Monday, October 29, 2012

Best Present a PCV Could Ask For

So there are millions of things right now I need to blog about, especially since it has been awhile, and I was all set to write a post today. I had picked out my topic and started thinking about what I was going to write while I was getting ready for school this morning. However, this is Macedonia, and things change last minute all the time.

When I got to school today, my head was busy spinning with a list of things I needed to accomplish today, but I was stopped in my tracks by a package at my spot in the teacher's lounge. I had received a package from America. I saw that it came from St. Peter and got very excited. While I love packages and letters from anywhere, getting one from the St. Peter Rec is extra exciting because you never know what will be included, but it is always awesome.

I couldn't contain my enthusiasm and ripped into the package right away.

I feel so lucky to still be a part of the Rec Staff even when I live 5000+ miles away!
They made it Anders. You beat the Rec Staff and they didn't eat my treats.
I haven't tried them yet Cado, but if you like them, I am sure I will too! In the process of writing, I got hungry. They are delicious Cado! Good choice.
Seemed only fitting to show off my new MN stapler next to my MN Twins pennant that was passed down by a MN PCV who is leaving shortly.

It took me a little bit to figure out what it spelled (in my first attempt I spelled the words: women, is, and Sara, but there were letters left over. Then I realized there was a sheet of paper included telling me what it spelled.)
I have new door decorations courtesy of Create-A-Camp (or that's my guess!)
I am sure to stay healthy now.
Kids' writing is the best ever. Thanks Cado. I miss you and wish you could come hang out in Macedonia with me!
 I discovered all of this while I was at school. Totally great care package. However, there was also a flashdrive in it and I didn't fully discover the greatness this package contained until I got home and opened up the flashdrive. On it, was a letter from a friend, some audio books and a new CD, and the most amazing folder ever: "Friends at Home and Abroad".

I received photo messages from about 30 of my best friends and family back home. You couldn't ask for a better gift. To any PCV parents/friends out there looking for an idea to send your PCV, this tops the list as best things ever.

I would love to include all the photo messages on here, but there is at least one that contains a secret. But I will include a few examples so you understand just how awesome these were to receive.
St. Peter Rec Staff- Part A
John and Lindsey in Florida
Siu On in Australia
Anders: Creator of this
Lindz: No longer an Austin resident

Part of the Pizza Pub Family
This is just the start of my thank you to you all.
- Anders: Thank you so much for putting this together for me. It really is the best gift I could have been given. I am hoping to avoid having to eat too many organs this year.
- Dad: Well, you have come and gone and hopefully the pivo was cool enough for you!
- PC Pizza Crew: You guys are the best family a girl could ask for. I promise that while I may not stay in Pine for long when I return, I will come enjoy a Friday night with you all.
- Carly and CJ: Glad to see you are filling your desire for children with cats until Car has finished school! If you don't make it to visit me here, we will see each other when I return.
- Chris and Erin: While returning home through Seattle isn't exactly convenient and practical, perhaps Chris can make me a special airplane so I can do that!
- Heidi: Hooray! I need details (well not too many details) soon.
- Jake and Sarah: Thank you so much! I hope married life is going well and am kinda looking forward to when there are little Jacobs running around.
- Jane: My summer wasn't the same without the Rec either. My goal is by next summer to have my own Rec Dept up and running here. I think you need to talk to Todd about having the City pay to fly you, Lance, and Heidi in to help get it started.
- John and Lindsey: I think you two just wanted to show off your gorgeous sunsets down there in Florida!
- Mom: You just reminded me that I really should dust my new place. more thing for the to-do list!
- Lance: The hello looks about right! With all your facial hair you would fit in as a PCV. Say hello to your kiddos for me. Also, is it your fault Snake is dead?
- Lindz: I hopefully will have better internet soon and then we will chat for hours as we have a lot to catch up on.
- Riley and Laura: Thanks for the well wishes. Congrats Laura on the new Esq. title!
- Siu On: I am so glad you are out exploring the world too. If you end up in Eastern Europe in the next year, let me know! Also, I highly recommend Istanbul to put on your travel list.
- Rec Girls: I hope you held a funeral for Snakezilla. What did y'all do with the body? Throw him in the garbage? Flush him? While I wish you had a better summer, I am glad you all survived. I miss you all greatly and hope your school years are going well. Unfortunately, while I have vacation days, I don't think I will be back for the wedding. Flights are a little expensive. But I will definitely look at pictures on Facebook!

