Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Kosovo: Chapter 5, Scene 1 A New Day, A New Year, A New Chapter in My Life

 A reader of my blog recently asked me about the book I’m writing. I started telling her about the romantic suspense novel I’m working on and where I am in the process. 

“No,” she said. “I meant the book about your adventures in Kosovo. I’ve been reading the various chapters on your blog.”

Kosovo- cut into the plaster covering a stone wall.
This was at an old house turned into a B&B.
“Ah…about that…”

She’s right. My blog, A Novel Creation, was originally about me as a new writer learning to craft a novel. My readers were other writers interested in pursuing the same dream.

In August, when I made the decision to come to Kosovo and teach fourth grade at Prishtina High School, I realized I am the novel creation (read “unique being”) beginning a new chapter in my life.

Each chapter on my blog is for the month I’m here. September was Chapter 1, Chapter 2 denotes October and so forth. Each scene represents one week in my life in Europe during that month. 
I came to teach.

So now I’m beginning a new year with the first week of January…Chapter 5, Scene 1.

This particular volume is about halfway to completion... if you think in terms of the school year ending in June. In a novel I should be hitting that point of no return. My character should be “all in” in her do or die situation.

But that’s where my story began. I started “all in.” I don’t think you can move halfway around the world with a half-hearted attitude. Sure, maybe some people do it, but I doubt they are happy.

Still, the story isn’t over so it’s the right time to assess where I am and what I’ve learned.

Convenience is a Killer
At the Market
What I’ve discovered in the first half of my journey is that there is a depth to living in Kosova that I never experienced before. Maybe it’s because everything is so readily available to me in the States, I rarely have to plan that far ahead. And if I need something in the States, I jump in my car and go get it.

As it turns out, convenience may be a killer. Walking or taking the bus to the market every few days for bread and fresh vegetables may sound time consuming but through those regular activities I’m exercising more and eating better. I’m also building relationships with others through these interactions.

The people at my corner market share in my joy when I use new words I’m learning. My “regular” bus driver teaches me a new phrase every day or two. And because I plan those activities carefully and according to bus schedules and weather, I use my time wisely. In America, I tend to have time to waste.

Connecting with Others is Essential
Some of my Albanian Friends from School
Kosova is a coffee culture. I could write an entire blog about this…and maybe I will. People often get together for coffee. “Coffee” may wind up as dinner or sweet treats thrown in, but it is central to gathering people together.

Because I live so far away from my family, I’m learning to “go for coffee.” I’m building strong relationships. Bonds are formed with other internationals in the area and my friends who are nationals are sure to be people I will love forever. I find myself investing in other people and I don’t take for granted they will always be there.

Communication is Key
I appreciate dependable communication. I marvel at the women of days gone by who traveled to parts unknown without the benefit of cell phones and internet. The pioneer days of westward expansion may sound romantic in books, but to leave everyone and everything behind and never know how those you love are faring? Not for me. God obviously created me for this time and place.

The postal system via stagecoach, train, or pony express?
Invented so moms and daughters could communicate.
The telegraph and telephone?
Invented for moms and daughters to communicate.
The internet, cell systems, and social media?
No matter what you thought in the past, these too were invented merely so moms and daughters could communicate. I’m convinced of it. The rest of you simply benefit from all the technology created for moms and daughters to communicate. Without it I would be lost.

Church is a great place to connect.
My pastor, Imir and my language coach, Kuma
who was filling in one day as a translator.
And there is another piece to communication. I’m trying to learn enough Albanian to communicate with people I meet and interact with here. I believe it is respectful to at least try to communicate with people here in their own language. They receive my attempts well and encourage me along the way. I quickly learned how to say a few phrases…polite words such as “please” and “thank you,” but also important phrases such as “I want a macchiato.” Now I’m learning more substantial words and phrases and my vocabulary is expanding.

A  New Day…A New Year…a New Chapter in My Life
So in Chapter 5 of this Novel Creation, not only do I teach. I walk to the market. I eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits and freshly baked bread. I’m connecting at deep levels with my coworkers, Kosovar friends and  internationals living here. I’m learning a new language. And with the advancement of technology, I keep up with the goings on of those I love in the States. Each day is new, exciting, and filled with opportunity. Not a bad way to start a new year at all.

Join me in Kosova (the Albanian pronunciation for Kosovo) in Southeastern Europe. Each week I share my experiences. Leave your comments and questions below. I’ll try to address each as best I can. And if you don't want to miss a post, simply add your email address in the box on the right where it says "Follow by email." 

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