Contributed by Susie Xu. Check out more of their posts from this summer here.


n. The area half shaded  

[PSA: Deep thoughts ahead.]

Penumbra—I’ve been reading recently and this word caught my eye. Literally, it means an area half hidden by shadows, half illuminated by light. Metaphorically, it can be used to describe something complex and uncertain.

It’s an apt description of how I feel in Serbia. Sometimes I think I understand what’s happening around me, and the other half I’m just letting the waves carry me wherever it’s going.

I think I’ve hit stage 4 of culture shock. Stage 4 is when I’m starting to confront deep cultural and personal issues—at least according to Google. (Who knows? Last time I looked up things on Google, Google doctors told me I had cancer. #whoops)

But I’m kind of sifting through emotions and differences and really just trying to piece together what I’ve got. I’ve got the catcalling and patriarchy down pat. I’ve devised plans to respond to ridiculous calls—of course keeping my safety in check. (Still sucks though, let’s be real.)

I get along with my new coworkers so well. They’re amazing people and they do amazing things. But the more I work here and see their hard work and their successes, oddly enough, the more I don’t think I fit to work for an NGO. Working for an NGO takes a specific type of person, and I don’t think I’m that person. To be in these organizations are not as ideal and peachy as documentaries portray them to be. You have to invest nearly your entire being into your beneficiaries and I can already see the burn out.

I think that’s what has hit me the hardest and cast the shadow upon my previously illuminated view. The struggles that come with being an NGO, especially somewhere like Serbia where not even the citizens really trust or even like NGOs, I can feel the tiredness and the frustration.

There’s a shadow hovering over the amazing good that they’re doing.

Photo cred: Susie Xu
Photo cred: Susie Xu

But otherwise, everything else is wonderful. I’m really nailing the laid back culture here. It’s a goal to go to a new coffee place every two days and I’m on a roll. Check out the Tumblr worthy picture, at a Café called “Hashtag.” #loveit

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend.



2 thoughts on “#rainydaythoughts

  1. Susie – I want to caution you not to paint all NGOs with one brush. You’re seeing some aspects of a work environment that you think are not the right fit for you, but those characteristics don’t necessarily apply to all of a particular category. I’m pretty sure there is burn out in non-NGOs, as well : ) There are a million different kinds of organizations to work for out there. Be focusing on qualities of a workplace you like or don’t like instead of ruling out particular categories or industries.

    PS – Your writing style completely cracks me up. It’s like you’re sitting here in my office talking to me : )


    1. Ciao! eh si, ma secondo noi il natale è lo spirito , l&;ea#atmosf3r9, più che le giornate previste da calendario!con questi cuoricini iniziamo benone: dolci, friabili e con una glassa color….rosso Natale :)un bacione


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