Where in the World is Rene?

The weblog of an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

A Day In the Life

Hi friends.  I thought it would be a good idea to let you all know what I have been up to.  That way maybe you can visualize what I am doing here in Macedonia when you are doing your American thing.  You are driving to work, while at the same time, I am walking home from class through my village in the mud.  Oh, but it’s the same world and we aren’t so far apart, are we.  And if this were a Disney movie this is the exact moment where Fivel Mousekewitz would begin singing…aw.

1) Host Dad wakes me up by saying “Stand up Pehe” because I simply cannot figure out how to work the travel alarm. The verb “stand up” is literally translated from the Macedonian verb stanyvam, which is what they say instead of “wake up.” A funny that I learned in week two of verb conjugations. Also Pehe is my nickname (see previous blog).

2) I eat eggs n oil for breakfast. Host Dad makes Turkish coffee, which is like cowboy coffee. I drink it with great care as not to get coffee grounds in the teeth.

3) Run run run to school. Arrive late anyway.

4) FOUR F-ING HOURS OF LANGUAGE CLASS. I have located the exact area of the brain where language comprehension occurs. It is in the frontal lobe, to the right and equidistance between the eyebrow and the hairline. I know this is the correct location because this is where my brain hurts.

5) Monday, Thursday and Friday I go home and try to run or walk or do something to work off the oil that was on my eggs, or the oil that will be on my lunch. Tuesday and Wednesday, I go to my community development practicum site with the Organization Na Zheni (Womens Org) in Sveti Nikole. This sounds exciting, but because I don’t speak much Macedonian and because they are busy, it generally entails me sitting off to the side drinking Turkish coffee and generally trying to appreciate the work they are doing. I try to nod enthusiastically in ten minute intervals to keep up the positive mojo. Also, I have helped them write some pen pal letters in English.

6) Go home; eat giant lunch. Lunch is the big meal here people, and it’s grrreat! The usual components are bread (but I am warning you: do not to dip it into the soup), ayvar (roasted pepper spread), cirenje (feta cheese), chicken soup (not of the Campbells sort), assorted salads (the veggies kick ass), and a main dish (meat n potato).

7) More Turkish coffee!

8) Back to school for a meeting of some sort. Believe me, Peace Corps is not in danger of running out of ideas for meetings. Today we had one about the cross cultural differences in medical care. Really, Peace Corps, I know it’s not America- I could have been shampooing the neighbors’ cat with that time.

9) Home to study. Psyche! I don’t study. I’m tired. I check my e-mail and look at all the hilarious comments on my blog (aww). Ok, sometimes I study. But I try not to learn anything.

10) Hang out with the host fam. Sometimes I play backgammon with Toshi, sometimes I take a walk with Biliana. Last night we all made apple pie. You just never know what those crazy kids will want to do.

11) Go to sleep under thirty blankets.

Well, there you have it, that’s my Macedonian life. I feel pretty busy here, and not necessarily because of all the standard Trainee activities. I think it’s kind of because even the simplest activities are challenging, like trying to buy shampoo or trying to understand why I can’t put my bread into my soup. It’s not a complaint, just and observation and the modus operandi of my life.

Anyways, I miss you all and I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving.  I am actually going to a Peace Corps Thanksgiving of about two hundred people tonight so that should be fun.  I will take lots of pics for my next entry.

пријатно! (bye)




  Kait wrote @

Thank you so much for the update!!! I love it. Love hearing from you.

Can we set up a skype date for Monday? Before 11:00am my time? This amazing thing skype has me hooked…. Good thing, cause I get random IMs from random ppl through it. Score! Double the goodness.

So I’m trying to cut back on the coffee, it’s a process that is usually thwarted by my attempt to get anything done. That’s a side comment though.

I saw the video of you and Heidster doing the electric slide with the PC ppl. You are one sexy, sexy dancing fool. Glad to know mama’s still got her groove. 🙂


  TerryR wrote @

We’re so glad we got to talk to you on Thanksgiving Day, Rene. All the family was amazed at this new thing called “Skype!” What fun!

Don’t forget to make your list–many wants to send something to you for Christmas, but they’ll get sticker shock if they try to use snail mail!

Your adventures are very inspiring to us, and I’m glad to see you leading the way in social and civic service. It’s sooo refreshing… hope more of us can figure out how to make time to become so involved in more than just ourselves in the near future.

Don’t forget to visit your host-family once in a while after you’ve moved on to Kumanovo. I’m sure you’ve made an impression that won’t soon be forgotten!! We love you, Mom & Dad

  Erin wrote @

Hope your Thanksgiving was delicious!! Josh and I went to Gramas for din din and dominoes… I made WAY too many mashed potaotes!! Hope all is well and I will chat with you in the near future.
(Elvis did that when he sat on the computer, must be his way of saying hi)

  Erin wrote @

Oh I forgot…

“There are no cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese”

  Mo wrote @

Great talking to you Pehe. as soon as your mom gets me the info I will send some Starbucks to you.

Hay I want to see the electric slide video.


  Auntie Lynn wrote @

Nay Nay,

At least you don’t have to walk in the mud uphill both ways like they did in the old days (grin). I also want to know for future reference if “Stand Up” really works , after all these years who knew?

Thanksgiving here in MI was a snowy and cold one but very quiet on the home front for a change.

I love to hear about your adventures so keep up the good blogging, it keeps the ones who love and miss you very close.

Abbie and Charlie send big kisses or, uh licks.

Love ya Pehe,

Auntie Lynn and Uncle Dwig

  SD Rohrs wrote @

Dear Rene, I smell whinning. Sounds like a typical day when I was a kid walking to school in the rain up in Oregon. At least you don’t have kids taunting you about your low top tennis shoes that your mother picked out for you. (Only girls wore low top tennis shoes in those days–all the guys wore hi tops–how times have changed). Lucky I was big for my age and nobody bloodied my nose, but I was surely embarrassed. Enjoy the moment. Love, Dad

  TerryR wrote @

Pehe Popc …. hmmm, sounds like you’re getting your Cyrillic alphabet down. Did you know that “rohr” in German is “water weed?” What is a water weed in Macedonian?

  joe b wrote @

I wish i could be experiencing a different culture right now. I was kinda jealous about all your experiences so i wandered into a carneceria and spoke german to them so that i could have the same confusing experiences as you. the only difference is i did not help anyone, in fact, i angered a few people. a lot of people. bonnie says hi

  Jonathan wrote @

Hey Rene,

I Just wanted to wish you Happy Holidays since you and the Heidster don’t have the luxary of being home for them as I do.

I hope you are enjoying yourself over there, and still are working on becoming the next great USA soccer star.

Take care,


  TerryR wrote @

Hey Rene, we saw all the fams for Christmas day. Went to Grama Norma’s and then to Uncle Mimo’s and played some dominos. You should think about creating a dominos group with your Peace Corps friends…it’s fun! Hope you had a chance (or will have) to do something special for Christmas!

love you, Mom

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