Tuesday, January 31, 2012

House and Language

Zagreb update.

We have sent our request for needs and wants in our housing. We wish we could do the House Hunters International thing and go there ourselves to find our place. However we would like to have things settled before so we that when we get there we can focus on other things, such as finding the local markets, restaurants, figuring out how we get to work, and seeing some of the sites. So we will be doing a lot of thing digitally. There is lady at the school whose job it is to look for housing for us. She will be sending us pictures or video of the houses or apartments that match our needs and wants. Currently it’s a renters market there, so we will see what we end up with. Katie and I don’t want to be overwhelming spoiled Americans either. We understand they handle space and living quite differently than the states. However Zagreb living is said to be more spacious than other European cites such as Paris.

I’m coming along with learning the Croatian language and it’s been fun trying to think and trying to say things in context around the house. I’m currently on lesson 7 of 30. Each lesson is around 30 minutes long, however it takes me about an hour or more the first time I listen. Sometimes I split it over two days. Then I review the lesson, which takes about 45 minutes. I spend time pausing, thinking, answering and then hearing the correct answer. Then I get to the point of mastery where I can listen to it straight through without pausing. Then I move on to the next lesson. It’s cool sometimes because I will go to bed trying to think of the words I have learned during the day and I can’t seem to find them. Then the next morning the word is there and I’m able to say and think it quickly. The other day Katie asked me, “Do you know what time it is?” I replied quickly, “Ne znam” which means I don’t know. It came out of my mouth as fast as my thought. At first I didn’t know I said it. I asked Katie, “Did I say “ne znam?” She looked at me and smiled. J Crazy cool experience.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I have been inspired by literature…

I have been inspired by literature… Those of you that have known me as a young man might be thrown off by this statement. However it's amazingly true that a boy with a learning disability struggling to graduate high school with 1.8 grade point average has read over 50 books in the last 4 years but its true. How did I do this? I cheated…;) "If you're not cheating you're not trying" I listened to them all. I'm a subscriber to audible.com and I download 2 books a month. I then put them on my iPhone which I take everywhere. I listen on my way to work and back, driving, walking, riding my bike, or taking the bus. I also listen during errands: dishes, walking the dog, getting water or mail at work, and exercising. In addition I listened to the books on 2x the speed which takes a while of get used to, but your mind adapts quickly. Through this I can't explain the amount of insight and knowledge I have gained because of this discovery of learning. The only way of explaining the transformation is if you could imagine getting off an airplane and started understanding the new foreign language where you arrived at. Because so much of my life I felt that I was in the dark. I couldn't access information like many of my peers could. It would be like not having the internet today while everyone around you does. But now I take another step forward in reading and writing, because I'm around it so much at work and on the internet.

Anyhow here are the books that have influenced me in my decisions to take bigger and more dangerous risks in life. As well as a brief summary of how they inspired me. :)

    • Into the Wild - Christopher McCandless's dangerous sense of adventure and passion for independence and travel.
    • Where Men Win Glory - Even when life is comfortable and plentiful, you should still follow your heart no matter the cost.
    • Neither Here Nor There - Bill's fabulously fun story of his experiences of him as a young and old man, backpacking Europe with his friend Kats.
    • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - "How I Learned to Live a Better Story" Donald Miller looked inwardly at his own life that seemed unmeaningful and uninteresting and then decided to train to ride his bike across the US. Through this, he learned to live a better story.
    • A Moveable Feast - Hemingway living in Paris :)
    • The Greater Journey - This story is about Americans going to Paris to study, learn, live, and come back to give Americans back home a better life.
    • Steve Jobs - Responding to failure, trusting your own genius, and having the persistence to see it through.
    • Teacher Man - Frank McCourt taught me to push myself and my students "toward freedom and push fear into the corner".
    • The Absolutely True Diary of the Part Time Indian - Taught me about self discovery and adapting to differences. Being the true native that he was, he expanded on his life outside the reservation.
    • The Bible - Understanding that God will always take care of me, and the amazing stories of people who have decided to change their life because they heard the words "follow me."
    • Brothers K - Never giving up the fight in life and doing what you love. My learning disability and just finding a way to overcome the odds.

