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Hello all ūüôā

 

I know it’s been a while since I’ve been active, and a lot has happened since then so I’ll try to be brief and catch you up .

My then fiance, now husband Milan is a track and field athlete with the dream to make it to the 2016 olympics and represent his country, Serbia in the 110 meter hurdles. He is currently the National record holder in the 60meter hurdles, and 0.03 of a second away from setting the National record and qualifying for the games in the 110 hurdles.

He has recently been presented the opportunity to attend the World Athletic Center for track and field athletes in Phoenix, AZ for the 2015 year. Tuition for the camp is $6,500 and as recent college grads and newlyweds it’s a little steep for us. If you can help in any way (cents, single dollars, likes and shares) we would be eternally grateful.

He has worked so hard to get to this point, please, if you can help to make his dream come true.

 

Thank you from the both of us,

The Ristics

 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/milan-ristic-olympic-games-rio-2016/x/8354020

 

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Top Ten

Milan has just returned from a six day trip to Turkey for the Senior Balkan track and field championships, and because he is such a stud he brought home two medals. Bronze in the 4x100m relay and a gold in the 110 hurdles. You’d think I’d expect it by now, but I can’t help but be excited for him.

Notice how I said HE has just returned. The ME half of our couple stayed here in Belgrade at his parents house. While I enjoyed staying with his sister for a night, and using google translate to talk to his mom, you can understand that I was having to be silent for a lot longer than I’m used to. And I’m sure it goes without saying that I gave Milan an earful when he returned.

It’s hard to believe that a week from today I’ll be back on a plane headed to the states. ¬†While I’ve loved my stay in Serbia, home will always be home. I have learned a lot though. These are the top ten most striking things I’ve picked up on lately.

10. Turbo-folk is king¬†– No matter which radio station I turn to, or which store we go into, I am surrounded by the sound of¬†accordions¬†and busty women singing to something between techno and pop music. If you’re not in favor, buy an ipod, or two. I promise it’s everywhere.

9. Just because it’s a one lane road doesn’t mean multiple cars won’t try to occupy the same space at the same time.– It is a simple fact that if you want to keep your arm, do not stick it out the window. It does not matter if your side of the car is next to the curb, that does not mean that around car won’t¬†maneuver itself up the sidewalk to zip past you without regard for your arm or whatever body part is out the window.

8. Meat and bread are not food groups, they are a way of life. РGrowing up in the south I am not a stranger to meat and potatoes, but Serbian meals are way out of my league. Of course it is all cooked to perfection (as many hours as that may take,) but it is so rich and heavy that I have a hard time eating more than a delicate serving. Which brings me to my next point.

7. I Honestly don’t know where they put it. –¬†I may have mentioned before that I am astounded by the lack of fat people in Serbia, but even more astounding is the amount of food that they can ALL eat.¬† I have learned that even after I’m full to keep food on my plate and kind of push it around while everyone else eats. This is the only thing that will keep people from putting more on it and instructing me to eat. I admit that having my thyroid out has taken me out of the eating game, but I think even back in my glory days of downing whole pizzas I would be impressed.

6. Coffee is always always acceptable.Р How can I not love a country where coffee is always a good idea. Yes of course when you wake up, but also in the afternoon, evening, in a box, with a fox.. literally whenever you want. While I know the US is becoming this way with its overwhelming number of coffeehouses, I love it here because its not only okay, but encouraged.

5. Naps are good for you-¬†Serbia (as I’ve experienced it) is like never ending Thanksgiving. You go out and play with your family (going out, practicing, and random socializing,) then you eat as much as you can whenever you can, you nap it off and then you coffee up and start over again. ¬†There are much worse ways to spend a summer.

4. All subjects are open for discussion. –¬†If people want to know something about you, they ask. There is nothing too personal for people to ask about. In ¬†return they also expect you’ll share if there is any type of activity in you life, big or small. If you have new pimple, remain prepared that it could work it’s way into the conversation.

3. Practice your answers about Tito. -Nothing makes you more of a ridiculous American then when some asks you to tell everything you know about Tito and you are silent. Don’t get me wrong, I know we discussed Tito in a couple of those History classes that I napped through, but now there’s a little more pressure than getting it wrong in front of a bunch of American teenagers. So, even all the facts that I think I know, I don’t want to say for fear of being wrong and becoming enemy #1 of everyone at the table.

2. You neighbors are qualified to ¬†punish you for your misplaced car. –¬†My earlier statement that you can park you car wherever you want is now being retracted. To my understanding, it is acceptable for the people around you punish you for your parking misconduct. There are varying degrees of car damage that you are to expect depending on your offense. Like blocking the walkway to an apartment building will get your car keyed, taking up too much room in a parking space, you loose your hubcaps. And from what Milan says, the guy who keeps parking his car halfway over the speed bump should expect to have his windshield wiper blades taken . So not only am I not a skilled enough driver to navigate Serbia, I can’t even trust myself enough to park a car somewhere.

