October 6, 2008

Day three of homestay. I feel like I am getting more comfortable with my family. Certain things that happened in the first day or so gave me impressions of my family that were not entirely accurate. I am now able to get around the village by myself, not that I am ever really by myself, but if I had to, I could.

What do I mean by saying that I am never by myself? With the exception of my going to bed and locking the door to my room, there seems to always be someone around. If I can’t see them, it seems that they can see me. People watch us crazy Americans walk up and down the street: to school, to the top of the hill (or mountain, whatever you want to call it) for soccer, to the store, to our houses etc. Children follow us to speak English with us or just to stare. Most people stare, and they smile when you say hello in either Macedonian or Albanian. We are too new here to know the difference yet, I’m not sure there is more to the separation than language and loose adherence to opposing religions. You can’t tell either from a pacing glance.

Back to my homestay family. I live with Mitat, Razija, Arjad and Ferxhan. They are really awesome. Arjad is 17 and Ferxhan is 13 or 14? When I first got here, I thought Arjad had said he was 17 and Ferxhan was 16, but Razija showed me a picture of them as young boys and Arjad was 7 and Ferxhan was 3? All of our communication goes through Arjad, as he is the only one speaking English. When relatives pop in, some speak German, but not enough to go into details.

Mitat is great, he is very funny and friendly, he makes me feel less nervous. He lived and worked in Switzerland (I think) for 12 years so he understands what it is like to be in a strange country and not know the language. I must say, I’ve done pretty well in Macedonian for only being here a week, and I’ve picked up a bit of Albanian in the past 2 days as well. I can count and introduce myself. Voila!

My first night here I offered to help cook with Razija and to my surprise, she actually let me help. She took my hand and guided me through pouring oil and seasoning on potatoes and stirring them. The next day I was vacuuming the house. The night before, we had visited Ree’s host family (neighbors and relatives of my host family) and Ree’s host mother, said that Razija is happy to have a girl in her house since she has only two sons. So then I got a bit nervous that I would become surrogate daughter.

My paranoia was not helped by my first meeting of Mitat and Razija at the ever classy Hotel Satelit (SATEL-EET! Not ‘satellite’). I had Mitat pinned as a farmer and Razija was wearing a head scarf. I thought, oh no, they are very conservative. Nah. They are just like any other family I’ve ever met. Their sons spend most of their time on the computer/internet, chatting and playing Counterstrike, the version we played back in high school. It was so exciting to see them playing counter strike! Then I remembered that I never installed it on my laptop.  Razija only wears the scarf outside the house and she doesn’t seem to mind my wearing short sleeve shirts except that she keeps asking if im cold.
I really enjoy my homestay situation more and more, I think that Valentina did a great job matching personalities and interests between families and volunteers.


Anonymous said...

With all your blogging, you could send me one motherfucking email.

Gillian said...

heidi, dear, i never played Counterstrike in highschool. i don't even know what counterstrike is..hehe.