I'm planning on listening to some of these books again when I'm there in Zagreb, so I can go more in depth in my journal writing. Some of these books were very inspiring because of their own journal writings or they wrote about someones else's journal. Writing down these moments helps you to remember your choices and why you chose that path. To that end that's why I'm going to be blogging through this experience. So I look back someday and remember moments, and also start a dialog with my friends and family. Hopefully to inspire you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How did we get here? (Sam's Viewpoint) Part 1

There are lot of factors that make up a difficult decision in life. This a simple story of the way we decided to drop everything that is comfortable in our lives and move1/3 of away around the world to find a new life.

I believe when God closes one door he opens another for a reason, and this opportunity to move to Zagreb Croatia is just that. The door God closed on us was having kids at this time. The treatment such as IVF couldn't be justified in our hearts because of the cost. I know that might sound crazy to some, because they have a child of their own where they can look into their child's eyes and you'd give the world for that child. We couldn't gamble with that much money at 60% success rate of IVF vs adopting a child that needs us at 100%. However to that end we didn't feel that we were in a place to go through the adoption process either. We just got done dealing with infertility issues emotionally so we looked elsewhere to fill our family with happiness and life.

The passion that I have for Croatia is a connection that I have received from my Aunt Catherine Morovich (who was born and raised on Bainbridge Island) and her son and daughter, John and Joanne. Growing up, I witnessed their involvement in leading a group called the Seattle Junior Tanburitzans. John and Joanne teach Croatian folk dancing and music while Catherine orchestrates behind the scenes.

However most of my inspiration stems from my own travels to Croatia, from a trip that Katie I took a couple of summers ago. The scenery there just blew my artistic mind. Every time I turned my head I was delighted by the architecture, cobble stone streets, vineyards, cafes, amazing light during all parts of the day, the seaside, the list goes on. I truly fell in love with this land at first sight. I'm counting the days when I get to go back in July.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How did we get here? (Katie's Viewpoint)

When I met Sam, I literally did not know where Croatia was. Really. But being introduced to the Mirkoviches is like being introduced to Croatia. They are very involved in preserving their heritage: their food, customs, songs, language.

So three years ago, we spent 3 weeks retracing both of our roots. We spent a week in Croatia (for Sam), a week in Ireland (for Katie) and a week in Italy (because it's Italy.) It was a once in a lifetime trip-or so we thought.

Sam definitely caught the travel bug. As soon as we got home, he was already planning our next trip. Then he really started talking crazy...what if we applied to teach overseas? Now we've always "talked" about doing this. In the same way that you "talk" about jumping out of an airplane or "talk" about opening up a little bakery/coffee shop/gallery. They're fun to talk about because you know they'll never happen. But if there's one thing that has become very clear to me, it's that Sam is very persistent. :)

We started looking online, talking to people who knew about teaching overseas and learned about International School Services. Last winter, we filled out our application, paid our dues, and were looking for openings around the world.

Let me back up and explain what the last three years have included for us. They've been difficult. Our trip to Europe was supposed to be our last hurrah before having kids. We tried for a year, started seeing a specialist and had 4 false pregnancies. It was a very dark time, especially for me.

I was (and still am) working in a very challenging school. I felt stuck. I felt like I would be there forever. Although I love the people that I work with and I love my kids, I really wanted to be doing something else. Originally I hoped to get pregnant and be a stay at home mom. But that obviously wasn't the plan.

We decided at the beginning of this school year to take a year off, reevaluate and figure out how we wanted to proceed in our lives. Should we move? Adopt? Do foster care? Everything seemed up in the air.

Then one night in November, Sam woke me up in the middle of the night to say that there was an art job opening in Zagreb. Obviously, I mumbled something meaningless. rolled over and fell back asleep. But the next morning, I realized it wasn't a dream. Sam's dream job was available. We applied for the job and followed it up with an email. We didn't hear back from them for a month.

Then out of the blue, we got an email at the beginning of December asking if we wanted to interview with the American International School of Zagreb via Skype. Three days later, we were Skyping with the head of the school in Atlanta and the principal in Zagreb (technology is amazing.) That Thursday, they emailed to offer us the job. We talked to family and friends. We prayed. Sam made all kinds of spreadsheets. And we asked if we could bring Lucy. On our seventh anniversary, we emailed them back and formally accepted the job.

I have a very blessed life. I have wonderful husband, a great house, dear friends, and a job. I have nothing to run away from here in Yakima. That is not why we're moving to Zagreb. We are moving because we feel like it is an opportunity to explore the world, be challenged in new ways, and have unforgettable experiences.

This blog is for those of you who love us and will be here to support us. We look forward to taking you with us on this journey.