When reviewing my “nearly a week” list (below), it seems as though the familiar no longer exists. And though it’s been a week of adjusting, it’s also felt a lot like home with Ceca—our absolutely incredible program director—and Jill, Asawari (Asya), Zach, and Andres—the amazing people I have the privilege of spending the next nine months with! It’s crazy to think that I met all of them just eleven days ago and we already are such a family unit. This week we’ve spent every minute together living in a hostel, eating out every meal, learning about Serbian history and culture though films, guest lecturers, and observation, and discovering Novi Sad by taxi, boat, and foot. On the 10th we move into our host families’ homes so when I’m living amongst Serbs I’ve been advised to expect a myriad of changes.
I should perhaps write a bit about initial impressions of Novi Sad as I will be stationed here until 2011. Its beauty is inherent as you can see from the pictures I’ve posted. There is a pedestrian zone so we can waltz the streets at our leisure without the interruption of cars and pollution (except that from cigarette smoke, and lots of it). People here are overly friendly, partially because we are foreigners but primarily because everyone is just really nice, except when they are driving as I've previously mentioned. Cafés, pekara (bakeries), restaurants, book stores, toy shops, and boutiques line the streets, and I’ve made friends with many of the shopkeepers.
Perhaps the largest change so far has nothing to do with the culture, but instead it lies in temperature, which you may have noted from the numerous mentions of layering. It’s been quite a wintry week for me; at night it’s gotten to the 40s (so basically below 0º in my thin, Hawaiian skin) and during the day it never seems to reach above 60ºF. But once I began to observe the customs of Jack Frost’s season wear, I enjoyed the nipping at my nose, sipping hot tea, and wearing vibrant scarves. Today, September 8th, has proven to be the first day I’ve felt warm with just one layer, so perhaps this will be an upward weather movement. This weather is completely unusual for a standard Serbian September, and some local Serbs have said they think it’s purely a temporary cold spell. However, it does get to the 20s in December and January so this icy bout has been a good test for me to measure my readiness for true chill. And as much as I cannot wait for snow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I'm not ready yet. But I now have three months to prepare myself by the end of which I will be more acclimated. So is my hypothesis. Now I’m just rambling about the weather. In my next entry I will have more to report with my homestay, language development, and new adventures. Until then, cao!