Many people always ask me what I think about Serbia, how I feel about this or that. And I love the questions. So, now& it's about getting a little personal - the inside of my mind as an American trying to make it in a foreign country.
It has been too long since I've written anything of value or worth. There have been a million things that have happened in my life lately. From a severely bad job experience in Ukraine that brought me back to Serbia which actually helped me find work to getting back in the swing of university work day and night. The joys of an online university. However, I'm so excited and yet so nervous to be teaching for the first time. Meeting the people that I'll be working with and seeing on a regular basis has made me think about some things though.
Aside from my love of political debates here in Serbia, I love the
people. I remember telling people back in the States that I would be
moving to Serbia and they would freak out. They would tell me I would be
treated like shit, greeted with AK-47s, or even beaten up in the streets.
That might happen if I was to stay drunk and loud, screaming in the
streets that Serbia is the scum of the world. And I am not sure that
would all those things would happen even if I was doing all that. I have
met nothing but kindness, open-mindedness, and intrigue. Most people
always ask me Why would you want to move to Serbia!?
But I love answering this question.
There are a million reasons I love Serbia. Things I have yet found words
for. But I cannot say the entire experience has been flowers and rainbows
for me. There have been a million and three issues with legalities. I
spent 7 months looking for work and didn't find it until I spent over
$1000 USD going to and from Ukraine. That $1000 doesn't include the fee
for my Serbian course that put me in the position to find out about the
language school that would end up being my first teaching job.
There have been many cultural issues I've struggled with. My best friend here in Belgrade, Nevena, has helped me through many of them. The way Serbs interact is much different that we Americans do, and it has taken a toll on my sanity at times and definitely taken some adjustments.
However, every day it gets easier. I cannot say I still feel like I am just a tourist or an outsider. The language barrier is a bitch, no doubt about that. But I know in time that will change. There is no way to speed that up. And until then, I am still pretty much excluded from most conversations when out as a group as it is much easier for everyone else to speak Serbian, or the ones that don't know English cannot speak to me anyway. But you get used it to after a while. It isn't always fun, but it is a learning experience.
I cannot lie and say that sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to pack up and go home. But I know it wouldn't be. That's quitting. And this isn't something to quit over. These issues are fixable, but just with time. You cannot learn a language and culture over night. It takes experiencing, stumbling through, and time. And everyone I've met has been extremely helpful in getting me through it all.
I wish I could be in the other room with a couple friends and my boyfriend and laughing loudly as they are& but I can't keep up with the Serbian and they don't care to speak English too much - they claim to be bad at it. I consider it motivation for learning the language faster. This is the way of a foreigner in a foreign country. There are many things to learn and adjust to and many more to accept. However, through it all I still love this place! My small hurtles do not stop me but encourage and motivate. Nothing a little music can't make better.
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