Reflections

Though my host family is Muslim, we still have a Christmas tree!

Though my host family is Muslim, we still have a Christmas tree!

The hustle and bustle of the holidays is ingrained too deeply into my cultural conscious to escape it, even living thousands of miles away.  I have come to realize that I actually miss the craziness of this season  – last minute shopping in crowded stores, awkward work holiday parties, and overindulging at Christmas dinner.

A group of fellow volunteers and I organized a Christmas gathering this year, complete with spiced wine, a white elephant gift exchange, and Home Alone.  The celebration somehow devolved into a dance party (a common theme of our gatherings). This year has certainly brought a slew of new experiences, which I think warrant a bit of reflection in light of  the approaching new year:

  • You can communicate without words (awkward, but effective)
  • Food makes friends faster than words
  • Few things are sweeter than communicating in a language that you are fluent in, especially after having said too many sentences that sound like “I hungry”, “I go shower, is good?” in a foreign language (or two)
  • There’s no easy way to handle political and ethnic discussions
  • Sleep, hot showers and privacy are priceless
  • Friends  and family are AMAZING and help to keep me (mostly) sane
  • Being in a completely foreign environment has made me incredibly appreciative of the many Macedonians and Albanians who have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome, well-fed, caffeinated and comfortable
  • Humor makes awkwardness (and any other situation) bearable, and possibly enjoyable
  • The more I learn about the world around me, the more I realize how little I know –  time to load the Kindle with educational tomes
  • What is a comfort zone? I seem to have lost mine somewhere, along with an ability to be embarrassed
  • Bathroom doors with key locks should be avoided at all costs (for further explanation, read about my recent rescue)

Cheers to the New Year and the experiences that lie ahead!

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