This made one little saying that the Gusties will know come to mind (it may be used for cheers-ing while drinking, but I think it still fits).
Friends may come and friends may go
Friends may peter out we know
We've been friends through thick and thin
peter out...
or peter in

Ви благодарам многу. Јас имам најдобрите пријатели.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sometimes Others Say It Best

Sometimes other PCVs write posts that are just so perfect. They say exactly what you want to say, but in a way you wouldn't be able to say it. I stumbled across a post by a PCV in Ghana that seems fitting for this coming weekend. This weekend, all of the PCVs in Macedonia will be getting together. It is the first time all of the current volunteers will get to meet the trainees. And what better time to categorize the different types of volunteers.

The following was taken from a PCV in Ghana's blog and despite Ghana being very different than Macedonia, PCVs everywhere are the same!

The Different Types of Volunteers 

Posted on by girlfawkes

Volunteers come in all different shapes, sizes, races, ages, and days out of college. I want to give you a cross section of the Peace Corps Volunteers you might meet, especially since Peace Corps isn’t filled with 8999 people just like me (unfortunately, obviously). Disclaimer! PCVs who may perchance be reading this. These are my versions of ridiculous generalizations, none of these descriptions characterize anyone in particular – except for probably me.
And I’m going to do it my way. Think of them like superlatives. Emphasis on the super.

Zazu – The Obnoxious One
There is always that one person who just drives everyone insane. Whether they are just straight up annoying, full of themselves, or have grating “local” English, this person always gets an eye roll. Secretly, of course. (By the way, we have these birds here! – Just sayin)

peter pan
Peter Pan – The Over-Achiever
Oh you know, that person that holds a training every day of the week. The person that is simultaneously weighing a baby, teaching about malaria prevention, instructing kids how to add in the local language, planting a forest, and showing locals how to keep proper records. You know all in the same breath.

Alice – The Wanderer
This Volunteer’s concept of “site” is hazy. Site is more like the entire country, and sometimes the neighboring countries too. The concept of staying in your own home for more than a week is baffling.

Chip – The Just Out of Colleger
Graduated in May, serving in the Peace Corps in June. So full of hope and enthusiasm and a strong dose of naivety. If nothing else, they bring their communities a smile and an able body.

Carl – The Senior Citizen
What else is there to do when you are retired? Join the Peace Corps! Share your years of knowledge and wisdom with hoards of adoring fans. And prepare yourself for intense arthritis.

evil queen
The Evil Queen – The Diva
Smallsmall mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the cleanest of them all? No power today? OMG I AM GOING TO DIE. Spider in your room? Call a neighbor to kill it for you. Ran out of mascara? OMG I AM GOING TO DIE.

Lefou – The Alcoholic
Ooo, touchy! I know, I went there. Breakfast beers, afternoon shots, and evening night caps followed by more night caps. Isolation and difficult living conditions tend to breed self-destructive behaviors. Everyone knows who they are, even if they don’t.

Hercules – The Superman
Excuse me while I swoop into the country, save thousands of lives from life-threatening illnesses and poverty. Oh don’t worry, I’ll move on to another place in two years, saving babies there. Kryptonite? Reality.

Crush – The Bum
It’s alright dude, I’ll just sit over here, attend some festivals, drink some local brew, and integrate myself. Maybe I’ll do a project at some point, but until I feel like everyone in my village, the next village, and my market town knows my name, personal history, favorite sports team, and lucky t-shirt, I’ll just hang out.

the govenor
The Governor – The Capital Hog
Every once in a while, you need a bit of respite and solace from your lonely life in the village. So you trek yourself the many hours to the capital for good food, expensive everything, and to restock on personal items (aka go watch a million movies). Some people tend to do this a lot more than others. They are sippin the good life gatorade a little too much.

sleeping beauty fairies
Fairies – The Token Gay
”Oooo girl, that dress is fabulous, who’s your tailor?” Loud, proud, and somehow silenced by cultural stigmas. The locals are really just willingly blind to the fabulousness that exudes from these volunteers, because every Volunteer, expat, and random white person’s radar is going off the charts.

