Saturday, August 18, 2012

Four Days Later... And you know nothing...

    Being a bad blogger is kind of sad. I mean, how hard can it really be to write about your life? Let me tell you, it's a lot harder than it's cracked up to be. You don't want to tell people every detail, but you don't want to do what I did in my last entry and tell them that I'm simply alive and in Bosnia. You want to make it short and sweet and informative. So here we go. A breakdown of the past few days.

   Day of arrival: From the moment I left the airport, there was a visible difference. And I'm not just speaking of the airport parking lot which is about a tenth of the size of PDX.
 Esad, Nizama, Medina, and I packed into the car, (after somehow managing to fit my nearly overweight and oversized suitcases.) snapped on my seatbelt, and headed home! But not before stopping at some places to pick up food for my first meal. I wish I grabbed my camera to take a picture of this place because it was SO cool, but I was in a little daze. It looked like a really old, really destroyed outdoor mall/shopping center except all the stores were filled to the brim with fresh produce. It looked cluttered and crowded, but the people were all so nice and it seemed like everyone knew each other. We then drove a little farther up to buy cevapi (pronounced cheh-vap-ee. My computer won't do the stupid accent on the c)! The smell was amazing as it filled the car and then we began our ascent to my home for the next ten months.
This is not my home :) This is the drive from the airport TO my home .
    The drive up was beautiful and amazing and different. It was almost like sensory overload though, don't get me wrong. Slowly we climbed the mountain (which everyone tells me it's in the center of town because that's where Sarajevo was first made, but on the map I'm at the edge) and the view continued to get more and more beautiful. And the driving up there made me glad I was wearing a seatbelt. And the seatbelt made Medina laugh at me. She looked over and said, "I noticed you wearing the seatbelt. Nobody wears them here. It's just kind of, pfftt." She flicked it with her finger and, sure enough, no one was wearing seat belts. I caught glimpses of other drivers. No seat belts. The roads were narrow (like they are all over Europe) and the drivers a little more daring, but seat belts were like a useless item. Now I'm getting into the habit of not even touching them. Should be interesting going home in June...
    Upon my arrival at home, Mugdim and Irfan were there to greet me and take my bags up to my room (hallelujah). They brought me up to my room and they opened the door, and not going to lie, it felt like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (except with no camera crew inside). I walked in and my eyes got big and a smile crossed my face. The yellow walls were comforting and the wooden ceiling, desk, wardrobe (oh yes, I said a wardrobe), floor and bookshelf just made my room feel like a nice cabin. I have a gorgeous rug on my floor and some beautiful paintings on my wall. (And yes, mother, I will take pictures. Don't worry.)
    I then headed downstairs for my first meal! Cevapi with tomatoes, plums, and jogurt. 
CEVAPI! (sweet meat, onions or sauerkraut, and a giant pita.)
It was all delicious, I was just so excited that I could hardly eat anything. Plus Bosnian meals are for typical, full-grown, American males. Not for a 17 year old girl. My family eats in the living room and Nizama joked with me that it was like a picnic because she usually cooks and today she didn't have to.  Dinner was a lot of fun and Irfan made fun of me when I would point to food and ask what it was in Bosnian. Having older brothers, I know that teasing means I'm already part of the family. And I feel like it. It's so comfortable and they are just the sweetest people.

    Medina then gave me a tour of the house (except the basement which remains the current mystery). The bottom floor is pretty much the entrance and then Medina and Mugdim's suite. Second floor is the main living space. Kitchen, extra room used for food storage, bathroom, living room, and Esad and Nizama's room. And the balcony. And that balcony leads out to the most beautiful view I have ever seen a house have. I don't think I'll ever get used to how gorgeous their view is:

   After eating, watching some Bosnian TV, and talking with Medina, Mugdim, and Irfan and then having them translate for Nizama and Esad. Nizama and Esad are so sweet and I can't help but feel so much guilt that I didn't try to learn more Bosnian. Hopefully within the next couple weeks I'll be able to. Once my internet was hooked up, courtesy of Irfan, I quickly sent everyone a notice that I was alive and well (because I know that if one of my friends who I talk to everyday didn't post something on Facebook for three days, they were likely to be dead). After spending some time with the host family listening to and watching Bosnian TV, and unpacking my overloaded suitcases, I decided it was best I be off to bed. At three in the afternoon... which resulted in me waking up again at 7pm... and then again at 3am... and then finally at 5am and I decided sleep wasn't going to happen.

