2 Weeks In.

Well, yesterday marked the 2 week mark for my time in BiH. So how am I doing? Read on!

Overall, I would say I am doing good. I get along with the people I have met, even if I can’t recall half the names. I have enough down pat that I can at least get money and food, and have a couple trusted people to ask stuff. I do feel pretty disconnected though. I guess I am a little homesick, but I would like to qualify it. I miss knowing what is going on around me. Which, I guess is homesickness anyway. lol.

I have enjoyed having the time alone this last week. I have really needed some solo time so it was nice. Thankfully, next week will be frought with activity, so I can go back to getting into things here. I am torn about my progess so far. On one hand, I think I am doing pretty good. 2 weeks in, no real issues. The anxious, way to self critical, part of me gets freaked out that I don’t have that much time, so I better get adjusted, get learning, and get familiar so that I can go home with a grand experience.

As I think I have mentioned before, the big stumbling block so far is language. Though, I taught myself 1-10 yesterday, and know a greeting or 2, I know I really have to start working so that I can do basic interactions without issues. I don’t even mind doing them sloppy, but having enough to say would be a good step.

I have been scrounging up some stuff to teach myself the language here. Lucio has a book that I will probably be able to borrow. I have been given a number of books and such already, but they are all only in local language. Fine practice I am sure, but when you haven’t got the basic vocabulary to know what the lesson is on… I just hope I can make a good go at it once I secure materials, and that its not just a good excuse. =-P

I do feel isolated outside of the language. I think it is because of the feelings of dependency, that I can’t do much without the help of someone else. It is hard to relax, and put that kind of blind faith in people. I find myself often to shy to ask people, or just confused. It makes sense that it feels awkward to be the only one who doesnt know their way around, but it still tires me. My goal before I leave is to know enough that I don’t feel isolated.

In light of the experiences of the people around me, I sometimes feel I have little to offer. The conversations haven’t relaxed into the point where they touch things I know about or have done. A lot of what I get now is the overview on different things. Valuable, but I don’t want to become the broken record of “Well, in the US…” So, I spend a lot of time listening. Its a very knew world for me, to be sure. My brain has been doing a good job sponging up all the experiences and insights people are offering me about the region. It would just be nice to have a talk on familiar ground. =-)

So, while my job hasn’t kicked in fully yet, I am learning a ton. I do see value in being marginilized. It’s too easy to forget how others feel. I feel like a little kid in a lot of ways, and a little lost, but I am still glad I am here. It is often remarkable to me the lessons you learn that you never considered. I already have a greater appreciation for how I view myself. Being out of your normal context does great things to instigate an internal dialogue. It is pretty interesting for me to have the internal conversation, and see what makes me me, even somewhere else.

Also isolating me a little is being the only one in the new experience. It’d be nice to have someone who doesn’t get it all to share the experience with. Luckily, I have had some good access to email and such, so I am able to share the experiences with people I know. =-) The trick is deciding how personal and deep I want to get.

This probably sounds pretty down, but don’t worry. Its more of a reflection than a cry for help, if you take my meaning. I don’t want you to think I am having a terrible time of it, but more that you see what sort of adjustments I am trying to make.

As I said, I work with some great people who are more than willing to help. Most of what I am ‘dealing with’ I think is natural for any move you make. I can remember how disconnected I felt moving to Vegas, then back to Chicago. Its fun to drive with people, because you get the free tour on what is going on. Another trip or 2 around town, I should be able to point out the sites! And I can’t wait for the laptop to be rolling. I am going to take some photos of traffic signs. It’s good fun for all.

Other fun is watching the way people act. Its subtle, but often different. I especially love it when people get disgusted. Some of the sounds of disgust are funny, and I can’t even pretend to describe them. And one of my favorites so far is from Anja. I asked what direction we were going and got “You Americans. Its always about the direction. Turn east here, turn north there. noise I don’t see what the importance is.” I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t explain why I felt it was important to know, anymore than I could explain my bafflement at the lack of street signs to Lucio. Honestly, of all the things American I thought would embarrass me, this one certainly didn’t occur to me.

Posted by Andrew     

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