Monday, April 30, 2007

I Know... I'm a Bum

Hey. i know ive been really terrible about updating this blog. Ive never been much of a journal person. I was hoping i could do it for this trip, but that seems to have failed. So Belgrade is long gone. I am now in Mostar, Bosnia after spending a week in Dubrovnik Croatia. We leave tomorrow morning for Sarajevo, where we will be living for the remainder of the trip. Dubrovnik was beautiful, and Mostar has been an interesting experience as well. This trip has allowed me to learn and do so much that i would never be doing anywhere else. I dont think i can sufficiantly sun up the last three weeks in a single blog entry, and i also cannot figure out how to upload pictures onto blogspot, but if you would like to look at pictures:
Belgrade/ Serbia:


So those are what ive posted thus far. Ill try to get back on the horse and blog a little more regularly for the next month or so depending on internet connection. Hope all is well where you all are, things are great her.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

National Bank and Serbian Mexican Food

Apr 2

We keep getting to do the coolest things as a group while we are here. Today we were given a tour of the National Bank of Serbia. We started out by getting a lecture about Serbia’s economic status from Radovan Jelasic, the governor of the bank. He talked about Serbia’s chances of getting into the EU in the near future. He had a ton of economic graphs and statistics that I didn’t even half understand, but it was really cool because he is a hugely influential man in Serbia right now. After Jelasic’s lecture we were given a tour of the National Bank premise. It is a huge beautiful building. Our tour guide also took us to their museum of money. Serbia had one of the biggest inflation problems in world in the 1990s. They had the 500 billion dinar bills on display that they were using at the time. That’s some pretty bad inflation. We also got to get a 1 dinar note with our face on it which was pretty silly, but still fun! After the Bank we went to Que Pasa?, one of Serbia’s few Mexican food restaurants. It turned out there was only three Mexican food options on the menu, but I got some pretty delicious pasta. There wasn’t enough room for everyone at one table, so Bryan and I sat at our own table. It felt kind of like a weird date, but we had a really great conversation so it was ok. After Que Pasa? Matt, Levi and I bought some postcards from a street vendor (if you’re lucky you might get one!), and then headed back to their dorm. Matt went to the post office, and I fell asleep trying to read. I woke up with a start when Levi left the room. I thought that I was late for class, and was stressed out that I wasn’t in my own room, but then I realized it was four in the afternoon. It was a pretty unpleasant way to wake up. When Matt got back we all went over to the Speak Easy, our new favorite internet café and played cards. When we got hungry we decided to go over to a restaurant we walked by often, but never actually went into. The menu turned out not to be in English, and our waiter didn’t speak any English at all. Bryan and Levi ended up getting a kilo of lamb between the two of them, it was SO much food! It was a really great time. After that we tried to go back to their dorm to hang out, but the doorman wouldn’t let me go upstairs to hang out, so I just grabbed a bus home and went to sleep.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

Jat Klub

Apr 1

So the “Jat Klub” turned out to be some guy’s apartment on the third floor of some building downtown. We had to wander around quite a bit trying to find the place, but we finally found it and it turned out to be a really great time. When we first showed up there we were a little out of place. Everyone was pretty dressed up, and older. Mirit has been doing capoeria, a Brazilian martial art, with a group in Belgrade and a couple of them were there, which made things a little less awkward. When we heard that the party was going to be a dance spectacle we thought that it meant that we would be dancing a lot. We were all standing around kind of awkwardly, the only ones who were dancing, and a woman came and cleared a circle in the middle of the dance floor. We weren’t quite sure what was happening, but then 8 or so people came out into the circle and did a salsa dance routine. It was really cool. A little later on there was a capoeria demonstration as well. Mirit wasn’t prepared, but we made her perform as well. We hung out at the party for a while, met some cool guys from Montenegro. It was really fun. The weirdest thing was that everyone there spoke really great English. When we got sick of suffocating in everyone’s cigarette smoke we decided to go to a Salsa dancing club called Havana. When we got there it turned out that the club was going to close in about half an hour, so most of us just decided to call it a night. Scott, Kelly, and Andy went inside, but the rest of the group just hailed a cab and went home. It was a really fun night with some really great people. Last night was the first night I really got to hang out with any of the group that wasn’t Levi and Matt, and it was really great time. I’m so glad I did it. Today was just a day of recovery from being out late last night. I woke up late and hung out with Scott. He took me to go get a giant hamburger and then we went to the citadel to read for class tomorrow. It was a gorgeous day. I ended up lying in the sun, doing a little reading, but mostly napping and taking pretty pictures. Later, I met the Lola boys at their dorm and we went to a club where Bryan’s friend was DJing. It was interesting. After an hour or so there I decided to go home and get some sleep before class tomorrow.



Mar 31

Today Matt, Levi and I bummed around their dorm most of the day. We just hung out and read and recovered from being out so late the night before discussing the meaning of life. When they went over to an internet café to check their emails, I decided it was time to head back to my dorm for a shower. I cleaned up, took a nap, and then decided to see what everyone else was up to. Claire, one of the girls on our trip met a guy this morning at the internet café in our neighborhood and he invited her to a party at the “Jat Klub” tonight (Yacht Club). She put us all on the list, so a big group of us are going. Claire was told by the guy who invited her that it is going to be a “dance spectacle”. I’m excited to get out and hang out with the rest of the group. I hope its going to be a fun time!


The meaning of life??

