Time to Catch Up 11.12.08


The village life is losing its charm and I can’t wait to move to Skopje. I love my host family and I do love Romanovce, but I’m really falling into such a lazy lifestyle that if I were here for 2 years, I doubt I would accomplish anything. My average day is:

-Alarm set for 6 or 6:30am.
-Actually get out of bed at 7am. Abuse of the snooze button is still a problem.
-Maybe shower if there is hot water or if my bangs look bad.
-Get dressed in whatever is clean, regardless of whether I wore it in the past day since most Macedonians wear the same thing everyday anyway.
-Rush downstairs by 7:30am for breakfast, which has been (with the exception of about 4 days total) scrambled eggs and ayvar, bread, margarine and chai (Russian tea). Most times my host mom is napping on the couch and I wake her up, she is cranky because she is not a morning person and she has lots of aches and pains.
-Rush down the hill to 8am class or to catch transportation to Kumanovo (at 815am to ensure I make it to Kumanovo, 4km away, by 9am). Class is a 10 minute leisurely walk. Transportation can mean the community kombi, a wild taxi driven by a husband of a lady I’ve met over coffee, or even just a free ride from friends or random strangers who are going to Kumanovo. The only way I have not gotten to Kumanovo is via cow or horseback, neither of which will be happening, sorry to burst that bubble.
- 4 hours of class learning pieces of Albanian or Macedonian, or 4 hours in Kumanovo doing mostly nothing. Either way, I feel tired and devoid of soul at the end. Practicum days bum me out more because I have nothing to show for my time spent in Kumanovo.
-Afternoons are spent ngosti-ing (ngosti is Macedonian for visit) or lounging at home. Maybe playing soccer. I don’t read, I don’t write blog entries. I don’t draw, listen to music, crochet or do anything. I zone out and I don’t feel too guilty anymore, which scares me. I don’t study language anymore either. Nichts.
-I go to bed at 10pm, +/- an hour. This is when I steal some alone time for movies, music or something, but I rarely make the most of it since I feel lazy and tired.
-Alarm set for 6 or 6:30am…. Life set on repeat.

Of course, there are days and nights that break the mold, like tonight. I had class at 12pm after practicum in Kumanovo. I spent last night at home doing nothing but chatting around the heater with my family, which while lovely, was not too exhilarating. Ree asked me to come to Kumanovo to go shopping, which turned into me having coffee with David while Ree shopped and then we met up with more volunteers at the ever American-friendly Irish Pub.

Over a few bottles of wine, mugs of Skopsko and cheese plates, we vented about our experiences so far and some people are at a low point. While we were discussing the issue of trash, a Canadian woman came over to us because she noticed we were speaking English and heard us talking about Macedonian culture. She herself is at least half Macedonian, and had married a Macedonian 4 years ago and lives in Bitola now. Her input really didn’t lighten the mood, which was already quite dour.

Her advice was to subsist. As a foreigner, you can’t change anything and the culture here works against the new.

I appreciate that she came and talked to us, but I do believe in very minute change. I also didn’t come here to single handedly change Macedonia into America #2, so I’m not at the rough spot that other people are feeling. I really came to learn languages and live abroad. The rest is a bonus. If my efforts positively impact Macedonia, excellent. If a handful of people realize that there is an alternative way to meeting basic human needs that might be better, cleaner, healthier, easier, anything- then ok, I did something. If a handful of people realize that people in America aren’t all millionaires, then that’s great too.

There more I get to know and partially understand Macedonian culture, I feel less guilty about some of my opinions of human nature and the best ways to manage societies. But I’ll leave that for another time and place, it’s a bit too much to share on a public blog meant to encourage cross cultural experience and other sunshine and rainbows.

No comments: