. Unfortunately for me, my ability to sleep is still absent, so I was still finding myself extremely tired. That being said, I managed to prep the house for Chad, and on Saturday morning he arrived.

I was SO EXCITED to see Chad!! We haven't seen each other in almost 1 year. For those of you who may not know Chad, he is one of my best friends! We went to Loyola University together, and we were roommates in two houses while living in New Orleans. Chad also lived with my mom and me for a short time after Hurricane Katrina, so Chad is more like family to us. Anyways....Chad has never traveled outside of America!! This being his first trip is already wildly entertaining.

Since Chad's been here, it has been non-stop seeing people! We've done coffee with just about everyone, and he's even come and sat in on one of my dance classes. Check out some of the photos he took:

They practiced HARD for this trick!!

I love this : )

Petar can fly!!

Ivan is so proud of his head slide!

Also, if you want to see the dance they have been working on, you can view it below. The video was shot after the kids danced for over an hour, so some of it is not "full out" dancing, but I still think they did an EXCELLENT job!!!!

This Wednesday is the grand opening of the dance studio. Im PUMPED!! The crew kids will perform their dance, and then I think we will have 3 or so Zumba songs as well. We are inviting the media and some local people. A couple of PC people might be coming as well, so that makes me happy. It should be great to get the community into the school to actually see the studio!!

Finally, this week I will leave to go on my vacation. Good god...I am so ready for a vacation. Life hasn't been easy lately, and this time away will be a great break. Chad and I leave Thursday, and will be traveling until the 27th!! Our first week is all Greek Island hoping, which is the part I am most excited about. I seriously cannot wait to spend an entire day in my swimsuit, eating seafood and drinking a frozen cocktail. Italy will be great too. We will be seeing 3 cities in total there, and will be seeing a big festival on a lake. Ending our trip with Venice will be heaven....I'm not going to want to come home. HAHA!!

Ok, that's all I've got. Enjoy the video : )

"We accept the love we think we deserve."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And then there were TWO.

I've recently dealt with some stress in my city that is unfortunate, but has also had its positives. Instead of telling you all about the negative side of everything, I'd like to tell you the two good things that have come out of it.

I have two new friends. Let me rephrase that.....two REAL friends here. One is a man, and another is a woman. The man is someone I've increasingly spent time with, and our friendship is something that reminds me of my male friends at home. He tries to understand me and my frustrations, and he also provides the Macedonian perspective of things. We can joke around, and I can tell that he respects me and cares when I'm unhappy. Finding a male friend here is not the same as it is in America, so my friendship with him is really valuable to me.

The girl is someone PC helped me find. She is from Kocani, but lives and works in Skopje. She used to be a language teacher for PC, but now has a job as a translator. Thankfully for me, she was in Kocani this week, and we managed to spend two evenings together. We clicked instantly!! We spent hours talking. It was the most normal time I've ever had here with someone. I trusted her instantly, and was able to get a new perspective on my recent issues here. Within hours, we were sharing our thoughts on pets, family, friends (old and new), and even ex-boyfriends. Having felt that type of instant connection with a woman MY AGE and with so much in common made me feel so much better. It was the positive push and influence I needed.

I really dont see the point in airing out all my unfortunate bullshit that's been going on lately. If you're close with me, you're aware of the issues anyways. I'm still in the process of working things out, but having friends show me so much support lately has been enough to keep my head above the water and smiling. Even on Sunday, I threw a "Sunday brunch" with fellow PC volunteers. I used to throw brunch or dinner every Sunday with friends in America, and I miss the tradition! It turned into a day of eating and talking, and their company made me appreciate them and their individual situations so much more. Sometimes, volunteers can get so wrapped up in their communities that they forget to make attempts at creating some kind of tradition that keeps everyone connected. Thank goodness for the people who shared and showed support this week. I owe my sanity to them. : )

This Saturday, Chad comes into town!! IM SO EXCITED!!!! We will set off on our epic journey next week, hitting up Greek Islands and northern Italy. Having a best friend from home here will be such a blessing, and I can't wait to travel. Don't worry, videos will come!!

Go to foreign countries and you will get to know the good things one possesses at home.