I’ve been in Macedonia for six months!
The official day was last week, but this is my blog and I do what I want.
In honor of my Macedon-iversary, I wanted to reflect on my time here so far. (Cue Mulan soundtrack.) I’d like to ask myself some of these same questions at intervals throughout my service and see how the answers change. (Feel free to comment with your own questions too!)
Six words to describe the first six months: Whirlwind, bread, confusing, exciting, cold, introspection
What have I done in the last six months? Moved to another country, learned survival Macedonian, started a new job, ate a ton of cabbage, started working with GLOW, worked with my students to prepare for the National Spelling Bee, and gained two families.
What do I want to do in the next six months? Start an English club, start a Club GLOW in my region, learn more Macedonian, run a half marathon (May 10!), master cooking a traditional dish (or several), hike a lot, make more friends in my village, and maybe paint a zebra in my living room with my host mom (see below).
What have you read? The entire Hunger Games series, The entire Game of Thrones series (so far. Hustle up with book six George!), “Paper Towns,” by John Green, “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett, “Wonder,” by R. J. Palacio (so, so good), “Divergent,” by Veronica Roth, and I’m about to finish “The Blue Sweater,” by Jacqueline Novogratz (Thanks again Ashley and Steve!).
Number of postcards/letters I’ve sent: 12
Thoughts on post Peace Corps life: It still seems a long way away, most days. I told a friend recently that I was interested in post-graduate studies in brunch. And if it turns out that’s a real thing, I’m totally serious.
Six favorite moments I (probably) haven’t blogged about:
- During training, when I was doing my practicum at a village school outside Sveti Nikole, a taxi drove four of us every morning. It was just the driver and I one day, and I asked about his family. He said his son lives in America, where he works as a chauffeur out of Ohio. Right now, he’s in Colorado, and his dad wasn’t sure why. He didn’t say Aspen by name, but I’m pretty sure his son is Lloyd Christmas.
- I was hanging with my host mom and we were both scrolling our Facebook feeds, because Facebook is everywhere. I was reading about all my friends that are getting engaged, despite explicit directions to wait till I come home. She was reading about home improvement. She handed me her phone with a photo of a zebra painting and proposed we try recreating it on the white, living room walls this summer. I told her I was terrible at art and we both laughed for a long time. The thing is, I think she was serious. (Stay tuned.)
- I don’t know the exact reason, but we were just hanging out, watching a corny Serbian singing competition on TV. My host mom turned and said, “Пеа, се сме, и сè OK.” It means, “Sing, laugh, and everything’s okay.” (She’s started saying OK a lot because of me.)
- My fifth graders recently learned about animals, and one activity in their text-book was learning “Old McDonald.” This was great, until we got to sheep. Sheep say, “baa.” The Macedonian word for grandma is “baba.” So when we started singing about a baa-baa here and a baa-baa there, we were singing about a grandma farm. No one could stop laughing and they were still singing about the baba farm after class.
- I have a perfect nephew in America. He’s almost a year old and every time my brother sends me new pictures of him it’s the best part of my day. He has insane blue eyes and his little baby laughter is the greatest thing I’ve heard since my service began. I also have a host nephew here, who is about the same age. He visited a few weekends ago and I pulled up photos of my nephew on my phone to show him. His eyes lit up and he kept reaching for my phone. And then, this sweet, nine-month-old pulled the phone over and kissed the screen. I melted.
- I know I’ve blogged about this before, but it just has to be mentioned again. A huge moment for me was in December, when I was feeling pretty low. I had a faux Christmas weekend planned with other volunteers and I needed that distraction from an emotional week. And then I missed my bus. The kindness of everyone at the bus station that day, from the woman at the counter who worked with my broken Macedonian, the man who called the bus to wait for me and told the cab driver where to go, the bus driver who pulled over on the side of the road ten minutes away, and the cab driver who raced to get me there as soon as possible — they made my weekend possible. And that weekend of laughter and Christmas movies, hugs and lentil chili, sharing stories and silly, secret Santa gifts was exactly what I needed.
Here’s to the next six months!