Dear Serbia

Dear Serbia,
Thank you. 
Thank you for helping me realize who I am and what more I could do and become. I am constantly evolving through the inspiration this new land has given me.  


As I look back, I can see how living in Serbia has changed me. The changes occurred slowly over time, but they are HUGE!


Serbia has inspired me to write. Before I came to Serbia, I was never inclined to record my thoughts or experiences. Now, I am inspired daily by the culture, nature, and my experiences. I could write a book on the inspiration, Serbia has given me. 


It was always on my mind to teach English, and my first attempt was abysmal. After taking a course giving me the tools and education I needed, I began to teach. 


Becoming certified to teach has opened many new doors. I am always using my bachelor’s degree in intercultural studies and social sciences in tandem with my teaching certification. 

Continuing to learn more and expand my teaching abilities with new training is important to me. Thank God for the internet and all the schools online! I want to become a great teacher.


After almost four years and thousands of classes, I am in love with teaching. I have taught children as young as two up to retired folks. My students have come from around the world and I am enjoying every minute. It is thrilling to meet new people and help them reach their goals.


Teaching was always in my heart. I began when I was in elementary school. I was probably eight years old. My little sister was lugging around stacks of books. She was aching to learn to read at the age of 4. I opened my old school books and taught her the alphabet.  Then I taught her to read and write. I also taught her the simple math I knew at the time. 


She was a sponge. She learned everything very quickly. When she began kindergarten, she was immediately bumped up to first grade.


I know that it wasn’t my parents that did the teaching. My mother had a severe learning disability and didn’t learn to read until I finished high school. 

My father worked a lot. On top of that, I would guess he has Asperger’s syndrome from the way he acts socially. He was never diagnosed. Both of my parents loved us all and gave us a great deal of love and care as parents should. As a result, I am without a doubt, I was the educator. 


My teaching didn’t stop there. At about the same time, I was taking gymnastics. I was excelling. I loved it more than anything else! During recess, I would teach the girls in my class the things that I learned in gymnastics class. I would perform the new things I had learned on the grass or on the bars and then have the girls who were interested in learning, line up and I would teach them what I had learned. I had forgotten all of this until just recently when thinking of my teaching journey. 


Serbia has helped me to see the gift and realize my potential. I am energized by helping others learn grammar and improve pronunciation. 


Recently I even tutored a student in China; she went on to pass tests that allowed her to work in the U.S. She has since been offered a position at a firm in New Jersey! My heart bursts with joy because of her success! 


Because of Serbia, I see with new eyes and I hear with new ears. I listen slowly to grasp the meaning of Slavic words. Learning the Serbian language and all the cultural beliefs and traditions have changed my brain to some extent. I have a long way to go with the language, but I am looking forward to becoming fluent.


Living in Serbia has given me the most amazing new friends. The people here are so kind. I was blessed on my first visit to meet a few women who have become the dearest of friends. I cherish their friendship, understanding, and the things they have taught me. I am incredibly grateful for their forgiveness for the mistakes I have made. There have been so many!


Lastly, I am grateful for the inspiration Serbia has given me to begin painting. The barren cinderblock walls of our barn invited me to begin.  One summer day I started with watercolors. Flowers soon were blooming all over one side of the barn. I gathered more courage and began to paint the front of the barn. 


One day I was feeling incredibly alone here in the village.  I wanted to cheer myself up with a bit of sun. I chalked out an outline of a sun. The sun’s rays bolstered my desire to create. My ideas flourished. 


My painting journey has been slow. But now there is a large mural with a sun and moon. I am continuously thinking of new creatures to add. It is my magical wall. It is magical because it inspires me to do more and lifts my spirits. 


While none of these achievements are astronomical, they have helped me to evolve. Without Serbia’s inspiration, prodding, and even the heartbreaking challenges I have faced, I have so much to be grateful for. Thank you for your inspiration and your nurturing environment. I am continuing to grow and learn from you every day.

Dear Ex-pat MOM

Dear ex-pat Mom,

Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or maybe like you have lost your identity?

I know the stress you are feeling, I feel it every day still but it is getting better. After finally finding work online, I am working on balancing home and work. Fortunately, the commute is just to the next room.

Let me tell you my story. I am from the U.S. and we have moved to Serbia. I began writing this blog on another platform on my first short-ish trip. Then the writing got real on our third and longer venture. We had a small child. I wrote to share life experiences and cultural revelations.

At that point, writing became my thing. I wrote mentally even when I wasn’t writing physically. It was an outlet that inspired me and gave me mental stimulation when I felt like a human milk maker and baby carrier. The little’s naps gave me a tiny bit of freedom. I used that free time to write. That wee bit of writing helped me to become something new.

Winter was cold. Venturing out was exhausting. Bundling up was a chore. Walking flights of stairs to leave and return often was mentally discouraging. Then there were the outdoor challenges of language and pushing a stroller on uneven pavement and through markets and stores narrow aisles. My local friends also had little ones so the isolation was the same for them.

Time differences and sleep schedules made calls to home complicated. I was really lonely.

Later, when we were back in the U.S. I was hiking a trail and came across a Viet Namese woman who was in much the same boat, just on another shore. We talked as we walked and shared our stories. She expressed the same feelings I had when I was a foreigner in Serbia. I realized as I met others like me, that this was a common international problem.

Over time, I came to see this was a common occurrence. Women are often the caregivers and the trailing spouses become isolated by language, culture, and family responsibilities.

During this time of transition, stress, and turmoil we often get lost, overwhelmed, and struggle to keep our heads above water. The challenge is real.

I am here to bolster you. This transition is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT! Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your spouse. Find things that you love, and find a community even if it is only online to help you feel connected. This connection is crucial to a healthy mental state.

Once you make it through this complicated transition, you will never be who you were. You will BECOME more. Stronger, smarter, more empathetic, and learn tools to manage you never could have dreamed of in your past life. You are in transition. You are the caterpillar transitioning to a beautiful butterfly. You will soon fly.

Let me give you examples from my life, I started writing. I never had words to put to paper before this reincarnation. And it really is a reincarnation.

I painted a mural (still in progress) on my barn. I am an amateur, but it was an amazing creative outlet. Like this blog, I used the time putting color on the grey cement walls to fill my brain with positive feelings and inspire me with my accomplishments.

I got a teaching Certification! I hit the books hard. I studied and completed the task while burning the wick at both ends. I learned to teach English. The end result, I love it. This is my greatest pleasure. Adults, children, professionals, and students alike are a new challenge. I want to find a way to help them all.

While I focus on helping medical professionals, I have extracurricular English goals. One of my favorites is working with children. I love teaching children baseball and doing other fun activities in English. I am on a journey to discovering a new me. It is Exciting.

If you have been an ex-pat mom or are on that journey, let me know where you are. I would love to hear about your adventures, cultural experiences, and enlightening moments.

If I can help you learn English, don’t hesitate to ask.