September 1st

Some of you might be wondering what I’ve been up to since I haven’t been blogging as religiously as I had in Ukraine. I know, I know, shame on me! But really, I’ve been a little lost — lost in lala letter land (feverishly practicing my lettering skills) and lost in America and what exactly I even write about anymore. Maybe I can’t write without Ukraine. Maybe Ukraine was my writer’s mojo, for it certainly did supply me with endless stories of drunken dealings, cultural confusions, and transportation trepidation.

Now my life is…is….boring? Okay, boring might not be the right word. But it’s certainly much less exciting and spontaneous (not that every day of my life in Ukraine was just that). Really, I shouldn’t say life is boring per se because in reality I just moved to a new city and started my graduate studies in Book Arts — something that couldn’t be more perfect for my interests. My studies in and of themselves are pretty freaking awesome!!! and I’m already in love with my classes (Letterpress I, Bookbinding I, and Calligraphy Blackletter hands) and the work I’ll be doing this semester.

But other than that, uuuuh, I have no life. Ha. It’s true.  But let me tell ya, my lettering skills have improved significantly because of it! I haven’t been here very long and I’m no newbie to moving somewhere new and ‘integrating’, but making friends here seems so daunting right now.  Amongst volunteers, you were basically all insta-friends, though closer to some than others. Maybe I’ve forgotten how to have a normal social life…or have normal anything…though I’m not sure normal is what I want anyways.

Yesterday was the first U of Iowa football game which meant that there were about 4 times the number of (most likely underage) undergrads day drinking than entire population of my village. If going to Walmart made me freak-out, you can bet I didn’t really care to be around tailgating mayhem. So like a true loser I walked from my apartment to campus to get some art supplies for homework. Ended up forgetting my wallet (d’oh!) and had to walk back thinking I’d avoid the stadium but ended up on what is apparently THE tailgating street. Nothing reminded me more of just how out-of-place I’ve felt since coming home than walking against the tailgating flow as the only sober person. It felt like everyone was a blur around me, a blur that I don’t feel like I can really relate to (well, actually, I was probably the blur to them). Before even moving to campus, while I was applying, I had premonitions that I’d feel pretty out of sorts in this super American environment. I knew, even then, that this would be a major change so it will take some time.

While I can’t relate to the blur of tipsy tailgaters or the guy wearing a beer box on his head, I can relate to geeking-out with my fellow classmates on all things book. My fellow classmates get me on that level at least and it’s great to be around art people again. And I really do see potential friendships there (I mean, our classes are pretty damn small so I hope we’re friends!). Also, the internet tells me there’s a Peace Corps association for the University of Iowa that I’m hoping to get involved with and meet people that way. So I know I’ll have friends here eventually (there is hope!).

But for now it’s a whole lot of missing my Peace Corps friends and Ukraine, still feeling slightly out-of-place, figuring out this blog, yearning to travel already, loving my classes, and of course lots of lettering practice.

Now, enjoy some photos.

2 thoughts on “September 1st

  1. Kristen,

    You’re a pretty incredible human being and I appreciate you sharing your transitional experience as a RPCV. Boy, no one prepared this mama for that one. I have a lot of respect and compassion for you. I love your life! It’s beautiful! Come visit me in CA… Although we’ve never met in person, you have a Peace Corps family here.

    (Morgan’s mom)

  2. Great photos, Kristen. Hang in there — you’ll re-integrate soon enough (or maybe not soon enough, but you will eventually). Your classes sound amazing and I’m glad you’re enjoying your program!

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