On Friday I finally made another attempt at the bus! It was actually really easy. The stop is right at the end of my street, the bus comes every 20 minutes until about midnight, and I can take it downtown and be there in about 10 minutes. I already knew this, but it definitely hits home the fact that Akron could learn a thing or two about public transportation :). I went to a restaurant called Mesa Verde that was suggested by a fellow mostly-vegan friend who did a similar 3 month assignment here a year or two ago. I thought I might be able to get my first legitimate vegan meal, but my monolingualism failed me again, and my plate was pretty much coated in cheese. Luckily, however, the friendly Indian restaurant owner (who probably speaks 5 languages) was able to steer me clear of the fish on the menu, and despite (or perhaps because of...) the cheese, my dinner was delicious, and as enjoyable as eating out alone among many groups of happy friends celebrating the weekend can be :). I also got to see a little bit of the city at night... the pictures do it no justice of course, but it was beautiful!
I think I'm also finally digesting the fact that I'm actually here. I think because everything happened so quickly I wasn't mentally prepared for picking up and moving to a new country... so I've been trying to find my way through a weird daze for the past week or so, but this weekend I think it really started to hit me. I'm starting to really realize how crazy, different, and exciting the new things I'm exploring are... everything from driving to work, to exploring an ancient city fortress.
At the same time my tough "world traveler" shell is cracking a little, and I'm realizing how much I wish I could be having these new experiences with my best friend, or sharing the all the beauty and valuable lessons with family and friends at home.
I feel a lot better burning off the fog in my head, but with all the excitement of moving and flying and adjusting and exploring, I'm also seeing how easy it is to get caught up in myself and my many "problems". After all, this is a pretty challenging endeavor... within a week learning that I'd be moving across the globe and then showing up in a place where I can't speak in any of the local languages, living truly on my own for the first time in my life, and trying to make the best of everything without the support of my loved ones that I've gotten so used to. It also doesn't help that I've had to put my work with the Fuller Center and Engineers Without Borders on hold while I'm here, basically abandoning all my outwardly focused efforts for a pursuit that is pretty much purely self-motivated (however right it may be for me to pursue this opportunity!). I'm going to have to make a conscious effort to remember that I'm in one of the top three (depending on who calculates it...) richest countries per capita in the world (I wasn't sure exactly where Luxembourg fell on that list so I looked up this wikipedia article... how ironic is it that the last country I tried to travel to invariably falls at the bottom of the list...). I have to remember that I am so fortunate, not only to have this unique opportunity, but to be so comfortable and capable, despite the challenges!
To make sure I don't forget this I've been trying not to lose track of some of the things I did at home to stay in touch (in whatever small way possible) with the world outside my bubble of comfort. My normal commute with NPR has been replaced by Aljazeera TV (today I watched a documentary on two girls my age in India who started a home for daughters of sex workers, terrifying footage of the earthquake in Turkey, and live coverage of Libya's liberation ceremony), Brett's been keeping me updated on his latest adventures (stay tuned for a guest post from him about the 2011 Millard Fuller Legacy Build in Louisiana!), and I've been keeping up with my usual blogs. Here's something awesome I found today:
... still can't make huge contributions to the solutions the world needs, but I suppose at least I can still feel informed and grounded... and inspired by new bicycle riders :).
In other news... I won't be alone for long! Next weekend I'm going to Rome (!!!!) to visit my friend Lisa, Fuller Center Bicycle Adventurer and World Traveler extraordinaire! Then my friends Mike and Charlotte, who will be moving here soon, will be in town for their home hunting visit, and we have plans to explore together the following weekend! Not long after that I will hopefully receive a visit in return from Lisa :), and four other friends from Ohio--Jamie, Lisa (different one... there are a lot of Lisa's in my life apparently), Ryan, and Karla--have made plans over the past week to visit in the beginning of December (... although last I heard, some of them don't have passports yet... :) ). And of course Mr. Brett and I will be taking on Europe for Christmas and New Years! I definitely have some crazy friends, but I love them, and I'm so glad they're coming to visit!!
More soon about the adventures of Saturday and Sunday... this post is already long enough!
"When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together."
- lessons from kindergarten