07 May, 2006

Meeting people is easy.

Here I am, living in Croatia. The last 9 months have been filled with various ups and downs, and many fun (and wretched) “learning” experiences. It is weird to me that life here feels somewhat normal now, and people that I did not know at all a year ago are now my closest friends. I suppose that is sort of inevitable when you are sent off to a foreign land with only 8 other people, but it is sort of cool to realize that now I know and deeply love my teammates and I would never have these friendships if I hadn’t have come here.

Throughout the year we have had a handful of opportunities to interact with other Americans, and (as Taylor and I discussed on Saturday) it has been a bit nerve-wracking every time. First, Sara’s brother Jesse and friend Matt came out in September. Then 7 people came out from the University of Montana at the end of November. We met some people from Montana State University in March, then Taylor’s family came the next week. After that, Samantha and Dave came from U of M, in April, Pete’s mom and sister came, and this week Tim and Sara’s friend Brian is here.

Now that I’ve listed them all, it seems like a lot. BUT the common denominator is that it’s always awkward. Maybe not on the outside, but definitely on the inside. Invariably, we’ve always heard a lot about the people before they arrive, so in a sense, you feel like you already know them a little. Then you meet in person, and there are so many decisions: Do I introduce myself, or wait for someone else to do it? If it’s a big group, do I go around to each person? If I’m coming late to a restaurant, do I just sit down or walk over and shake hands? If it’s a teammate’s family member, are hugs expected, appropriate, optional, or just weird? At what point do I start joking around and making sarcastic remarks without them taking me seriously, thereby necessitating an even-more-awkward explanation that, in fact, I was just joking, and, no, I don’t actually swim in the poo canal (or, even worse, no, I was not just joking, I really have fished in the poo canal). Saying good-bye is even weirder, though, since most of the time we have no idea if we will ever see one another again.

Taylor and I talked about the initial discomfort of meeting visitors for a while, and in the end we figured there is just no way around these things. The stiffness of the first meeting has always been worth it, though, since we’ve had a great time with everyone we’ve met. So, thanks to all who have visited. Come again, and bring friends!


Matt McComas said...

Remember that time we were saying goodbye after dinner...man that was akward.

Guess we'll have to come visit you again.

Emaline said...

Hi Alexis,
This is Emily again. I am just checking your blog again to see if you have any other reccommendations for what to see in croatia...now that you have been there for a good while. I don't want to go all the way down to Dubrovnik, but I do want to see the nice parts of croatia. Is Rejika nice too? Ok, well if you get a minute and wouldn't mind dropping a few reccommendations..that would be super! Good luck with everything there and I know God will bless all your efforts there in Croatia. Sincerely Emily Wilkens

Alexis said...

Yes, Matt, you guys will have to come out next year!

Alexis said...

Hi Emily! If you want to stay north, I would definitely recommend places on the coast. Up north: Pula, Rovinj, and Porec are nice. Rijeka is okay, and Opatija and Crikvenica are close by and a little nicer. Split is also pretty cool, though I haven't yet spent much time there. It is about halfway between Rijeka and Dubrovnik. Hope that helps!