Kidnapped by the Kind and Cultural Incompetence
I am now three weeks into my Bosnian language classes. I have a lovely teacher, who treats me like her daughter. This has its advantages and disadvantages. Adavantages: she is quite willing to go over her 1 and 1/2 hours of allotted class time and teach me various Bosnian traditional things, i.e., making Turkish coffee. This also has its disadvantages. Sometimes she stays for four hours, and I can't figure out how to, politely, turn her away. She's lonely and has a doozy of a war story, including the loss of a beloved son (from cancer, not war, but there's even a story in that). That's why I feel "kidnapped by the kind." It doesn't hurt to provide a shoulder to someone who needs it, and I get a valuable experience. Such is the social worker in me, I guess.
A month in and I have finally had my first cultural meltdown. I was in a grocery store, trying to make the clerk understand that I only wanted 1/2 lb (kilo) of gouda and, instead, I walked away with one whole kilo. That's a lot of cheese. Gouda knows what I'll do with it. (Hardee-har-har). I almost cried. It's tough when every move you make, from buying groceries to checking your e-mail, becomes a minefield for cultural miscommunication. Alas, I am "Engleski" and am slow to understand the Sarajevan's native tongue.