Yesterdays “When are you going for dinner?” have become todays, “When are you leaving for Denver?” The change catches at my mind to the pitch of surrealism 0.0
1. Any number of things might might have been limiting or irritating, if I had been thinking about them at all. Google: schemas. Sometimes the recipe for happiness isnt thinking about whether you like something or not but just experiencing it.
2. In Sarajevo I have found people who live in the moment with a calm and astute mind. I love this.
3. The time, people, and places in Bosnia have given me the skills and trust I need to go back but not go under. Thank you.
Staying in one hostel for two months is a must-do. To me, it is like being in an ancient Greek courtyard where people come to discuss ideas. In a hostel, people from all over the world filter through, and in the lounge area where people relax you can discuss aspects of the world you never ponder. You can get blasted by perspectives you never dreamed of. You can laugh at foreign jokes.
Many are surprised when I tell them I am in Sarajevo for two whole months, in this one hostel. But it is the best. If you are a staple of the place, you get a chance to follow up on the acquaintances you make. And, you get to be a little bit of a Guide to new guests and travelers, which is loads of fun.
In Sarajevo, I have loved how if you pursue a conversation with people who greet you, you do not get shut down; instead, you walk down a conversational path at ease for however long you like. Your mind gets opened. Open those veins of conversation that offer themselves to you. Pour into them. Let them pour into you.
By doing this, I have second-hand experienced a side of Islam spirituality you cannot access in books or documentaries, through Kemal. I have learned about a prestigious music high school in Finland, through a phenomenal Finnish gal Elli, a violinist and vocalist and sometimes-pianist. I have heard inside (positive! o.o) perspective on US involvement with Iraq from an Iraqi-Bosnian shopkeeper. I have learned about how a person can leave school at 15, self-educate, and travel the world from this British man David. I really cant list all the interesting perspectives, personalities, knowledge, and nationalities that have molded/expanded my mind through conversations, and conversations that happened because of making or taking the opportunity to talk.
When traveling, spend time as on individual people, as with individual places. And I recommend becoming a fixture of a hostel and city for multiple months.
“I love teaching, and I love English, I am thinking a lot about teaching English abroad after college!”
“I know, you told me.”
This conversation happens a lot with me. Perhaps it has even happened between you and me. 😀
Now, today, the beginner level students informed me they cannot understand me when I speak.
It was not my tempo. It was some other element. I asked Angie about it, and she very helpfully and kindly told me these insights– I must speak with simple, basic words, and not tell long stories. I laugh at myself: how funny, how bad! She is right, and I will have to watch myself. Of course has been hinting at this to me before, but I wasnt getting it. Sorry Angie.
She also suggested to just think about how I learn a foreign language, and what types of things are confusing to me when I am learning.
Well, in my experience of foreign language learning…
Reading Italian and Spanish for me? Easy. Listening to native speakers? Near impossible, because they go too fast, or, because they go on too long. It takes hyper focus to comprehend a foreign speaker, and long stories are exhausting. It becomes easy to loose the thread of meaning, misunderstand, or get a sort of glaze over your ears.
Learning has occurred: Speak simpler and speak shorter. Im going to have to focus on this. Its hard for me when I get going…
Also realized for future career navigation: it is going to be best if I speak the language of my learners, and that the best teachers I have had of foreign languages are the ones with personality, that do lessons on the board or overhead interactively, and have the ability to tap into the class sense of fun and motivation.
My overarching mindset for this summer was experiencing and learning as much as possible. Some ideas floating around under that umbrella in my head that are helping me out, so I thought maybe they would be helpful to a reader or two also:
1. How important it is to Keep a Teachable Heart. I will be honest, this is pretty much saying the same thing as Keep an Open Mind. But I like using Keep a Teachable Heart better; it somehow implies humility rather than patronization of the contentious/different/new.
2. Somebody told me that, When there are two opposite opinions, or two possible answers, the truth is usually somewhere in between. It helps me to remember that in the contentious and puzzling situations I come across in my family, my mind, my daily doings… so I thought, maybe itd be helpful to share, because goodness knows there are a lot of possible answers and opposite opinions in our group and in the places we find ourselves this summer, on everything you can imagine, from international politics to the lyrics of a country song.
On a side-note, I am wildly enjoying this summer, not just for the fun and interesting experiences. Im learning and growing so much from the people I am around, and that probably includes you. Thank you.
I create new roads and sights in my mind to mesh with the new roads and sights under my feet. Ive been thinking about dreading going back to my Real Life, and about how I dont know what I want to do with my life: two sentiments shared by many. The best thoughts Ive had offered to me about these?
1) What do you mean you do not know what you want to do, you are doing it! (We are in Bosnia–presumably that is what in fact you and I wanted to do with our life, never mind if only for a time frame in it. All of life is a time frame!)
2) In the long run, the amount of time a thing takes is irrelevant. Dont let that be an influencing factor in choosing your next move or your follow through.
Pace of life in Bosnia is slow. I love it. Ive needed it. When pace of life is too fast, it is not even a matter of Meaning not sinking in; when your life is too fast, meaning may not show up at all.
Days go slow
And time goes fast
Im thinking about things that happened when I was 5,
Reliving a memory thats been the sick source of my drive.
The more I think, the less I know.
I dont want this too to become a past I didnt realize,
In the living,
Are the good old days.
“Perspective of Home”
Traveling is respite from the system that has borne me: America.
Listening to compatriots’ downtalk,
My perspective manifests,
But after too many self-righteous down-talks,
Love of home fights back.
Listening to foreigners,
Hearing their criticisms and longing,
It’s like listening to your family’s opinion on your home
Then looking inside yourself from the windows without.
Criticisms from my compatriots and from non-Americans alike morph my perspective. They have insight and truth.
Yet now, its hard to say what morphs my perspective on America more: the critiques from within & without, or the dreams I hear of Bosnians to live there?
I like to get out of my country. But the more time I spend out of my country, the more my heart for America pops up its head. You know how it is, you always want to be fixing up your house and renovating; you take some covetous looks at other domiciles from time to time, and consider moving. But when it comes down to it, falling-apart junk heap with dysfunctional family members in it and all, it pours shivers down your skin to think of one’s real home being harmed.
So being with better-educated fellow nationals in Bosnia changes my perspective on the US. But underneath (or wrapped up in?) perspective is the undertow of feeling, and… absence is making my heart grow fonder.
Sometimes I don’t understand the divorce between American tourists’ down-talk of America and our identity as American tourists.
“And above all, it is your civilization, it is you. However much you hate it or laugh at it, you will never be happy away from it for any length of time. The suet puddings and the red pillarboxes have entered into your soul. Good or evil, it is yours, you belong to it, and this side of the grave you will never get away from the marks that it has given you.”
– George Orwell, on one’s home nation – in his case, Britain, 1946
The heart slaps a hand
To your gut and your throat
Stop! It says,
Look at the beauty
She finds herself in,
Never thought we would be here,
May never be here again.