Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Ucim Srpski
Has it only been 3.5 weeks? It feels like much more – but in a positive way. It’s good to finally have a whole evening to myself. I think it’s only been a week but it’s good to be able to have some dinner, sit down and relax then get on with some work.

I’ve started my Serbian lessons. It’s good to make a start. 3 hours a week so not too much. I’m still not sure I’ve learnt the alphabet for tomorrow. I cannot get my tongue/mouth around two of the sounds. I know they are meant to sound different but I’m not having much success. It’s like going to speech therapy all over again. I’m trying not to watch too much English television to get used to hearing Serbian. I’m picking up some words – even if I do not know what they mean. Thankfully at the flat there is recnik (dictionary) so that I can look up some words.

I’m meeting more students which is great. In a couple of weeks the student work will start.

I’m trying to get used to Serbian hospitality. I’m beginning to learn not to eat any food before visiting. They remind me of Mrs Doyle from Father Ted – “Go on, go on, go on, go on”. They say things much better than that. “Are you hungry?” “No”.
They wait a short time. “Can I get you some cake?” “No, thank you”. Another short time – “Would you like ….” Even if you give in early more food appears. I try to let people know early on that I’m a vegetarian as a bit of a warning. I’m afraid I’d have to offend someone by not eating their meat.

I’m enjoying catching up on my films. Some I haven’t heard off but am loving flicking through peoples DVD collections to see what films they have. The Copyright laws are different here so can download films from the internet.

Talking of the internet – this time tomorrow I’ll hopefully be a step nearer to better internet connection. But I’ll still have to be patient and wait for the modem/router to arrive. I cannot wait to be able to chat to people again. I’m really missing speaking to people back home – especially brother as I still haven’t found out how their Christmas and New Year was in Oz. “It’s good to talk”. Will we be able to have an interactive small group meeting, I wonder?...

Monday, 12 January 2009

The first week
I cannot believe it's only my first week. It feels as if I've been here a little longer. I'm feeling settled in my flat and am getting to know the different buses I can catch to get to different parts of town. My flat is superb. I'm getting used to hearing the other occupants of the building. Not that it's overly noisy but I'm used to living in a semi with no-one the other side. I've decided to sleep in the big bed, which means I have to make up the sofa bed each evening. I find I sleep better in a bigger bed. It's quite a novelty now and it makes sure I keep the living area tidy, so it's a good thing. Karolina worked hard in creating some cupboard/wardrobe space for me, thank you. My clothes fit great into one of the wardrobes. I really must fully unpack the case so I can see what I do have.
I had a good day Saturday looking after Milos and Iva. We played some games. I didn't realise how long a game could last. At first Milos and I started playing Ludo. I lost track after 2 hours how long it lasted. After that Iva and I played Snakes and Ladders. We gave up after an hour. Unbelievable.
After Vlada and Sonja came back Sonja kindly dropped me off at Martin and Peter's. It was good to spend some time with them. Boys and their toy's though – I can sort of understand and X-box but a large flat screen tv? I must admit, it does look good and is great for game playing.
Yesterday was the first church service. Services are now in the morning, starting at 11am. Martin and I had arranged to get there earlier as the rooms needed to be cleaned before the service. We had planned to start at 9am, which meant I'd have to leave around 8am as I wasn't sure on the buses on a Sunday. I missed my bus by a matter of seconds. If the road hadn't been slippery I may have managed to catch it, but I'm still a bit nervous of the snow and ice (I'm a lot better than I was). So I decided to walk to find out how long it takes. I had a feeling it could be about an hour and wasn't completely sure of the way but still tried. It did take an hour and I managed not to get lost. There wasn't too much cleaning to do, thankfully as I was nearly an hour later than planned – but I wasn't worried as Martin wasn't there either.
It was good to spend time at the church and with the members of the church. There were some familiar faces and some new ones. The service was good. It hit me that this is my church for the next few months. I think it has finally sunk in I'm here for a while – not too sure how that feels at the moment, one minute it feels ok the next not so good! I have a few phone numbers to arrange to meet with some ladies.
Last night I had my first migraine in months. I thought it was my usual sinus pain but I was wrong. It is difficult to distinguish at times if it is sinus pain or migraine pain. I took some pain killers but it didn't touch the pain. That's when I realised I was in for a bad time. I made up my bed which made my pain worse but I had to try to get to sleep as soon as possible. It was too late. I spent the few hours either with head down the toilet or trying to get some rest.
I'm now sitting by the light of the laptop as my part of town has a power cut. It's been over an hour and it seems to be spreading. The block of flats opposite here (a bit of distance away) had electricity which gave some sort of light but they've gone out now. I thought I'd use the time wisely and catch up on the blog (will try to upload as soon as electricity is back). It's amazing how much we use electricity for, the things we cannot do when we haven't any. I'd love to sit and read but cannot see the page without being blinded by the flame. Never mind, surely it cannot last forever?!
I'm feeling a little lost – most of it's due to being impatient. I want to do so much here but things are very slow at the moment. The students aren't back to university yet so some are still in their home town. I'm unsure what I need to do here and what activities I need to sort out or help with or just attend. I know all this will become clearer in time and some of it is to do with the culture. It's a shame, I wanted to ring one of the ladies from church tonight to see if she's free tomorrow but as the phone's a walkabout one I cannot even do that. I have to remember it's only my first week of many. I must enjoy this spare time because once I start Serbian lesson's I can see my spare time being used up by learning.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Cathy's in Nis
I arrived Monday evening. I'm trying not to use the internet connection at the flat too much because it's pay per minute and I've already spent too long on so far! I'm in the process of having it changed which will be great.
I'm surprised how settled I'm feeling. It was a great way of easing into life here having some company at the flat for the first few nights, thanks Naomi.
I had a chilled out day yesterday. Thought I'd try to start how I mean to go on by cleaning the flat - not that it needs it. I ended up blowing a fuse. I tried to sort it myself but it didn't work. I hadn't got any lights. Luckily some sockets still worked so I had one light on but had to feel my way in the bathroom. Sretan came round to sort things out, did the same thing as I did and the lights came on. Work that one out.... I felt terrible - I hadn't been in the flat a week before things start going wrong.
I think next week may still be a little slow as things start picking up mid-January but am hoping to meet a few people next week, even if it's only one a day. I'll know more after church tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

