Saturday, October 8, 2011

October 2: Long Study Tour, Day 1

Hej!  I apologize for being MIA, as I'm sure everyone has missed my blog updates so much, but I've been a little busy traveling to Kosovo!!  This past week was the week of long study tours with DIS, so on Sunday morning the rest of Justice & Human Rights and I left to spend the week in Prishtina, Kosovo's capital, as well as a few other cities/villages in the area.  I can honestly say that it was one of the most interesting places I have ever been-- very different from anywhere else I have ever been, that's for sure, but definitely one of the greatest learning experiences.  Also, it was quite an adventure from the very beginning.....

Sunday morning I left the apartment bright and early to meet Sarah and Charlotte at Nørreport Station so we could catch the Metro to the airport.  Since I live about five minutes away from the station, I took a nice, leisurely walk through the quiet, hazy, cobblestone streets with my suitcase in tow only to arrive at the station and have a horrifying epiphany- I had forgotten all of my toiletries.  Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, everything.  With about 7 minutes to spare before I was supposed catch the Metro, I was faced with the decision to either 1) forget about it and just replace everything once we arrived in Kosovo, or 2) to take off running back to my room and grab everything.  I chose the second option, making quite a scene as a tore down the cobblestones dragging my suitcase.  On the way back, I was within sight of the station and Sarah called me to tell me the next train would arrive in literally 2 minutes.  I continued sprinting to the station, literally ran down 4 flights of escalators, and missed the Metro by 10 seconds.  Because of a misunderstanding reading the train schedules, we thought that the next train wouldn't come for 20 minutes, so we didn't quite know what to do.  Fortunately, we soon found out that another Metro would come in 2.5 minutes.  Crisis averted.  Fifteen minutes after that, we joined the rest of our class at the airport.

Charlotte and me on the Metro

After a layover in Budapest, we landed in Prishtina in the early afternoon, stopped to drop our things off at the hotel, and went out for a guided walking tour of the city.  As I said before, the city was so different from anywhere else I have ever been, which is understandable considering Kosovo itself is still post-conflict and still developing.  Driving outside the city especially, there were a lot of buildings whose construction hadn't been completed, so they just kind of looked like empty shells dotting the landscape.  As we walked through the city, I wasn't sure what to expect.  The people of Kosovo are predominantly Muslim, but we were told that they were on the more liberal side- religion was part of life for most people, but it wasn't obvious from their dress or anything like that.  Still, we saw a mosque on the tour and got to go inside and look around.  We ended the tour with dinner, and we soon found out that we had arrived in Prishtina just in time for the last night of their annual Beer Festival!  Our guide encouraged us to go, so after dinner we went over to check it out.  After sampling a local beer, enjoying the music that can be described as polka with a middle eastern flare, and chatting with some of the locals, we went back to the hotel to get some sleep after an exhausting day of traveling.

Prishtina, Kosovo

Inside the mosque

Sidestreet in Prishtina

Beer Festival!

View from my hotel room!

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