What are you doing Janneke?
That is a question that I have to answer frequently. Is life out of your home country really harder than -just home-? (where ever that is) Here a little peek behind the scenes.
Many things are the same as everywhere. The sky is often blue. The earth is black. The grass is green and the sun is yellow. When we are friendly to people. People are often friendly to us. Just normal life. And yet.
One good day a few years ago. Laurens turned four years old. We signed him up for the Dutch village school. Filled in a piece of paper. Visited the local school, the classroom, made a picture of the first day. And that was that.
Laurens is turning seven this Summer. Time to sign him up for Croatian school. Kindergarten time is ending this term. And we started the proces of signing him up. And that is pretty well put: start the proces. (croation word for road is put;-)
Sept. 17. Orientational conversation with another parent. Followed by a conversation at the school. We have to explain three arguments why we choose for this particular school. As there are many schools in this town. This is the easy part:
- This school offers school every morning instead of roulated morning and evening school. That will be too much of a challenge as we also face the responsibility of our three teenage girls homeschool program. Life without this system is here already crazy enough. The reason why schools do it here is an old communistic way of using the schoolbuilding in an efficient way. Less classrooms. More kids.
- The school offers help with homework. Our Croatian language skills are still somewhat limited. (and yep. Laurens will go to school the whole day now, because of this homework help.)
- There are other after school programs, what might be nice for Laurens.
- The school will be -as most of the country- Catholic. And well. We are already interested in early christianity. So, let’s see what he is learning. We might correct a few things here and there. We’ll see about that.
Alright: Accepted. (which does not mean: we are signed up.) In Februari 2018 they will contact us about the further details.
Februari 2018. De final details.
This was yet another mistake, as I explained the further details for final details. We miss some information. Are too late for one or another evening. And I feel rather overwhelmed already. ” Just hang in there” would be a good encouragement for me. As I feel hanging somewhere between worlds. list, paperwork and what else.
By now, the school is interested in having us, as most of the Croats are heading towards Germany and Netherlands instead of vise versa. Crazy folks as we are.
After some phonecalls back and forth I Finally find a teacher who is fluent in English. We have a good connection and we talk about everything what unites us, like European stuff. People want to know what we are doing here and I tell: We work for an organisation who from a christian perspective encourages reading and writing with Roma children. That is not bad. Encouraging reading and writing is something what speaks to the heart of the teachers.
On a Tuesday Laurens has to go for a test. A lot of paperworks comes with it. I look anxiously at it.
Another Tuesday. Another test. Everything is Ok and therefore, we can come back for yet another test. Everyhing Ok again. Lost reason why we have to do all these test by now.
The dentist on wednesday, the doctor for next week. A general check up is yet a week later. And the bloodtest is -to keep things easy- at the other part of town. Another date, another time. Some appointments in the morning, others in the afternoon. The best way to find out what and when is standing for a closed door, realizing that it was just the other moment that it was open.
This all helps very well with my feelings of –not understanding my host culture- I can also call for the results for the bloodtest. It is only that I call for the second time that I know the answer. Of course also here, people work either in the morning or in the afternoon.
I banished the word “strange” from my vocabulary.
End of May 2018
Laurens can come back at the doctor. Now with all the paperwork we gathered over the months. I haven’ t lost hope that we will sign up Laurens at some point. But I am not convinced that we are half way the process.
Are you still following? No worries.. me neither.
Laurens learns letters during pre-school. Almost all the same as the letters he learned from Miss Marieke, our Dutch teacher. The Croatian alphabet is almost the same as the Dutch, just a bit more extensive with four c forms and some complications here and there.
Laurens is being prepared, we have certainly descended a deeper layer in the understanding of the culture that is beginning to become dear to us.
Just a few complications here and there, get used to the –hang in there- feeling and banish the word strange from your vocabulaire.
A warm greeting and thanks for your patience and understanding!
What do you find hard when you are out of your home culture? (or back home and feeling a stranger?)
After living in Turkey for 13 years, I returned to USA in 2003 and felt and still feel like a stranger here. finding community is very difficult here.
Ah yes, I can imagine. You also face the hot- cold culture difference. Hope that you feel more and more at home now! And… I also find worldwide community on the web;-) Reminds me always of the worldwide church… blessings to you!