Friday, September 14, 2012

Month Anniversary!

    The plane touched down and I felt a sense of exhilaration like never before. I glanced out the window to see high mountains, lush trees, and old buildings. The flight attendant said something in Bosnian and my ears perked to a flurry of words I'd never heard before and, if I didn't realize it before, it hit me now. I was in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I had just flown across the United States, across the Atlantic Ocean, and across most of Europe. We got off the plane and the smells of a new place filled my nose. My eyes tried to take in every little thing and my ears tried to understand every word.
    We passed security and soon saw the people who I have come to love and appreciate more than ever. The people who have accepted me as their daughter or sister or American student. The people who have taught me the simplest words and bore through my broken language skills. The people who have guided me along. Those who I have laughed with and those who I will be seeing for an awful long time.

    Today marks my one month of living in Sarajevo. In this one month, I feel like this has been the most educational and incredible experience I have lived. People from every background imaginable have become my friends and school is a blessing in disguise with all sorts of kids. Through these people, I have learned all about a new lifestyle.
    How eating is practically a religion and you do not skimp. Ever.
    How coffee is the link between you and friends.
    How the TV is almost always on.
    How college ruled notebooks are about as foreign as I am.
    How public transportation can make you get really used to people practically hugging you.
    And above all, this exchange has taught me so far that the world is full of all sorts of places and people that are as curious about you as I am about them. They have pleasantly surprised me with their customs and I surprise them. Sometimes I even surprise myself (like how American high schools are actually quite alike to the high schools in movies). I have loved this past month and I am so excited to live here for the next school year.

    I came here on a hot, sunny day in August and now I sit in my room looking at the nonexistent scenery because the fog and the rain are covering it. I look forward to the many new things I will learn, the people I will meet, and the adventures I will be a part of. I am excited to learn the language, eat their food, and, above all, become a Bosnian!

   And so, my first month is over, but I have nine more to go! Nine months of learning, friends, and adventures. I am excited beyond words.

   Anyway, it's Friday evening and I think it's time to socialize.

   Until later news,

Medina and the Monkeys :)

Emma being cool.

Ready... ready...

OH MY GOSH DELICIOUS FOOD. Chicken and po-tay-toes :)
Uh... Irfan?
We couldn't find our Bosnian class...
Sliva (prounced sh-lee-va - aka plum) jam!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

English, Bosanski, and RAIN

    Today we finally had our first, true day of school. It started off full of confusion on our American group part, but soon after checking our schedule for the week, we were grouped with people in our math class and then sent upstairs to our room (I'm guessing our homeroom?). Because we were grouped by Math class, Savannah and Helena were with me as we followed some new friends into a room with about twenty or so other kids. First two periods were both English class with our coordinator, Tomo! Mainly he told us about the IB exam at the end of next school year, but then he followed with making us do introductions. Most of our class was, indeed, Bosnian. But we soon found an Irish girl and a Spaniard (and I think there was also an Italian?) which was cool. It's interesting to me though, because in the States, when there is an exchange student, they are smothered with kids thinking they are the coolest kids in the world. Here, not so much. Mostly people asking us, "Why on earth did you come to Bosnia?" It's cool though.
    After introductions and checking out our class for the next year, our teachers switched and we began Bosnian class. Now, SHAKE is taking beginning Bosnian class, but our teacher was unable to come this week, therefore Tomo said to just stay in the Bosnian class for Bosnians. The kids who weren't native Bosnian speakers left for self-taught classes, except us. The teacher entered the room and, before I knew it, Bosnian was being spoken and I could pick out a few words such as "book" or a number. At one point, the teacher went around asking for names (thank goodness I knew what she was doing) and when it got to be I said my name in the clearest way I could and then Savannah followed and she looked back at us and said something in Bosnian. A boy in the back yelled up, "One su amerikanke!" And she looked back at us and said, "Oh Americans! New students then?" and Savannah and I just nodded and she simply nodded back and went on to the next student. Then a few minutes later, the teacher said something to me, supposedly, and I looked up at her confused and the same boy from earlier said, "Just smile and say yes!" I turned back to him, "Yes? What am I saying yes to?" He laughed, "Just say it!" I turned back to the teacher and said, "Uh, da?" The entire class laughed and I am still clueless as to what I said yes to... maybe one day I'll find out.
    When Bosnian class was finished, we all headed out to American Councils for a quick meeting, followed by a coffee break and then a lovely walk home in the pouring rain.
    Oregon. I sometimes miss you.
    When I arrived home, I was completely soaked and I don't think I have ever walked home that fast yet. I also realized that I should probably buy an umbrella very soon. A very pretty, small umbrella just for me. If it continues to rain, at least I get to finally wear my multitude of sweaters. Random fact of the day: I love fall weather/clothes/feeling. I just love fall.

     Anyway, I leave you with a picture of my final picture on the front porch that my mother has made me do since kindergarten. To conclude 13 years of education, the last picture:

    Until more shenanigans,

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Day of School?