1. Serbians are party people.-¬†I understand that you cannot categorize any group of people based on the actions of one, but I have yet to meet someone here (other than my Fiance) who doesn’t like to go out and throw down. Every person I’ve met so far has asked me how many times, and what places I’ve been out. I’ve recently learned that Belgrade is in the top three in the world for nightlife. So, if you’re special talent has anything to do with singing, dancing, drinking, or socializing, Serbia might be the place for you ūüôā

It’s been so nice to learn a little more about the culture in which my man grew up, and I hope that throughout our life together I can learn even more and maybe get a little better at the customs, and maybe one day learn cook the food.

Out about town

I have to apologize to my family for more or less falling off the face of the earth for a week. I promise I’m alive and well, but with Milan stuck at home the past week I didn’t feel like I had much to talk about. I don’t guess he was exactly stuck, but with 13¬†stitches he was ordered to not sweat. While my language skills might not be perfect, I do know that in Serbia¬†that translates into do not go outside during the day, or most of the night, or basically ever. But, he’s feeling better now and we’re back out and about to practice and other adventures.

Speaking of comebacks, we had our first Serbian track meet together yesterday, and after literally sitting on his backside for two weeks straight he still swept his “warm up” event the 100m. I, on the other hand had a bit of a rough start with the high jump. Unfortunately, our events were at the same time so I had to warm up and get acclimated by myself.

I¬†thoroughly¬†embarrassed¬†myself with my¬† first attempt, where I used my full competition minute to¬†figure out that it was my turn to jump. My second attempt where I actually jumped wasn’t much better. If that wasn’t enough, Mr. Miyagi was also the MC for the meet, so while he was repainting my failure with words he forgot that he’d left the microphone on. So anyone who hadn’t seen my display of un-athletic flailing, got to hear about it over the loudspeaker. Needless to say, I did my best to turn things around after that.

I’m not sure if it’s me or Serbia, but something about me being here has made me extra clumsy, even more so than at home. I’ve mentioned home much I love Serbian food- but it’s a wonder I even know what it tastes like with as much as I spill on the table. I would like to blame it on messy food, here you start almost every meal with soup, and after that I usually try to include ajvar on anything I can manage after that. Unfortuantely, while everyone else is the perfect picture of grace, you can always tell where I sit at the table because of the spots on the table cloth.

At least his family, being the wonderfully good- natured people that they are, have made a game out of guessing what shape my spilled food is. My latest masterpiece was a big ajvar smiley face, which I came to find out is one of the Serbian foods that stains. permanently. At least they have something to remember me by.

I also wish I could blame it on the fact that I’m so wrapped up in conversation that I can’t concentrate, but all the¬†syllables¬†are flying so fast that most of the time I don’t know where one word stops and the next starts. Milan says it seems like¬†I’m being creepy, because he thinks I understand all these things but don’t want to talk. His definition of me understanding is the fact that I can snag a few words out of an hours conversation to ask what they were actually talking about.

I am having a wonderful time, still seeing beautiful sights like the Temple downtown, and meeting the sweetest people.

I promise to update sooner than last time.

Heat wave

I used to think I knew what hot was. Then, I came to Serbia.

With temperatures climbing past 100 degrees¬†Fahrenheit today, I was given the perfect opportunity to use my Serb skills at dinner and make my second sentence. “Moje dupe jede stolicu,” or “my butt is eating the chair.” While this might not seem ladylike, there comes a certain point of sweaty that you don’t care, and must complain about it. Plus, we are in Serbia, so basically as long¬†as you are honest, and aren’t talking about the wrong sports club, people don’t mind. ( See mom, I really didn’t need¬†Cotillion¬†to impress my future in-laws.)

I finally got back into practicing after Milan started feeling better. I was welcomed back by getting to high jump on the first day. While I was busy being excited about it, I was informed that I’ll be competing next Wednesday. I’m not sure if this was to give me a full week to prepare, or panic, but I’ll see if it works when the time comes. I am learning a lot about jumps though. So far with high jump I’ve been told that I’m “too close.” Every time I jump. No matter where I think I might have taken off from, I am too close. Period. No, it’s not because I didn’t jump high enough to high jump. I was too close.

I also learned  some new drills to do that are pretty helpful. And, that when I do them, Mr. Miyagi says I look like a wounded deer. So much so apparently, that he took the time to walk to the opposite side of the stadium to ask how to tell me so in English.