    Day 2! Headed downstairs for breakfast and because it was so early (I waited until 7am to go downstairs because I doubted anyone would be up. As soon as I heard some activity, I couldn't wait) and Nizama was the only one up. We then went through a game of charades and pointing, saying yes or no, and laughs to decide what I wanted for breakfast. My first breakfast was eggs, bread (one piece with cheese and meat and another with honey), and milk. Doesn't sound that big, but I couldn't finish it! One thing about eating bread here. You don't have a little slice and call it good. You have a piece about an inch or two thick and then lather it in meat or cheese, jam or Nutella (OH MY GOSH I LOVE IT).
    An hour or so later, Nizama and Esad took me to the American Councils were I felt so sad again that I couldn't talk with them. But that didn't stop them from joking with me and trying to make me understand. At the American Councils office, HAKE (because Savannah isn't here.) had our orientation and then we took of for our school (skola) where we met Tomo who is our school coordinator. He is a really nice guy and he joked with us a lot. Two hours later, we found ourself back in our hot school for our first language class. It was at least 100ºF in there with no air-conditioning and jet lag was kicking in on overdrive. By the end of what should have been a fairly easy class turned us to look like this by the end:
l-r Helena, Emma, and Anna
    At the end of class, I thought I would be able to go home, eat, and then go into a coma. Instead I was picked up by Medina and Mugdim and we headed out to Baščaršija -> aka Old Sarajevo! It's an incredible place and has a very strong Turkish influence. And that is where I had my first cup of coffee! Well... Bosnian coffee :) SO GOOD. So strong... but amazing.
    It was then time for home, we ate and then I crashed.

   Day 3: I'm going to start giving you less detail and just start speeding through things. Day 3 (August 16) consisted of finishing up Orientation and getting our White Cards! Which technically means we are legally allowed to stay here for a year! Yay! After we headed up to the Twist Tower for an amazing view of Sarajevo! So many exclamation points!
    Following lunch and coffee, we headed for language class which is slowly getting better. For everyone who thinks they stink at a language, I feel your pain. Once language class was over, we were interviewed for a TV station which was definitely a new experience. I was the only one who was asked to speak some Bosnian, so I decided on the two sentences that I've been practicing for the past six months. Irfan then picked me up and showed me around Sarajevo. When we stopped for coffee at Tito, it started to pour. Like, thunder, lightning, get-completely-drenched-if-you-dare-to-enter-it type pour. Mugdim had to eventually pick us up and once we were home we had "pie" which they call "pita" which is pretty much a giant pastry stuffed with cheese or meat or potatoes. SO GOOD. And in the time it took me to eat one piece, Irfan had already eaten three and was wanting more.

    Day 4: After another interview for the newspaper, we headed out to the Museum! Absolutely gorgeous place and the art and the artifacts are stunning. I honestly wanted some of that jewelry from behind the cases. Too bad it's priceless and as soon as I touched it, it would crumble. Outside of the museum was the beautiful Botanical Garden with more tombstones and gorgeous trees and flowers. We then went out for lunch with a lady from the Embassy named Sunshine! During lunch, we were interviewed for another TV station. All these interviews make me feel like some celebrity and I'm enjoying every second of my five minutes of fame. We were then sent of to language class and then Medina picked me up to show me how to use the bus! Little unknown fact: Public transportation is like, the one thing I will never use. I think it's unsanitary and confusing and there's weird people. Now, while it was really hot and it smelled like BO (because of the heat), everyone is very courteous of your space and the bus drivers are extremely nice! The driver today stopped the bus so he could talk to his friend on the road. Being late does not exist in Bosnia, I've noticed. At home we ate stew which was delicious and later, all of us were outside watching the sunset, talking over coffee and slowly I was able to make out a few words.

    Day 5: TODAY! Which means I'm generally caught up. We had language class this morning which I could feel myself thinking faster to answer questions and looking less at my notes. While I do have homework, I'm not too worried because this weekend is Biram/Iftar/End of Ramadan! So we don't have classes until Tuesday! When class was over, I took the bus home. All by myself. I'm not even going to lie, I am extremely proud of myself. Because it was Saturday, not many people were on the bus and it was just nice. I don't think I'll mind riding the bus as much as I think I would.
     As for now, I'm heading off for Iftar with Helena, Emma, Anna, Selma, our coordinator, and Irfan. I am excited to experience this and hopefully I will keep you more in the loop for when things happen. Perhaps then I won't leave you with a giant entry that may bore you to death.

    Anyway, time to go!

    Until there is more news to tell,


  1. great post! Bosnia sounds amazing!

  2. Good job, Kate. Your detail doesn't bore me, but then, I am your mother! I like your description of Medina and the seatbelt! Pfft! Does every European do that?

    1. Not wear a seatbelt? As far as I've seen, nobody wears them. We had to wear them once because we went in the American Embassy van to get our white cards and we had to abide to American laws. But other than that, nope/