This year, I have decided to take a gap year/study abroad year with AFS. I am leaving in September for Bosnia.. yes the Bosnia that just had a war...and yes the Bosnia where no one has any idea where it is. I want to devote this blog to my adventures before, during and after my year away!
One reason I was very excited to come to BiH was because of the snow. Growing up in SF, there is no snow. Normal California weather.
Here, there is snow. I mean a lot of snow. Significant amounts of snow.
And you know what I learned? I hate snow. I hate it. It is wet, cold, wet, cold, and annoying. Seriously. I've been wearing layers and layers of clothing. I don't even remember what the sun looks like. It's depressing. You know what I did in December in CA last year? I went to the beach. You know what I did this year? I sat. I sat and I read and I read and I cooked and I cooked some more. It's like Julia Child up in here.
I'm serious. It's painful.
I hate the snow. I mean, I can handle small small small amounts of the snow. You know what is the most frustrating now? We have this weird snow, spring weather. Like it'll look like spring, we will get all excited about spring then BOOM. WHAT'S UP SNOW. Snow, don't you know it's April? Don't you know that I'm supposed to be wearing sweaters NOT HEAVY COATS? I'm sorry that you feel like you need to finish whatever it is that you do but really? I miss the sun. I miss warmth. I miss the beach. IT'S MAKING ME VERY ANGRY.
I, Alexandra Able, am going to be a.......(Dramatic Pause) University of Mississippi Rebel!
Yes, I am moving from California to Bosnia to California to Mississippi.
I may have a problem about staying still in one place but hey, I'm young and not pregnant, so hey. YOLO.
I am so excited to become a rebel. How I found out is the best story. So my parents got the letter in the mail, and they tried to get a hold of me but because of the 9 hour difference, I was asleep. So I woke up at 6:00 AM with this mass amounts of texts and congrats. I called my parents and we read the letter, while I was still half asleep. It was the most exciting news to get. Then I got to go to school and tell all my friends about it, which was also exciting.
It was a great day. and I am so excited to go to college.
Mau is the best host sister in the world. Seriously, we are two oposite people. But we work so freakin' well. We compliment each other so well and she is like this unspoken rock. I mean, if I have a bad day, she's there. If she has a bad day, I'm there. We hang out in each others rooms, have sister dates, watch movies and just hang out. It is the best set up in the world. She and I are both going through the same things, miss our families the same, and miss our dogs.
It's awesome. Anyone who can, should have two host students. It makes the year for us, just a bit easier.
Finding out about the Connecticut school shooting on, and this is how ridiculous my life is by the way, greek news.
No joke. I was at work with my kiddo and they have Greek TV, greek people with greek news normal normal stuff, and I walked in with this big picture of the kids leaving the school. It was the most surreal moment. I mean here I am, in Bosnia, watching the greek news about this tragedy.
It was a weird moment for me. Not a good weird but a weird weird.
Part of being an exchange student is you have to explain all sorts of things about your country. Well since the US has states and a collective country, people want to know about both. Mostly the collective US, but sometimes the states.
Anyways, I had to give a presentation about California and different things that CA produces, what we do, etc. I discovered some things:
1. The population of CA is like 3 times, or more, the population of Bosnia. So when I was giving the facts, I became very quite when I said the population of CA. Everyone in my class laughed and just sort of put it off the side in their brains. It was very weird...
2. CA has more of an economy than Bosnia does. Now I did not share the information with m wonderful Bosnians, but when I was sharing information about CA Grow and Marin Organic, it was very weird for me. I mean my state, which is a big one, is a little bit special but I felt very weird sharing the information.
3. CA is really cool and I'm really glad that my parents raised me there.
After the presentation, which I was very very nervous for, everyone in my class told me what a good job I did and how much they learned. It was very satisfying for everyone to tell me that they actually learned something that I worked on. It's like when I'm tutoring my kiddo. When he understands something or gets something, I get this really great feeling.