Pinocchio – The Site Braggart
And I have running water and electricity and someone washes clothes for me and cleans my room and my job is perfect and my life is awesome and I don’t ever want to leave my village! Let’s get real, some stuff is awesome – like running water, but ain’t nobody’s Peace Corps life a giant heaping plate of cupcakes.

prince naveen
The Frog – The Surprise
Quiet, shy, and a little weird at first – there is always one person that everyone thinks either won’t make it or will go crazy. And wonderfully enough, that person always turns out to be an incredible volunteer, sometimes even extending for another year. Loved by their community, flourishing in the environment, always warms your heart – after you realize how heartless you were.

ruby red
The Ruby Red Slippers
Okay, not exactly in the same line as the others, but whatever. There’s no place like home, and sometimes people can’t last two years without it. Everyone has their reasons, but I’ll let you in on a not so nice secret. All Peace Corps Volunteers judge those who Early Terminate. There I said it, mean sassy cat is out of the bag.

Sneezy – The Infectious Disease’s Wet Dream
Germs, bacteria, viruses, blood borne pathogens, fungi, rabid animals – all things that somehow find some Volunteers more than others. Always sick, somehow dying, we are all hypochondriacs and for good reason here in the bush. Because what doesn’t kill you, actually just makes you super weak, delirious, and writhing in pain.

snow white
Snow White – The Everyone’s Best Friend
Nice, friendly, personable, always smiling, everyone wants to be best friends with this person. And we all are! Every time you see this person you just want to hug the living shit out them and then tell them all your problems.

Bashful – The Quiet One
Somewhere in a village that no one can remember the name of, there is a super sweet, quiet volunteer doing their job and minding their own business. When you run into them, you suddenly remember: “oh my gosh, I do know you. How is wherever you live?”

Cinderella – The One Everyone is Always Jealous Of
They have the perfect village, they speak the local language beautifully, their community loves them, blah blah blah. Someone is always doing something better than you, having a better experience. Maybe they have better amenities, a bigger town, an awesome counterpart – whatever it is, someone always wants it.

Gaston – The Creeper/Womanizer
Someone always has to take this title. No matter what. It doesn’t matter if it is their strange lust for locals, ability to hit on everyone in a 100 yard radius, or just plain sleeziness – someone always gets labeled the creeper.

Mulan – The Fight the Man!
I’m going to take on the system and come out swinging. Corruption, infrastructure, politics, all that good stuff Peace Corps Volunteers are told to turn a blind eye to. Take it all on! Fight the powers! Rise up locals! Yeah yeah, this person normally gives in eventually.

Ariel – The Whiner
My life is so hard! Bucket baths are gross. Eating with your hands is disgusting. There isn’t enough to do in this country. I want to see the world, not this place! I don’t have electricity. I hate my site. No one in my village will work with me. Yeah, yeah, we all experience these feelings – some people just vocalize theirs more often.

That Raccoon – The Cheeseaholic
Every Volunteer has some weird obsession with something from back home. Bacon, pizza, hamburgers, a grocery store, M&Ms, and cheese are some of the big ones. Cheese holds a special place in my heart. Volunteers can talk about food for hours on end. Someone always has some weird obsession with cheese and it always gets brought up.

Pocahontas – The Hippie
Come roll in all the riches that surround you, come taste the sunsweet berries of the earth. Yada yada yada. This is Peace Corps – one is bound to be around.

Woody – The Ultra Volunteer
Unlike Over Achievers and Supermen, the Ultra Volunteer does it all with finesse, humility, and humor. They are completely integrated, never on anyone’s immediate radar, accomplishing boatloads, and probably going to extend. They aren’t overworked, almost always happy and healthy, and tend to stay at site. This person is who everyone wants to be.

