Well, this is it. It truly feels like the past 4 months have just flown by. I left Belgrade on Sunday, and will be traveling through Europe for the next two weeks. So in a sense, it feels like this semester isn’t really over, and I’ll be heading home to Belgrade soon. But the reality of returning to the US and to Whitman is slowly creeping in…
Dobar dan! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post, but I have good reasons. For the last 3 weeks I have been living in Sarajevo and conducting my own independent research project. This is one of the unique aspects about this program, in that it allows undergraduates the option to formulate and execute individual research projects (in almost any city as well)! Thus, this last month of the program is dedicated to these projects – we each work on TONS of research, finding participants to interview, and then writing a 30 page paper.
I returned from our program’s excursion in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) 2 weeks ago, and I am still processing all that I experienced and learned. This program is incredibly intensive, and the content we discuss and learn about is not light. This trip to BiH was no exception – the war in Bosnia was the bloodiest of the Yugoslav conflicts.
As for the title of this post – BiH is an absolutely breathtaking country, especially at this time of year! Driving from Belgrade to Banja Luka and then to Sarajevo and Srebrenica, we passed through huge mountains, colorful trees, quaint farms and peaceful creeks (see the pictures below). This country is so beautiful, it is hard to imagine that such horrific things could occur on this same land.
When you drive into Kosovo from Serbia, something you’ll notice immediately is the use of two languages on city signs. Priština, the capital of Kosovo, is spelled Pristinë in Albanian, the majority language of Kosovo.
The controversy of Kosovo cannot be explained easily, especially considering the contested histories and narratives of this specific region – but I will try my best to give you an idea…
In the past two weeks, I’ve really begun to take a look at my experience studying abroad so far. I’ve been in Serbia for almost 5 weeks now, so I’m getting very comfortable navigating the city, balancing classes, and living with my host family. However, my perception of my position here as an American student is continuously being challenged and reshaped every day.
I’ve just finished my third week of classes and I’m learning so much! We’re already wrapping up our first class on the breakup of Yugoslavia and the wars of the 1990s.
This class focused on Yugoslavia before Tito’s death in 1980 and the events leading up to the wars of the 90s. One of our homework assignments was to watch the BBC documentary titled “The Death of Yugoslavia”. I highly recommend this documentary; it was broadcast in 1995 and includes interviews with all the major actors – Milošević, Tuđman, Kučan, and more (those were the presidents of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia at the time).
I have only been in Belgrade for 8 days now, but it feels as if so much more time has passed! This is probably due to the fact that I’ve been exposed to new things non-stop, from the second I got off the plane to this morning on my bus ride to class – but I’m enjoying every moment and just trying to take it all in…
Belgrade is such a unique city! The city’s geographically and historically important location sits at the intersection of the Danube and Sava rivers. These rivers at one point marked the end of the Ottoman empire and the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This has resulted in the unique blend of East and West which makes up Serbian culture today.