A New Way of Life

Last week I moved to the city near my village. I can’t go into details why this happened, but my life has been changing pretty dramatically. Now, I find myself in a upper floor of a house with my own kitchen, bathroom, and room. The area is wonderfully spacious and I have complete control over my diet.

I will hopefully run in the Skopje Half-Marathon in May so I have been trying to get back into shape. I have been waking up early and going on 10 km runs to get myself pumped about running again. The teachers at my elementary school in my village are on strike right now so I find myself with a lot more time than I did this past semester. My days have been filled with running, working out in my room, baking, cooking, and enjoying life in a city.

This morning I have a large glass of homemade orange juice and listening to the call to prayer. The silence in this floor was an adjustment. I have never lived on my own and my outgoing personality is trying to adjust to this so much me time. I have been discovering the joy of reading once again and also just people watching and sipping a cup of warm tea. I feel more relaxed and stress-free than I have in all of my service.

The past month has been a world-wind of events from Christmas to New Years in Vienna to having my parents come visit me in Macedonia to moving. I was able to spend Christmas weekend with Jake and savor the glorious company of a best friend. Then I traveled to Vienna, Austria and celebrated New Years. I rang in the New Year by Waltzing for the first time with thousands of people surrounding me. Sadly that night my wallet was stolen from me, which had a lot of cash in it. After I got over that accident, I enjoyed Vienna with the Christmas Markets, flea markets, sacher tortes (chocolate apricot cake), brats, and delicious Mexican (yesssssss I got Mexican in Vienna, sometimes you get desperate and need real chips and salsa).

My parents met me in Vienna. Seeing their smiling and exhausted faces at the Vienna airport made me gloriously happy. It was amazing to be reunited with my parents. I couldn’t believe it had been a year and five months. I was so in shock to see them that I couldn’t express tears of joy. After a whirlwind of a couple days in Vienna I held their hands (metaphorically, though there was handholding happening throughout their visit) and showed them Macedonia for a whirlwind of 10 days. I was able to show them my two villages, my two schools, my big city, the capital, lake matka (a wonderous lake), kratovo (where Jake lives and the legendary pastramika is devoured), rromanli (my PST (Pre-Service Training) host family), and all my counterparts and host families.

I got a gift I never thought would be possible. I got to see the world, I have lived in now for a year and five months, through the eyes of my parents. This gift I will always appreciate the rest of my life. There are so many things to say about my parents’ trip. The power of controlling the travel plan (I forgot that I wasn’t traveling solo anymore) and the pure curiosity of what my parents thought of absolutely everything. It took me half the visit to adjust to traveling with my parents. The previous summer I had the amazing Sheryl Burt visit me, and she road on as I plowed through Macedonia and Greece. Thank you mom and dad for visiting me. It meant the world to me. I don’t think I would be happy and healthy right at this moment if you weren’t there by my side for those 10 days. You gave me the strength I needed.

I may be an adult now, but I am very dependent on my parents’ emotional support (and some financial boost…we won’t go into those details though). Dropping my parents off at the shuttle to the airport their final day in the country I found myself completely speechless with amazement. My parents were leaving me as soon as they came. I felt completely alone in this world. The urge to cry overcame me and I walked away knowing that my Peace Corps life will continue without my parents with me physically.

The next weekend my parents and I doing our weekly skype date I find myself eternally grateful that they understand my experience to a level where I really do feel like they get it. I love when my mom corrects me and says, “We understand a small amount of what you have endured.” And that small amount means the world to me. Advice: If you are ever in the Peace Corps, have your parents come visit.

As I finish this tall glass of orange juice, I think I am going to take a stroll through the falling snow. The next four months are the most important in my service because these are the months I will be implementing my SPA project, working with my teachers on unit lesson planning, and try to make the most out of my last full semester of school.

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