What were my greatest challenges of living overseas?
Picture of homemade waffles & syrup-- both of which I learned how to make overseas.
In this blog post, I want to share some of the struggles I have had living overseas. Let me first say that the joys and delights of living overseas have highly out-weighed the struggles! I am only documenting these challenges for you to read, and for me to remember what my life was like here in Macedonia.
Laundry has been a big challenge for me here. Being without a clothes dryer makes laundry much more time consuming. On hot summer days the clothes dry outside easily; and on very cold days the clothes dry inside our home lying on the heaters. It’s the in-between days (mainly in fall and spring), and those rainy days when the laundry pile seems to grow higher and higher. I wonder if I will ever get caught up. We are accustomed to stiff towels and blue jeans now, even though I use a large amount of fabric softener. I am very thankful that I have had a washing machine because many, many people around the world must wash their clothes by hand (including many of our Roma friends) and hang them out to dry.
Prior to coming to Macedonia, I was starting to feel very confident in my kitchen preparing foods for my family. Once we arrived here, all of that changed! First of all, my kitchen appliances are really small. My mom commented, on one of her visits, that she felt like she was cooking in a play house. Seriously, everything is really small – a small fridge, a small stove and oven, and a small sink. Cooking with Celsius readings and trying to find the ingredients I need for recipes has also been challenging. Many times I have been able to find substitutions to make a meal close to what it would taste like in America. But other times, I just give up and say we’ll wait until we get back to America to eat that particular thing again. These cooking trials have been very good for me, because I’ve learned to cook many things from scratch that I would have never attempted before. For example, I started making my own pancake and waffle syrup because the only kind that is here in the stores is very expensive. Also, since cookies, cakes, and brownie mixes cannot be found here, I started making those from scratch. I learned how to make a delicious cream cheese frosting when I would have normally just bought a can of Pillsbury in the states and been done with it. With all this said, I am not proclaiming at all to be a gourmet chef . . . I am only saying that I am thankful that I was taken out of my cooking comfort zone.
Another challenge aspect to life here in the Balkans is hot water. For our bathroom and kitchen, I must always remember to turn the switch on to pre-heat the water, but to not leave it on too long and run up the power bill. There have been many times that we have forgotten to pre-heat the hot water, and have had to wait a while to get that hot shower we were so badly wanting.
Driving here is quite different than in America. I haven’t been able to psyche myself to try it here. Eric has done well, so I just let him drive us everywhere:) First of all, I’m not confident at driving a stick shift. Second, with the crazy traffic here and how most people drive, I just decided my life would be much less stressful if I just let Eric drive us, or take a taxi or bus.
A spiritual challenge for me has been not having an English speaking church. The music and sermons at Bozje Glas (translation – God’s Voice), where we attend, is all in Macedonian. Therefore, I can only understand some of what is being taught. Thankfully, many of the songs are translations from English songs that I already know, so I can understand many songs. I have missed having a Sunday school class for myself and also for Sawyer.