    Today was technically the first day of school. I got dressed up in my first day of school garb and had the whole nervous, excited feeling that I usually get. My bus got me to school a half hour before our orientation was to begin and out of all of SHAKE, I was the first to arrive. I sat at the front gate, twiddling my thumbs and randomly checking my phone which everyone does when they don't want to seem like a loner. About ten to 11, Helena, Emma, and Anna came into view and we were soon joined with Andrea (who was an exchange student with YES last year) and Ana (who is from Austria). Soon we congregated in front of the school doors with tons of other students and it looked like we were the only ones who were desperately confused. We huddled by the doors as Savannah joined us and finally the doors burst open and everyone started filing in. We followed everyone in and noticed that the majority of students headed up to classrooms, while a select few stayed in the foyer. The school coordinator, Tomo, found us and told us to stay with the smaller group as he announced what was going to happen.
    He began to call attendance and we all realized that he knew every one of the kids from our smaller group and every kid knew each other. Except us. Us seven stayed in a little uncertain huddle while he called them off and they began walking down a hallway to the gym. Soon, all the kids were gone and he turned towards us and said, "And you five, let's go." We all looked at each other uncertainly and headed down the long hallway to the gym. Tomo went to the front of the gym and rallied everyone together as he welcomed us all to the IB Program and he was happy to see all of our faces again. He then turned to us Americans and he said, "As you may have noticed, we have five new girls who are all from America!" and while he continued to explain that schedules had to be redone because of teachers transferring, us Americans glanced around the room, taking in our classmates for the next year. After explaining the schedule situation, he looked over at us and said, "Americans, don't worry. You already did this awhile ago."
    Following the introduction of our homeroom teachers and the new Chemistry teacher, Tomo said that he would see us tomorrow at noon and we could all go home. SHAKE all looked at each other like this was the strangest thing. We could actually leave? We were at school for, what? Twenty minutes? Andrea then invited us to go out for coffee with a guy in the IB program, so we all shrugged our shoulders and headed out for coffee. Which then lead to SHAKE going down to Bascarsija and scoring when we found the best pekara (bakery) ever and then took our pita/sandwich/brownie-jam-thing to a park where there is a giant chess board! We watched some elderly men play chess and one man came up to us and asked if we were here to find husbands. After assuring him that we were not here to get married, Helena and I headed out shopping! Which was my first actual shopping trip!

   So the low down of my first day as a Senior? BEST. DAY. EVER. I understand classes will get difficult and soon I'll have to concentrate more on all my classes instead of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, and my blog, but as for now, Bosnian school is definitely looking up.

   Anyway, I should be heading off to get my sleep before school tomorrow.

   Until new adventures and discoveries,

P.S. Sorry about no pictures. Today was such a conundrum that I didn't even think about taking pictures!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Scary Thoughts

    Guess what people!? I start my senior year on MONDAY. Monday. It doesn't feel like I'm supposed to be graduating in 10 months. It doesn't feel like I'm supposed to go off to college in a year. Now I wish I listened to all my teachers during Freshman year when they'd say, "Don't slack on choosing colleges! You need to think about it right now!" but of course, as a freshman, you think that thinking about colleges that early is silly and not important. Then you hit sophomore year and still believe you have a lot of time.
    And then Junior year comes. All of a sudden, freakout time hits you and you think, "Oh no. I haven't thought about college at all. Do I want to major in that? What if I won't really like that?" And then you reach the brink that I am currently balancing on. About to start my Senior year abroad, having to fill college applications for places I can't even visit, and worry about my counselor not getting back to me with the link to my online government and economics class.
     Graduating to me, while the thought is exciting and thrilling, is a very scary thought. Thinking about graduating and being officially done with standard school is strange. I've always liked school. I liked the friends, the classes, the teachers, and the smell of the hallway on the first day. While I do like summer and free time, I've always just really enjoyed school. Will this feeling remain when I move on to college and eventually my career? School prepares you for life, I suppose. I guess you think it'd be more of a softer let go instead of a boot out the door.
      So yeah, beginning my senior year in exactly two days and a couple hours (I start at 11am... wha...) is a little daunting. Not to mention it's my senior year in Bosnia, which is the scariest thing. I know a max of four people in my school. My fellow SHAKE members (SAVANNAH IS HERE. OH MY GOSH SAVANNAH IS HERE. YAY) and that is all. People called me crazy going into this program. Out of all the years to apply, why my senior year? Why skip out on prom? Why have graduation date and departure date flirt with each other to see if I'm going to be able to walk? Why chance me still getting an Honors diploma? Why, you all ask? Because I'm just a little bit crazy and the world is a little bit mysterious and leaving my family and friends for a year is a little bit exciting to discover so many incredible things that, some time ago, I didn't even know existed. That's why.

    On a side note! We finished our language camp today! With Anna's help I was finally able to understand cases. English nor French have cases, which are the only two languages I know. Anna and Helena understood cases because they studied German. Emma caught on to it really fast. As for me? I struggled with Bosnian. But I have a Disney "Uci Engleski" (Learn English, but can be used to learn Bosnian) picture book with plenty of words for me to learn. I'm excited to read that book. The other day I was able to *decently* talk to my host mom and ask her some questions, like if I need to ride the bus that morning or if I was able to get a ride. Whenever I speak Bosnian, Nizama always smiles and is happy to talk back to me.

    So here I am, preparing for my final year of high school and diving in to a completely different lifestyle. Scary, but exciting.

    Anyway, here are some pictures of what I've been up to these past couple days:
Folk Music Concert!

    Until school starts!