Blogs from Serbia, Europe - page 5


Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade August 3rd 2014

A wonderful end to a wonderful Dialogue of Civilizations. That is all I have to say. A quick run-through of my day: Woke up in time for a late breakfast, blogged and sent some emails, relaxed, went for a run, went to the lake, packed, got dinner, had celebratory drinks, bed. I must say, Dialogue, as cool as it sounds when you're selling it on tour or talking to friends and family about it, is massively underrated. This was potentially one of the best experiences of my life, and definitely the best of my college career. The people I met are amazing, funny, smart, diverse, and active in the community. I have no doubt that I will keep in contact with some of them for at least the rest of college, if not beyond. However, more ... read more
The giant fountain at the lake

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade August 2nd 2014

What an interesting day. The events that transpired included: -sleeping in until breakfast wasn't available anymore -getting stuck in the elevator when it ground to a halt between floors 5 and 6 (shortly to be followed by Dave also getting trapped in the elevator between floors 5 and 6) -getting lost on my run -visiting the Nikola Tesla museum and being (literally) shocked -Meeting the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who also happens to be a paratrooper -Riding on a boat on the Danube -Taking tequila shots for a friend's 21st birthday at midnight -trying to stay awake after staying up until 4 last night All in all, I would call it a successful day. The trapped in the elevator part was maybe not the coolest thing that's ever happened to me, but it's a ... read more
Tesla's ashes
Tesla's RC boat
Active Tesla coil (notice the lit neon sticks)

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade August 1st 2014

And with that, the meat of this Dialogue is all but gone. The second disputation was this morning, this time with my team taking part as judges. It was truly a spectacularly fought debate, especially given that I -- and I know I'm not alone -- expected it to be one-sided, given who the debating teams were. In fact, after deliberating for nearly half an hour, we ended up awarding the disputation to the team that we had expected to be crushed. Credit to them. In the afternoon, we headed over to the fortress, where we explored the military museum. It was relatively interesting; starting back in the ancient era with simple spears, and ranging up to the Balkan Wars. It was quite thorough in its coverage of weaponry and explanations of important battles and fighting ... read more
Model fortress
My new suit
Huge bomb

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 31st 2014

One down, one to go. Today's disputation was on the Office of the High Representative and was very well performed and received. The long and short of it is: there's no right answer (which is of course why we hold these debates; there'd be no point if there was a right answer). The team in support of removing OHR won out, but it could have gone either way. My team, for its own part, has been preparing for the debate tomorrow: writing questions, examining our own prepared points (which we did before knowing we'd be judges), and considering possible arguments we may have missed. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view -- we've had a lot of free time because of it), there's only so much we can do to prepare; much of it ... read more
Tito's tomb
Youth batons handed to Tito
Model of Tito's work area

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 30th 2014

First, a note to my family and anyone other people or groups to whom I promised to send postcards (you know who you are): I did, in fact, uphold that promise, and postcards were sent out from Sarajevo around July 8th. As you've probably learned from my blog by now, practically everything in the Balkans is super inefficient. As such, it should come as no surprise that I recently discovered those postcards are probably inexorably lost in the Bosnian postal system. There is another round of postards being sent out from Belgrade tomorrow; we'll see if they fare any better. Now, on to today's topics: allow me to be excited for having handed in our executive summary for our disputation for a moment. YAY! With that, my team now prepares our judge's rubrics, questions, and plans ... read more
The city just stops at the river
Lightning strike 1
Lightning strike 2

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 29th 2014

A tip for anyone planning on traveling to the Balkans in summertime: plan for heat with random intermittent thunderstorms during the day and every night. Also, do your best to not need to wear pants or long sleeve shirts: it's that much worse, and odds are that your destination will not be air conditioned. Not that I'm referring to anything that may have happened today, when it was about 85-90 degrees and we visited the un-air conditioned Parliament building, of course dressed business casual. That was actually our second meeting of the day; we first visited the Zoran Djindjic Fund. The Fund is in memory of the first democratically elected prime minister in Serbia, who was assassinated in 2003. It exists to aid in international relations, student exchanges and internships abroad, and furthering Djindjic's vision. While ... read more
The Grand Chanber 2
Central stairs

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 28th 2014

Technically, I went back to America today. Gotta love embassies. The US Embassy in Belgrade is, like the one in Sarajevo, a legitimate complex that overshadows every other embassy. Once again, I know where I'd go if anything ever went bad here. Unlike Sarajevo, this was a fairly comprehensive meeting at the Embassy. We started it off with Ambassador Kirby himself, followed by a Human Rights employee, an economist, and a representative of USAID, all hosted by a member of the Public Affairs team. The perspectives were, obviously, diverse and profound, but it all tied together quite well with what we've been learning. Some interesting tidbits for you: the only country with a slower railroad system than Serbia is North Korea. Japanese rarely, if ever, say "no," but rather "yes" and you're left to interpret the ... read more

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 27th 2014

Every now and then, it's nice to have a day off. Like today. With nothing planned, it was perfect for relaxing, researching, preparing, and, of course, running. We woke up at 10:20 to say goodbye, unfortunately, to one of our Dialogue-mates who had to be sent home for health concerns (to the parents that this may worry: my professor has been taking Dialogues, usually 2 each year, for 20 years. This is the second person he's ever sent home for health reasons). After that and breakfast, we took time to relax. I started my research for our disputations today. The group of teams that I'm in is discussing whether the EU should mandate that Serbia recognize Kosovo's independence as a condition for Serbia's potential EU membership...a fascinating but very polarizing question. I will, of course, be ... read more
Remains of a Serbian feast
Mariachi band 2

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 26th 2014

For my fellow economic fans out there: tough luck today. Nothing about economics at all. Side, but related, note: if you have a queasy stomach, you may want to skip the paragraph starting with "TORTURE." We visited an exhibit today that centered on Communist Oppression in the early Yugoslav era (1940s). This was around the time that the Soviet Bloc was dominating much of eastern Europe, and the communist regimes ruled with minimal opposition. The point of this exhibit was to show that what little opposition existed was brutally shut down. While Stalinism was taking over Poland, Hungary, Romania, and other countries in the area, Yugoslavia was all about its leader, Josip Broz Tito. You'll notice in one photo - a map of eastern Europe - that most black marks incorporate Stalinism, or more blatantly, the ... read more
Model prison camp
Ballot boxes and communist star
The first symbol of the communist regime taken down

Europe » Serbia » West » Belgrade July 25th 2014

Apparently our reprieve from the heat and humidity is now over. I discovered this the hard way by thinking it was a brilliant idea to go for a run and do interval sprints. It was not a brilliant idea. On the flip side, I did get some pictures of the barges on the danube, for those of you who were curious as to the situation there. First, let me point out a few things about my post yesterday that may have provoked some confusion. Serbia has government-sponsored college education, but no jobs. Therefore, students stick around for (mostly) free (or cheap) education, then move to, say, Germany for jobs. Also, the drinking age is essentially non-existant; the last sentence of yesterday's post may have been poorly worded. Anyway, there are only 4 of us that can ... read more
Barges along the Danube
Fortress from across the Danube

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