While Dubrovnik’s main distinguishing feature may simply be its appearance, its other aspects are not to be discounted. There are hints of that particular Balkan charm all over the city and it’s a lovely alternative to more expensive and crowded locations along the water such as the Cinque Terre or the French Riviera. It’s easy to get to, easy to get around, and just plain simple which is somewhat rare nowadays. And since simplicity allows relaxation Dubrovnik might just be the best place for your next vacation.
Six months ago I had an almost negligible sense of direction, but over the course of my time in Serbia I was able to cultivate a set of (honestly, quite vague) goals that drove me to make decisions that have solidified the future of my 2017 in the best way possible: for the first time in years, I have a concrete answer to the "what's next" and "where will you be" questions that every college student is constantly bombarded with.
At the moment, the answers are "travel" and "around" respectively, as I type this from a hotel bar in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina- I couldn't leave the Balkans without coming back one last time.
As we sat in the living room surrounded by six young Serbian men and our friend's mother, grandmother, and younger siblings, I expected to feel like an intruder, but the feeling never surfaced. Instead, I watched a family in their natural habitat: siblings goading one another, with a mother hovering in the background; a grandmother immersed in a game of tic tac toe with the youngest brother.
While I may leave many laughs, late nights, and memories in Belgrade, I’ve gained the same and more from this enigma of a city
I nearly cried when we arrived in the city. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I owe the past half year of my life to what I gained in Sarajevo: drive. My approach to my academics and future career plans has been influenced significantly by my study abroad experience in the Balkans and I returned to the US with a newfound sense of purpose and confidence.
“No city makes you feel more like a New Yorker than Belgrade.”
Some days I wake up with an intense nostalgia for Paris: The rain never fails to have that effect on me.
One of my favorite things about Serbia is the consistency of personality amongst Serbs; despite each being unique individuals with distinct backgrounds there remains a set of characteristics that I’ve noticed in almost every Serb I’ve come to know.
I’m missing Boston something fierce these days so I dug up an old gem I wrote just after I moved there. Enjoy!
An addendum to the previous list...
Sitting in an airport bar on the tail end of my first visit to a city I will soon call home, I wrote down several short anecdotes from my limited time there, concluding the page with, “I have rarely felt so lucky”.
It’s always interesting to see how the reality of a place measures up to the idea of it you formulate in your head. I’m pleased to say that my image of Romania turned out to be fairly on par with what I found there, though I guess that happens when you spend several weeks researching a place for the sake of academia.
It still amazes me that I have had the opportunity to have these experiences and I can say proudly that I wouldn’t want to spend my 20th birthday any other way; there is no greater gift than learning, travel, and good conversation.
For now, these are the thoughts I’ve been able to articulate:
1) like Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania has branded itself as having 'too much history'
2) Romanians seem to have adopted the rhetoric that all humans are the same. It is hugely heartwarming.
3) people understand what makes them happy and are unafraid to avoid things that do not
4) the culture reminds me of Italy, though it retains distinct Eastern European influences. So it goes.
5) I have never felt more welcome in a place in my entire life
Vienna was a pleasant surprise- the very little I knew about Vienna before arriving was sourced purely from fiction novels. In this post I will be sharing tidbits of my visits to some of Vienna’s main attractions.
Even with the damp weather, Budapest was absolutely breathtaking. The city itself is a work of art and its personality, and that of its people is undeniably charming.
That night, as I took in what had officially become my bedroom for the foreseeable future, I had a few thoughts.
First and foremost was, ‘what the hell am I doing?’
I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was about this experience, or the rest of this weekend but I woke up this morning feeling like I could finally call Belgrade home. And then promptly remembered how ridiculous my current life situation is. I feel back asleep with a smile on my face.
I’ll be the first to admit that the fear of missing out has impacted many of my decisions- both large and significant. Now though...
A Serbian burger is essentially a pork and beef patty seasoned with sweet onions. This particular restaurant serves it with french fries and fresh sweet onions (almost everything in the Balkans comes with them) (it’s weird at first but then you start enjoying it) (unless you don’t like onions. Then, well, sorry) which complement the meat perfectly.