Monday, September 1, 2008

The Countdown Begins

September 1st has arrived, which means my relatively unproductive buffer month of August has ended. I leave for Macedonia on September 30th. 

That means that I no longer have any excuse for an extreme (or so it feels) lack of preparation. And one of the most important aspects of international-post-undergrad-preparation is the establishment of a blog. I think it ranks just below purchasing plane tickets, and just above finding housing, though that may be particular to my own case. 

If anyone reading this doesn't already know why I am off to the Republic of Macedonia, here's a brief rundown: 

The official story is here, on my alma mater's website:

The unofficial story differs on the following points: 

1. While the story offers a lot of lovely, academically verbose quotes from my proposal (enough to make Orwell rise from the dead and reprint "Politics and the English Language"), I actually have very little clue what I'm doing. I'm being hosted by an institute that doesn't know what to do with me,  my language skills are limited, and my area of interest is incredibly broad. 

2. I have nowhere to live when I arrive, and the visa situation is murky, to say the least. Also, I am arriving not in Skopje, my future-home city, but Sofia, in neighboring Bulgaria. How I will get from one to the other with my luggage and without getting ripped off is anyone's guess. 

3. I am purchasing a new computer with half the memory of my current machine. That means that my blues, bluegrass, country, southern rock, and 90's pop music collection will have to be whittled down to only the most important tunes. I'm facing some very tough choices: Will I best be able to connect to Macedonian youth through Sugar Ray's "Fly", or "Folsom Prison Blues"?  Will the native drink rakija lend itself to my "Scotch Drinking Music" playlist, or will I have to create a completely new late-night musical atmosphere?

These problems are not insurmountable - for instance, regarding #3, I'm sure I can buy scotch in Macedonia. They make for more of an adventure, which is really what this is all about. And by that, I mean that this entire year is really just to pad my resume in order to reach my true vocation as a member of the world-famous Team Phaeton.

In the meantime, I recommend this site, written by my fellow-Fulbrighter/super-linguist who has already been in Macedonia for some time. 

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