Mar 30

Last night was a late night, but that was ok because we didn’t have class today. The discotheque was really fun. I didn’t meet very many Serbians, only a few, but I did have a fun time with our group. When we woke up we went downtown and met up with Milo and Matt, the other guys from the Lola dorm because they didn’t end up going out with us. We didn’t want to spend another day hanging around the room, and it was a gorgeous day, so we went out. We first got lunch at this nice place in one of the many parks in the area. It was my first real sit down meal since I think I’ve been here. After lunch we went to St. Mark’s, a big Orthodox church near the dorm. It is absolutely beautiful. Orthodox churches are all built in a very similar fashion with beehive-like ceilings. It makes for a very intimidating and grand place of worship. The park surrounding St. Mark’s is full of vendors selling things. I bought a jar of honey, which is the most popular thing to sell in the park. For good reason too, it’s the best honey I’ve ever had. I also bought a cool wool hat from a really old Serbian woman. There is a huge outdoor market very close to where we were, so we went and wandered around that. Both Bryan and Levi bought half a kilo of really good looking cheese. We went back to the boy’s dorm, and feasted on bread, cheese and special Serbian paprika spread. We went over to a small bar/club near their dorm that they frequent. We had a long in depth philosophical discussion, which was really interesting, and then went back to the dorms and went to sleep.


Monday, April 2, 2007

Serbian Football and Riot Police!!

Mar 29

Oh wow. The football game was so much fun. It was an amazing experience. About 10 of us ended up going. We all decided to meet the downtown boys at their dorm and head over to the stadium from there. The bus ride over to the boy’s dorm goes by the gypsy slums and bombed out buildings downtown that have not been rebuilt. Seeing this very different side of Belgrade made me realize that I am in fact in a very poor country that is recovering from a devastating war. It was definitely a reality check. People told us that we can just buy tickets at the door so that’s was the plan. We took a trolley from old town. Some Serbian guys on the bus asked us where we were from. When they finally understood that we were from “big Washington” they asked us where we were going. We told them we were going to see the game. One of the guys was so excited: “Oh I see, you are coming to the fight!!” As we approached the stadium things got a little more intimidating. There were riot police surrounding the area by about two blocks. They were in full riot gear. When we got off the bus we managed to lose half the group, but figured that they could figure it out. Out side of and surrounding the stadium there were mounted police, police with dogs, and of course many more riot police, which made me a little nervous to be honest. We were a little late, and just bought tickets from scalpers for face value which was a first. Levi, Matt and I stuck together. We ended up standing in the back during the whole game. It was still so much fun. Everyone yelled, and sang songs. The score was tied one to one, and I managed to film Serbia’s only goal on my camera! Super cool! We all met back up at the end and went home to sleep. Today we had class all day long. It was kind of painful, but I stuck it out by reminding myself that today was our Friday and we didn’t have class the next day. Our professors are quite susceptible to getting off track and going on a long tangent, which we have all lovingly named a “Whack Attack” (because the professors are Norman and Zurica Wacker). I am actually really excited for the literature class, but a little disappointed that we will only have it for an hour a week, once a week. When class was finally out, everyone hung out for a while and took naps. Then I went shopping downtown with two of the girls on the trip: Monika and Kelly. They are nice girls. There is apparently a thing at the student discotheque (club) on campus that everyone is planning on going to. I hope that it gives us a chance to talk to and meet some native Serbians our own age.



Serbia's Art Movement since WWII

Mar 28

The late start today was a nice break. I got to sleep in until 10 and take a nice shower. The guest speaker’s name was Aleksander Macašev. He is a popular Serbian graphic designer and contemporary artist. He told us the history of art in the region starting after WWII. It was really interesting. He was obviously very outspoken. Some people in the class thought that he was offensive, but I thought that he was really great. He also showed us some of his art, which if you are interested you can find on One of the projects that he did that I found particularly interesting was his Joseph Goebbles poster project. You can see it at It was a statement about the media and how anything can be bought or sold. I think that there were definite flaws in some of his arguments, but for the most part he was really inspirational and a really enthusiastic, fun speaker. Tonight is going to be really great. We have plans to go see the national Serbia team play soccer against Portugal. I’m really excited. Going to a European “football” game is going to be a really great time!


"We are closed becuase it is Tuesday!"

(Ok so now i have had an internet connection. Im just bad about updating. So here are some. Not completely up to date though!)

Mar 27

This morning was an early morning. We all met downstairs in the dorm and walked to the B92 headquarters. B92 is an independent Serbian media source in Belgrade, and we were fortunate enough to be given a tour of the building, and the company itself. Saša (pronounced Sasha), one of the original founders of B92 showed us around. We got to see everything: where the daily TV and radio shows were produced and filmed/aired, to the financial department. He told us the history of independent media in Serbia before, during and after the wars. It was really interesting, definitely made me want to be an independent journalist. Not only am I in an amazing part of the world, with a really rich history, but I am getting to do things like tour the premise of the one of the most popular TV/Radio stations in Serbia. The opportunities that our group is getting on this trip are incredible. The tour lasted 2 hours and then we were let go. Most of the group went out to lunch at a cafeteria that was right around the corner from the B92 building. After that we decided to check out the “Mercosur”: the biggest shopping mall in Belgrade. It has a grocery store so I bought some food and school supplies. After the Mercosur we all walked back to our dorms and hung out for a while. After that, Mirit, a friend from the program and I went back to the Lola dorms to meet the boys over there. We met two of them and decided to try and go clubbing. We wandered around a lot and got turned away from a couple clubs because it was Tuesday and nothing was happening. So we ended up wandering around, getting mildly lost, and then going to a couple of cafes. At the end of the night we ended up at a cool Arabic themed teahouse. It was like something from Arabian Nights. Mirit and I took a cab home (it costs only about $5 each to catch a cab from downtown back to Novi Beograd). We have a guest speaker in class tomorrow, but he doesn’t speak until 11, so I have some nice time to sleep in!