Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bohall's Four Seasons

During the summer of 2008 I rediscovered Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Ironically, it was the Winter movement that especially caught my attention around the time Enoh was born in August. Ever since, I've associated it with his birth.

Vivaldi - Four seasons winter

Enoh is our summer baby.

Taken summer 2009 in Croatia

Ian became our winter baby in January of 2010 (pictured in front of Enoh here). 
Taken winter 2012 in Croatia

In September of 2011, Emily became our autumn baby. 
Taken Fall 2012 in Massachusetts

And arriving in Spring of 2013: Baby Bohall number 4!

Of course we didn't plan it this way. But given the four seasoned climate in Osijek where they have been/will be born, it's certainly appropriate. 

In addition to living as an American in Croatia, being a father of a "baby bunching" family can sometimes be a shocking experience. As I mentioned in the introduction to my blog when my wife was pregnant with our first - new life always brings significant change. For our family, each addition has brought incredible joy. 

We're looking forward to our fourth season, knowing he or she will be no exception.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do You Like Croatia?

I like Croatia.

So when I received an email from a representative of likecroatia.hr wondering if they could ask me a few questions about living as an American in Croatia, I was happy to oblige.

The thing is, if you've stumbled across this blog because you're planning on traveling to Croatia or even moving to Croatia and you want more information - this blog won't help you that much. Let me suggest you head on over to likecroatia.hr.

They've got a slick, easy to navigate website that includes daily updated stories and articles, a way to book a flight, and a simple restaurant search app for the iphone. If you are planning on traveling to Croatia for any reason, likecroatia.hr should be your number one resource.

That being said, let me extend an open invitation to visit the Culture Shock weblog whenever you feel so inclined. Like any good Croatian host would say, you don't need to call or even knock. Just come on in. Despite the coffee break I've been on, I'll get back to work real soon. A new post about raising bi-lingual children is forthcoming. We also need to discuss how entering the EU will change Croatia - especially the smaller towns and villages. On a more personal side, the next post will tell you what in the world Vivaldi's Four Seasons has to do with the Bohalls.

Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coffee Break

"One regular coffee!" the newest occupant of the cafe bellowed before even sitting down. He said it as if the simplicity of his order justified the interruption it caused the waitress and the other patrons. His friend quickly corrected him. "No...no, no. one irregular coffee!" he shouted with a straight face, mocking how seriously the first character took his order.

I chuckled with some of the others. Of course there's no such thing as an irregular coffee. But is there even such a thing as "regular coffee"? In Boston regular coffee includes cream and sugar. They'll give you black coffee in other parts of the U.S. if you order regular. I'm not sure what the customer in our cafe was picturing when he ordered but I would guess he received an espresso with milk (pictured above). In other words, what's regular is not always easily defined.

When I first conceptualized a culture shock blog I did so in the strict rubric of my "regular" American experience against the "irregular" culture I was constantly interacting with in Croatia. Many posts certainly take that form. But the more I think about it, and the longer I live here, the more I'm convinced that my perspective is not uniquely American nor do the majority of Americans necessarily share my worldview. Therefore, depending on your background, the contents of this blog may not be the regular coffee you thought you were getting when you first arrived.

For example, when I discuss learning a foreign language, especially Croatian, most Americans won't be hanging to my every word. When I write about finding the cross, I may only find an audience made up of those concerned about following the One who made it significant. My eating habits, my driving experiences and my opinions are all things the typical American may not identify with - even if they were planning on coming to Croatia or are already here - because we come from different viewpoints. And the posts written from my kids' perspective will only be interesting if you have one of two last names.

Obviously, there are a lot of reasons I blog. But I'm finding that I'm primarily interested in tracking how my (sometimes irregular) experiences change me. What do I learn from my children? How do those closest to me influence my life? Does the faith that I grew up with develop? How? In what ways does the culture I live in shape my values? Those are some of the questions I'm concerned with.

They aren't unusual questions. They are prompts many of us pause to think about no matter where we live, what we believe or what we do. They provide a normal context for thought. They are part of an ongoing  conversation to which others greatly contribute.

So as time moves on, this blog will inevitably change. The posts are already becoming less "American in Croatia" and more "this is what I experienced/learned today". They aren't regular or irregular. Life, as it turns out, is a little grayer than that. The stories are what bring color to our lives. They've been the part of this blog I enjoy the most. And I hope to share more of them in the future.

So if you've been around here for awhile, thanks for reading. If you're new, take a browse through past posts. Regardless of how long you've been here, grab a coffee and feel free to share your thoughts. Whether they're regular, irregular, or somewhere in between, they are always welcome.