slowly settling in

You’d think that I’d remember that jet lag, and culture change, is hard. No matter how much you’re looking forward to the change, no matter how good you are about sleep and hydration and food and melatonin. It’s hard. And, it turns out, it’s especially hard when you’re doing it mostly on your own.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that it’s been a bit of a rough week. I’m not a loner at heart, and I didn’t realize how much I’d relied on Alex’s (and Lane’s) company when I was here last time. I know I’ll connect with people here over time, but this week has been hard emotionally. I was honestly unprepared for how much I’d miss Scott. During the day I’m generally fine–it’s beautiful, and there are things to do and people to see. At night, however, alone in the apartment, I’ve struggled a bit. I’m hoping that as I get over the jet lag and feel physically better that I’ll feel emotionally better, as well.

That said, I’m finally starting feel a bit settled in. The suitcases have been unpacked and the clothes put away in closets and drawers. The kitchen is stocked with essentials and the freezer holds just-in-case proteins for days I don’t want to go to the grocery store. I’ve figured out the most efficient routes to and from work and the old town (which are slightly different this time around now that the construction near the apartment is done). I’ve nearly finished my first week of classes. And today I climbed up Mt Srdj for the first time this year.  Exhausting (because I’m still woefully out of shape, but worth it:

The photo at the top of this post was taken about 2/3 of the way up the mountain. The old town is straight ahead, obviously. To the right of it is Fort Lovrjenac. And on the far right, just below the parking lot, you can juuuust see the edge of RIT’s roof. 🙂 You can see a bit of the trail at the bottom of the frame; it’s not too steep, but it’s very rocky.

Happily, it’s been mostly sunny this week, which has made it a bit easier to walk around (and do my first load of laundry, since I don’t have a clothes dryer). That will be changing tomorrow, though, and I expect my new rain boots will be getting some use!

Which leads me to the things I’m really glad I brought with me this time! Top of the list: lots of comfortable shoes. Flat and low-heeled boots (good for descending and climbing cobblestone stairs), hiking boots (which made climbing Sr? today a whole lot easier), scrumptiously comfortable and stylish black Merrell clogs (I cannot believe I just referred to a pair of clogs as stylish, but they really are, even though the photo below doesn’t really show them off properly!), and the aforementioned (zebra striped!) rain boots, which almost make me look forward to the upcoming rain. There are actually quite a few more pairs of shoes and sandals that aren’t shown here. I found that last time I really missed having shoe choices, and not a single shoe store in Dubrovnik seemed to carry my size (US size 6, European size 36).

Shoes!

Also on the “glad I remembered to bring it” list are the two warm coats (it gets pretty chilly here at night at this time of year–mid-30s ºF, and there’s even snow forecast for one morning next week), and the two fleece jackets (which I only wear at home, because women here simply don’t wear fleece, but which help keep me warm in my not-so-warm apartment). Also the yarn, which I haven’t started crocheting with yet, but which I’m looking at longingly, and which I plan to start turning into scarves and slippers this weekend when the heavy rains come and I’m a little more caught up on course prep. The medications, because even OTC stuff requires a trip to the pharmacy here. And the no-foreign-transaction-fee cards (Amex and credit union Visa).

On the “knew I needed it but still forgot to pack it” list are my isotoner smartphone-friendly gloves, and a bottle of Frank’s hot sauce. Will have to have those shipped to me ASAP. And another jug of maple syrup to give to my landlady as a gift.

And on the “knew I needed it but couldn’t bring it” list is an electric blanket or mattress pad–which really needs to be designed for 220v. Happily, Amazon.co.uk had one for a reasonable price, and it’s due to arrive here in Croatia on Monday or Tuesday. (I have no idea why Amazon.com won’t ship to Croatia; they ship to most other EU countries, and I thought once Croatia joined the EU they’d ship here too. But no.)

Things I should have remembered about living here but didn’t include the need to use fabric softener when you’re washing jeans (because line-dried jeans without fabric softener are uncomfortably cardboard-like), and the need to use some kind of moisturing bath gel–not just for the skin benefits, but also because it keeps the tub a lot cleaner.

I’ve done a little bit of cooking since I’ve been here, but a lot of my meals (and all of my lunches) have been coming from local bakeries, which sell a variety of delicious savory treats as well as bread and pastries. My favorites include a puff pastry slice that’s filled with potatoes and onions, a calzone-like pastry with tomato sauce, cheese, and ham, and a sort of pig-in-blanket thing that has a sausage and peppered cheese inside. I’ve also discovered paprika-flavored potato chips, which are *awesome*. These are not the world’s healthiest meals, I know, but I figure with the 400+ steps up to my apartment every day (and the occasional mountain hike) I’m burning most of it off! It’s hard to motivate myself to cook when it’s just me, but I’m okay with splurging on take out (especially since the pig-in-blanket and loaf of fresh bread I bought on the way home tonight cost me a whopping $2…).  I’m also going to need to restock some items in the kitchen that seem to have disappeared over the past two years, and replace the electric kettle. (It’s the same one that was here two years ago, and it’s once again caked with mineral sediment, and is also a bit moldy in places as well.)

That’s about it for tonight. There’s course prep yet to do, and fuzzy blankets on my bed that promise to keep me warm after I’ve finished my work. I won’t be blogging daily, but I have started a new photo project (since I’m not doing #365grateful this year) called #dailydubrovnik, which I’m sharing on Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook.

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