Goodbyes, Farewells, Hellos, and Reverse Culture Shock

The past couple of weeks have been an emotionally numbing process. It all started with my school’s “goodbye party”. They threw me a goodbye party about a two weeks before I was leaving the country and a week before I was leaving the school. One of my favorite classes organized the party and actually did a bake sale fundraiser for the entire party. They decorated the teacher’s lounge and had delicious bread and cheese to go with the the festivities. Two of the star English students gave a speech in Albanian and English about me. I didn’t cry because I was already too numb at that point.

The eighth grade students who arranged the celebration:

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The two students that gave a speech and the decorations:

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I was absolutely shocked at the surprise and kindness of everyone. They truly made me feel special and appreciated that day!

Then, one of my counterparts brought out a cake they got for me. I have always been called a “Queen” at my school and here they brought me a crown and everything. It was a cake indeed fit for a queen! I thought the cake was worthy of a wedding.

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Here’s a photo of this eighth grade class and I at the celebration:

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Here’s a photo of all the teachers that came to my surprise good-bye party:

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There were several students that got emotional. I was really sad how numb I was. I couldn’t show my emotions. This detachment was a big part of the end of my service.

During my last week I went to the satellite school, Kallnik and they threw me a birthday party.  I ate a cake with Jake’s and my face on it. It felt odd eating myself but it was so thoughtful!

A cake with myself on it:

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During that one week in Kallnik I was able to, with the help of the geography teacher, the assistant director, and four students create a world map on the wall of the school. These are the pictures with the world in process throughout the week. It took 9 hours to create with all of their help.

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Saying goodbye to all of the amazing people in Macedonia was harder than saying goodbyes in high school and college combined. These amazing people have touched my heart in such a special and rare way. I hope to see many of them in the future, but it is so hard to predict where I will find myself in the years to come.

i was also surrounded with love by so many peace corps volunteers and friends recently with my birthday. Jake and Bonnie threw me a surprise karaoke party the weekend before I flight back and on my birthday I was able to spend my birthday with so many amazing Peace Corps Volunteers.

This last Thursday I hopped on a plane back to the United States. I was so drained and numb. I had a travel partner, Tara, which made the journey so much more enjoyable. Her and I got delicious pretzels and brats in Munich for a layover and kept each other’s company on the long flight to Phili. Finally, 24 hours later I was in my bed in my home in Fort Collins Colorado.

Since then I have packed up a lot of my belongings and have driven through Utah on my way to Las Vegas for my job. Today I am going to move into my brand-new apartment and tomorrow I will starting at my elementary school in Las Vegas as a first grade teacher.

Reverse Culture Shock:

Positives:

  1. Everyone is so nice here. The waiters are overwhelmingly on top of it; I am honestly I am going to tip too much all the time because I am easily impressed after Macedonia’s terrible service at restaurants.
  2. Everyone is super polite and friendly. I made friends on my flight to Denver from Phili. This older couple wanted to hear all about my service and I was just in shock how genuine they were. Also people say “sorry” and “thank you” ALL THE TIME. I am overwhelmed with these phrases and I forgot what to say in response.
  3. The hearty food is AMAZING. The bacon, the steak, the wonderful gushers and huge assortment of candy is heaven.
  4. I am able  to see my parents. I love having them right by my side right now, i know they are just a phone call away instead of a message, wait and hour (if they are awake) skype.
  5. I will be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family for the first time in over 2 years.

Negatives:

  1. The fruits and veggies in the United States thus far suck. Serious, everything has no flavor. I am going to have to find a farmer’s market pronto in Vegas.
  2. The bread here is also not good. I will need to find fancy bread for a while.
  3. There is too much going on. I feel overwhelmed with my sensors when I walk into a grocery store or even a gas station right now. How come there are 10 brands of milk? One of my PCV friends, Sara told me when she came back for two weeks she was so overwhelmed in the grocery store she walked in and grabbed something off the shelf and then ran out. I feel the exact same way.
  4. Everything is so gosh darn expensive. Seriously, why?????
  5. I am not allowed to stare at people the same way. I still find myself starring…I was at the Village Inn last night (best bacon and hash browns thus far) and I kept starring at a couple. I have to watch out because I am turning into a creeper.

Neutral:

  1. I find myself speaking Albanian and Macedonian at inappropriate times. Kelly, nobody knows those languages here (okay some do, but not many).
  2. There is a shaking of the index finger that locals do and I find myself doing. It’s rude to do in the states, but perfectly natural in Macedonia.
  3. My mother thinks this is a bad habit I have picked up, but I keep throwing toilet paper in the trash cans. Can the plumbing really handle toilet paper in America? Can it?
  4. You have to drive everywhere…can’t I just walk to the Pazar now?

Well, the reverse culture shock to be continued until next time…See ya later!

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