Despite my attempts to bring new abs ¬†back to the states with me, I’m falling in love with Serbian food. Some of my favorites are przenija, which is a bacon, egg, and tomato, cheesy mess that somehow kind of tastes like American¬†barbecue. Palacinke, which are thin pancakes which you can dress up any way you like. Personally, I’m a pepperoni, bacon, ajvar, and hot sauce kind of girl. ¬†Not to take away from the sweet ones, that are also to die for. A little nutella, eurocream (and plazma of course) , and you’ve got yourself a little piece of heaven.

Happy 4th of July for all my Americanos ūüôā We got an 18 pound watermelon from a giant farmers market today for about $4.50, they must have known I wanted it for America’s birthday. Milan’s sweet mama also made me a cheesecake and grilled chicken for lunch today. I really think she’s a saint.

Shopping!

My shopping itch has finally been scratched. Milan took me to the shopping center ¬†Delta City ¬†tonight, and for the first half hour I was walking around like a turkey in the rain with my mouth open looking up at all the names of stores I couldn’t pronounce, trying to figure out how expensive things were inside. Having a profoundly straight male wearing basketball shorts and ¬†Micheal Jackson t-shirt as my shopping companion, Milan was not able to provide any insight on which stores I might like, or be able to afford. But, after I¬†deciphered¬†the mannequins in the displays outside, I realized that shopping in Serbia really isn’t that much different from shopping at home, except for one major difference.

At home, when you go into those stores that have a lot of trendy clothes for cheap, they usually also have a section of cheap trendy shoes. And in that section, there are a lot of picked over, tiny fairy shoes that very few people could actually wear on their feet. Not in Serbia, when I went to glance through the shoes I was pleasantly surprised to find they were mostly all made for people with big feet! Like me! But even upon discovering this, my first instinct was not to buy shoes, but pants.

If this magical land had shoes to fit big feet, they must have pants to cover long legs! Wrong.¬†I looked through stacks and stacks of pants before I finally found a pair of skinny jeans that could actually cover my calves. On my way to the register, I¬†happened¬†to glance at the size on the tag. Being a sensible young lady I realize that sometimes the time comes when you must go up a size in pants. But going from a size 4 to 36 in less than a month is a tough pill to swallow for anybody. Another thing I learned from the tag ¬†on the way out is that I had just purchased “push-up jeans.” I do know that there are all sorts of ¬†“push-up” clothing items for women, and I’m all for the fight against gravity, but this one is new to me. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Not only do I have a wonderful man for taking me through a three layer mall, but he also took me an hour an a half north of Belgrade¬†to Novi Sad last night for a Men’s World League volleyball game. Serbia vs Japan. ¬†I don’t know which part was more fun, watching the game, or trying to pronounce the last names of the players on both teams, most of which ¬†had no vowels. watching the game makes me miss my teammates back home, and actually getting to play indoors. But hopefully I can pick up a few new tricks before I come back.

 

Kisses and customs

Although I hate to admit it, Serbia has taught me that I am a terrible kisser. ¬†I’m still trying to nail down the details, but apparently in Serbia, to greet someone you are supposed to kiss them (x) number of times on the cheeks while you say hello. ¬†I was originally told that it’s supposed to be three times, but I discovered this was incorrect when I met the ¬†Serbian national record holder in Women’s pole vault. I went in for three when¬†she obviously only wanted two.¬†So now when I see her at practice EVERY day, she laughs and waves from a safe distance at the weird girl that kisses strangers too many times. ¬†But even now that I’ve learned how to anticipate how many kisses each person was going to go for, I have no idea how I’m supposed to know which cheek they want first. I just can’t seem to figure out how to bob when they weave.

Last night, we went to some family friends’ house for supper. I fared well enough with ¬†the lady, even though she threw me a curve by kissing me multiple times on the same cheek. It was the man who was the problem. Neither one of us bobbed, and we both weaved. ¬†I ended up right in the middle of his fabulous mustache, while he kissed me on the chin. There aren’t enough ways for me to say how embarrassed I was, but fortunately I showed enough love to his mustache that he let me off the hook. ¬†He said he liked me because I’m a blonde- well, at least I did something right.

Another hidden danger is the “cheers” or “Ziveli” before drinking. This is another rule without rules here in Serbia. Yes, it¬†usually¬†happens ¬†when alcohol is involved, but there is no¬†guarantee. When someone at the table selects you for “Ziveli” you must make eye contact, and clink your glass with them and whomever else they silently select to participate, after you have touched your glass with everyone else participating, most of the time everyone at the table, you must take a big gulp from your drink.¬†No one cares if you are actually thirsty or if you just finished your 5th glass of water and cannot possibly stand another sip. You will drink, or be rude. Now, I think that this is a great idea, and it does make you feel awfully welcome, especially in a new home. But, if you are not well practiced, this can be another way to keep up your appearance as the silly American, especially if you’ve just kissed your host’s mustache.