One Sleep To Go
 I use that term lightly - not sure if I'm going to get much sleep tonight as I still need to finish off some things at home and to finish packing. 20kg sounds quite a lot until you try to put clothes and craft material together. It's surprising how little there is. I haven't packed my toiletries yet and I'm fast approaching the limit. For a girl who loves shoes I'm only taking one pair of ballerina pumps. It's really hard trying to work out the best things to take for 5 months when it's snowing at the moment but it's difficult to know when the weathers going to warm up. And we (Naomi and I) are leaving early hours on Monday for the first flight out of Gatwick. I cannot see us getting much sleep then.
The exchange rate is causing some concern. I changed up some cash yesterday to make sure we could get from the airport to the bus, the bus to Ni
-->. Wow, under 1 Euro to 1 Pound. Ouch, that's really tightening an already tight belt. This is the first time I'm taking notice of what is happening to the economy. I can only pray things improve slightly and my budgeting skills are spot on. I'm trying to work out how I can afford to have Serbian lessons. I'll see what the language school has to offer and take it from there.
The animals are off on holiday. I have had to give up my rabbit which is a shame. But I left her at Melsop Farm Park making friends with guinea pigs. I felt a bit better after seeing her settled in a bit. I pray she will be bought by a loving family. Sooty, my cat, was picked up earlier this evening. It's strange being at home and not having him here. Just shows how much company he was (still is!). There are some very strange noises that I used to put down to the animals but it's not them! Just as well I'm busy tonight - the noises won't bother me too much!
I've been trying to focus on what my time in Serbia is going to be like but I don't like trying to box it into categories. I feel really open to what God wants me to do and where and how. I'm so excited about new experiences and to see how much I will grow. I know there are going to be some challenges and I sure the challenges are going to be bigger than I think they could be but isn't that part of stepping out? I'm really excited about hearing about the changes back home as well, as individuals and as churches regionally and nationally. So go on, make time and let me know how you're getting on.