Beast – The Overly Hairy One
Mustache. Check. Beard. Check. Chest hair waving in the wind. Check. Toe Hair. Check. With not so safe razors far from site, this Volunteer blooms! Hair hair everywhere. Since we are in Peace Corps – why not go for crazy bush man?

Scar – The Power Tripper
Whether it is in a committee, with staff, or in their community – this Volunteer has the mindset that they are somehow superior to everyone else. Maybe we just aren’t worthy.

Genie – The Life of the Party
This Volunteer gets invited to all the parties in country. Everyone wants them to show up to entertain them. Something ridiculous will happen when this person shows up and YOU want to be around to see it. You know to tell your children about all the amazing life-changing things you did in Peace Corps.

And there you have it – the types of Peace Corps Volunteers you meet in country. I’m sure there are lots more I could come up with, but I think I’ve probably offended enough people Smile. It shouldn’t be too hard to guess which ones are me.

I do not claim to own the copyrights to any of these images. Remember that they are to be used strictly for non-profit purposes. The images are © copyrighted by Disney.

Now I am sure I will spend Saturday analyzing my fellow volunteers!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finally Settled In

Well I finally feel like I am settled in my new place. While I technically moved in a while ago, I haven't had time to put stuff away and make my new place my own with my parents being here and life being busy. But I am now completely unpacked...well I have one box left, but it is stuff I don't really use so I put it in a corner and my thought is if I don't go into that box for at least 2 months, then I don't need anything that is in there and can get rid of it all.

My new host mother commented on how much stuff I have and said she had no idea how I managed to bring it all from America. I pointed out all the stuff I have been given from Peace Corps and what was food and such and she decided I didn't have quite as much, but I still have "too many" books. Ha. My goal when I COS is to have less than what I came with, which will be a challenge since there have already been comments about sending me home with a suitcase of ajvar and rakija.

I really do love my new place. It is so bright and airy and it really does feel like home. I think it will be a great place to live for a year. It is so close to everything. I am not literally 2 minutes from school, the bus stop, the market, and almost everything else in town.

I have one large room that has a mini kitchen in it and a balcony. I share the bathroom that is right outside of my room. There is a storage room and another bedroom on my floor, but they only use the room for guests and laundry, so I have the floor to myself most of the time. They sleep downstairs in the middle floor and we eat down downstairs in the garage/second kitchen that opens out to the gorgeous garden. 

Living room/Bedroom area
My bed
This door goes into the hall, but is locked, so its the perfect place to put a little bit of home
My host parents are AMAZING too! Words can not describe how awesome they are. My host mother is a marvelous cook, so I am paying her to make me lunch each day, something I will really enjoy. When we did our site placement interviews I was against living with a family for a few reasons. First, I did want to live on my own to prove to myself I could do it. I have always had roommates in the past, so this was the first time I really was on my own. I also wanted to be able to cook for myself. But now, a year in, I can say that cooking for one over here isn't a whole lot of fun and is expensive if you want variety in your diet. I chose to live cheaply, so I had little variety and almost no meat. With paying my host mother to cook for me, since she is already cooking for her and my host father, I will get lots of variety and lots of Macedonian food (aka lots of salt, oil, and deliciousness). She weighed me the other day (I don't know what it is with me and host mothers who like to weigh me!) and said when I go back to America, she wants me to be 70 kilos. I told her no. That is not what I want.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That... in Photos

I promised a photo update after the lengthy text one yesterday.

How I spent my August- decorating 40 brown paper bags and matching cards all differently for the VSN welcome packages for the Mak17 group.
The former Roman settlement of Bargala near Shtip
View from Isar in Shtip
I have always loved fireworks, but now even more after discovering the fireworks setting on my camera.

Pastramalijafest in Shtip- one of my favourite festivals in Macedonia
Celebrating Elena's birthday at Stobi Winery
The barrel room
If you want a humorous, but pretty accurate account of Peace Corps life, this blog has been circling around PC MK this week. We even were emailed a link from our Safety and Security Coordinator who came across it and wanted to make sure we all enjoyed it.