Wow! I cannot believe two weeks have gone by, yet again! Schoolwork is getting a bit more intense as we get into the middle of the semester. I went to Amsterdam last week, and my sister met us in Amsterdam and then she came to Dubrovnik for a week. I was her personal tour guide while she was here!
After 7 weeks of living in Dubrovnik, we finally were able to climb the city walls. I am told that some locals who have lived here their entire life have never climbed the walls, so I don’t feel as guilty that it took us so long to do it :). The view from the walls was completely different than what I was expecting. Since our balcony has such an amazing view of the city, I didn’t think it could be beat. But when you are on top of the walls, the view looking out onto the streets and the terracotta rooftops is incredible.
While my sister, Jessica, was here, I finally did some souvenir shopping and felt like a tourist in Dubrovnik. I met so many great locals working in the shops while I was wandering with Jessica. From the kind man in the T-shirt shop who is specially printing us our own t-shirt styles, to the father of a classmate working at the bus station, I engaged more with locals working in the hospitality industry than before. I also was able to walk through the small outdoor market where locals sell their homemade goods; lavender, oils, cooking utensils, sweets, and fresh fruits and veggies are just a few of the charming things they sold. I discovered new areas of Dubrovnik while my sister was here, and for that I am grateful.
I am becoming a little nervous, because we only have two months left in this city! I cannot believe how fast this experience is flying by. I still have so much to look forward to, like a class field trip tomorrow to Peljisac, a trip to Montenegro next weekend, and a getaway to Rome, Italy in a few weeks!
I have been gone for eight weeks now, and in that small amount of time I have learned more about myself than I would have ever imagined. Some things I learned:
Almost everyone speaks English, which means that are speaking at least two languages, which also means that I am spoiled for never learning another language.
The people who don’t speak English can still communicate with what little English they know, and that is almost always the funnest part about traveling places.
I am more independent than I ever thought possible.
Americans are loved and hated almost everywhere. I feel so lucky to be an American. After meeting a woman traveling alone who was born in the Phillipines but has lived in Tokyo for years, I realized how lucky we are. She has to obtain a visa for every country she visits before she even begins planning her trip, and she has to apply and pay (sometimes several hundred dollars) for each one. Americans can simply buy a plane ticket and hop around several countries without ever having to apply for a visa (which is what I have done for Paris, London, Amsterdam, Rome, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro). I never once even looked up if I needed a visa. But on the other end, some people resent us for that. We are ignorant, and many people want to blame the world’s problems on us. It is very interesting going to class with other nationalities and discussing politics and the refugee crisis. So that brings me to my next point…
Other nationalities pay attention to American politics more than I do. I feel so embarrassed to even admit that. I have not paid attention to the upcoming presidential election much at all, but the woman I met wanted to know my opinions on the upcoming election… and I couldn’t give one! She had watched all the debates and followed the campaigns pretty closely so far, and I don’t think that I have done anything other than see things on social media about it. It is terrible, and I have decided that I need to become more politically involved.
My perception of New York has changed so much. Of course, whenever I tell people I am from New York, they think I mean Manhattan. I tell them no, I come from farm country :). I think the thing I miss most is fall; the foliage, the smells and scents, and the atmosphere. I tried bringing a little bit of NY fall to Dubrovnik by making my sister bring me some ingredients to make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, ha! They don’t sell any pumpkin in Dubrovnik, and it is my ultimate favorite fall food, so since she was coming anyway, I told her to throw it in her suitcase. I think that I have grown an appreciation for New York that I never had before, but maybe I won’t be saying that when I arrive at the end of December in the freezing cold :).
Thank you for following me for the past two months; we have two months left and I am so excited to share the rest of my time here with you!