So far the only time I feel anxious here is at night before I am about to go to bed. It’s funny because that is the only time I am searching for something familiar. Oddly enough my Croatian family is rather American. They watch American tv and movies and tonight we had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. It made it all seem a bit more familiar. I think being here, however, will make my English horrible! My friend Fiona made a good observation; it is like you are constantly playing catch phrase, searching for common ground weather that is language or a hand gesture. I realize how much French I know in comparison. In searching for the phrases, I want to spit out French bits and pieces, but for the most part it isn’t any help. My host mom, Irena, is learning English right now and we are helping each other. As we were taking things out of the dishwasher she will say the item in Croatian and me and English. At the grocery store we taught each other pickle.
There is a lot of funny language stories. For one, all cereal is just called cornflakes. Cereal is all imported. Most people eat bread and jellies and pastries for breakfast. I don’t understand how Croatians are not fat! All the food that is made here they will tell you is domestic and it is DELCIOUS. Tonight after dinner Petra, my host sister, cut up a tomato with salt and basil and put homemade olive oil from her grandfather who lives in Dalmatia. It was the best olive oil I have ever tasted. (Paul, you would love it).
Class is a bit slow but that is only because everyone has to get on the same page. There is only one class comprised of people who study anthropology, peace and conflict studies, sociology, economics, history, American cultural studies etc. Croatian class, however, is moving at the pace of lightening, unfortunately for me. I need to study more, but it is difficult to shut yourself away from the world when everything is so new and interesting.
Today I had to register with the police, which every foreigner in croatia has to do. Luckily I was accepted. Afterwards Mriko (my “moms” father) took me and his student out for kava. He is a sweet man who speaks little English but who has hosted 10 American students through the program I am on. He talks about all of them and nods his head approvingly. Every time I have seen him thus far is draped in a gray trench coat and an inspector-gadget hat. I wish he could tell me stories about his life. All I know is he and his wife worked for an oil company for many years when Yugoslavia was a communist country.
As for now I am mostly going to class and spending time with my family here. We went to the mall and the grocery store today in new Zagreb. This is the new part of the city that looks like the suburb of any American city. The mall even plays American music and has stores like timberland, nike, etc. I don’t know how I feel about American malls sitting on the outskirts of such an old and beautiful city and only a tram ride away from stands of fresh fruit and delicious finds.
Today I wandered around after class with my friend Fiona and we looked at shoes (there are a million shoe stores) ate DELICIOUS ice cream and went to the library. :)