Maybe it is a sign for my political future... Senator maybe?
This New Year's was really fun. Ivana, some friends and I went to an awesome concert series that played Serbian and English songs which was so fun. It's weird, sometimes it takes me a long while to figure out if they are singing in Serbian or in English, to hear american/british songs sung with an eastern european accent. When ever I go to a cafe bar or some concert, they will sometimes sing english songs and they sound just like them except a few words you can really hear the accent. Especially words with 'th', 'q', 'wh', 'w' or 'h'. It's kinda funny to hear.
Anyways, new years! New years was fun! Ivana and I got dressed together and her mom did my makeup. We went very girly and it was fun. After the concert we went and got Krompirusha and yogurt.
Let me just explain Krompirusha and yogurt. It's like peanut butter and jelly. Or nutella and peanut butter. I mean it's just amazing. Krompirusha is this little potato pie and you eat it with drinkable yogurt. It's just so amazing. Ivana's mom is going to teach me how to make it because I cannot imagine my life without it. It's like my new food love. It's a little sad, but it's also amazing. I am going to find a bosnian restaurant back in the states, just so I can eat this dish.
Basically I'm in love. I'm like one of those sad foodie women that falls in love with food. and it's great. no regrets.
Ivo Andrić is this Bosnian writer that wrote a book called Na Drini Ćuprija, The Bridge on the Drina. It won all of these awards and he is basically the most famous Bosnian individual ever.
What gets me is that people are IN LOVE with this guy. In my Croatian Literature class we spent a week on Ernest Hemingway, William Falkner and some other writers. All in one week but we spent time on like 5 writers. Then, we started talking about Ivo Andrić. I am not kidding, we spent about a month on Ivo Andrić. One month on one guy and beside that the elementary school is named Ivo Andrić and there are streets named Ivo Andrić and pictures of him. Everywhere. Everywhere I am reminded of this guy. I mean I know in the states, we have people like this and god knows, we show our devotion to them but I mean the love that they have for this writer constantly surprises me. Before you take the stairs in my school, there is a picture of him. And not just a little picture, a sizable picture of his face.
My life feels no different than it would when I was home, California. I celebrated a christmas on December 25th & January 7th.
My host family is not very religious and they don't have many traditions so I don't really know what we do until we actually do it. Which is fun for me, because my family family is full of traditions that we have to follow every year.
25th: My wonderful California family sent a package of christmas presents and I thought it was going to arrive a few days later, but it didn't! It arrived on christmas morning, it was like something out of a christmas movie. They sent presents for me, my host family and my cute little tutor child( this is my new name for him). They sent me these beautiful earrings of downton SF, an infinity bracelet, a flag of California and some Ole Miss Swag. It was great to get anything from them on christmas, especially such beautiful presents.
My host parents got me leg warmers and Mau got me a beautiful picture of us in this great frame.
7th: Mau was gone, some friends from San Marino had come to visit their grandma and took her to the country side, so it was my host parents and I. This was like real life christmas. On the 25th, stores and everyone here just went sort of lame, this is where everyone here strived. The center was all decorated with beautiful lights and posters every where. There were some traditions that we did fulfill, my host mon made this bread and stuck 20 cents in it and we all tore the bread apart, the point was to see who would find the money and who ever did has luck for the whole year. Well, guess who found the money? This chick right here. She also made her own incense the kind you use in church, and went around the house spreading the incense like, blessing the house. This was weird for me because I was under the impression that only priests could bless the house. Here it was a bit different, I've noticed that church and religion is very important, but they have learned to do a lot of things without the use of priests. Maybe it's a war time thing. I may be naive by saying that, blaming all differences on the war, but it's kind of true. I mean most differences are because they were locked somewhere or held up in their houses because if they left they would be shot. Not so much in BL but in other parts of the republic and defiantly in the federation.
Overall, I really had a good time on both christmases. I wasn't too homesick, I felt comfy and it was fun.