In nearly a week:
I’ve traveled across twelve time zones.
I’ve forged a path to my hostel, favorite bookstore, university, program director’s apartment, and service placement.
I’ve been lost in the streets of Novi Sad.
I’ve answered the questions “What are you doing here” and “Why Serbia” seven times, each time with a different response.
I’ve expanded my palette with food combinations so distinct and fresh and alive.
I’ve ambled the main pedestrian road, Ulica Zmaj Jovina, a dozen times each day.
I’ve admired the beautiful and sometimes beautifully decrepit European architecture.
I’ve succumbed to contacts (everything is so much clearer now!).
I’ve learned to dance Kolo, a traditional Serbian jig.
I’ve asked at least ten people to teach me to sing “Osam Tamburasa” (part of a scavenger hunt).
I’ve sampled eight bakeries and more than a dozen restaurants.
I’ve eaten bread with every meal.
I’ve learned what a sweater is and that a cardigan and t-shirt just won’t do in anything less than 50ºF.
I’ve not yet met a single person who has lived in Hawaii (Havajah).
I’ve met Tanja Banjanin, a Serbian pop singer, and the lead singer of Atheist Rap, a Novi Sad band from the 90s.
I’ve learned that taxi drivers have really interesting stories to tell.
I’ve been freaked out by the Serbian voice which interrupted my call informing me I’d run out of credit on my “mobile” whilst on a solo exploration. Twice. I then bought phone credit from a disgruntled, young woman who had no interest in facilitating my struggle as I recited, “will you help me” in perfectly broken Serbian. (Note: This is not a proper representation of the typical Serb as I learned the next day buying phone credit again from a doe-eyed, middle-aged man who eagerly assisted my needs and gave me a handful of Smoki, a crunchy peanut-flavored snack, just for attempting to speak his language.)
I’ve learned that Serbs are extremely kind so long as they aren’t driving.
I’ve been required to specify non-carbonated every time I order water.
I’ve found two new desserts that I cannot possibly live without.
I’ve not watched a single American movie or tv show.
I’ve used the internet merely four times.
I’ve turned on a computer merely four times.
I’ve learned to appreciate socks that go above my ankle.
I’ve learned to layer clothing.
I’ve learned to appreciate layered clothing.
I’ve yet to see a Serbian baby that isn’t absolutely adorable.
I’ve heard from three people in separate conversations that my host family is amazing and that they have a miniature poodle and 10-year-old daughter. I'msoexcitedtomeetthem.
I’ve learned that Serbs’ evil Hyde appears while operating a vehicle.
I’ve used only a string or button to flush the toilet.
I’ve been frustrated by the acceptance of time negligence as tardiness is more common than punctuality.
I’ve not yet become accustomed to the excessive smoking.
I’ve introduced myself with my name, age, and hometown in Serbian.
I’ve mouthed every street sign to practice the Cyrillic alphabet.
And foremost I’ve realized how much there is to learn and do and see and discover and taste and experience and love in the next four months!