La Vie En Rose for 2008 August

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[Comments] (2) Drago mi je: Today is the end of my 6 week Serbian course. Whew! I feel like the last two weeks have be stagnant if not worse... I seem to be forgetting stuff rather than learning it. Today on the test my professor said I got all the difficult stuff right but made a ton of stupid mistakes. At least it's not the other way around! Anyway I have earned a break and break I will. In a few hours I am setting off to meet Jenn in Plovidv and we will couch surf and flexpass it around the Balkans. Should be loads of fun. I'm all travel nerved up. I'll use that as an excuse for this disorganized post. This is why I never like to leave for anywhere in the morning, it's impossible to sleep. Anyway. Today being the last day for everyone (the school is shutting down for holiday) it had the feeling of the last day of school, like high school style. After we finished our tests we picnicked in the classroom, I walked around barefoot taking pictures, checking email, making tea for everyone, then we had a relaxed game for the last two hours of class. It was a bit sad because although I'll be seeing the professors and some of the other students who are coming back, some I won't see.

Now I've done a ton of these language courses (well okay three) and I always make good friends who I know I'll see/ have seen again but this has by far been the most interesting group of people. In fact we have had people flowing steadily in and out for the 6 weeks I've been here but a good group of us have been here more or less for at least a month. And some real characters! The slightly embittered academic addicted to the internet, laid back and hilarious german with his own grasp of the English language complete with helpful and eager host brother hanging on, enthusiastic French girl, fellow lazy American grad student, etc. It's been long enough for us all to get to know each of and to build up a repertoire of inside jokes, etc. Mostly mispronounced Serbian words. Well, I'm trying but I don't think I'll be able to express exactly what it's like to be in this situation, where you have so many people from such different backgrounds thrown together with hilarious results. Use your imagination. Anyway it's really a great time and I'm looking forward to coming back and meeting new people but I don't think it will be the same. Based on the stories I hear from last year it seems like the July group are really where it's at. Wish I'd been there (but I was way too burned out from writing my thesis to be able to concentrate of learning Serbian immediately!) Oh well!

[Comments] (2) Seen too clearly what she can't be: I have been totally slacking on the blog front recently, but if it makes you feel any better I have been remiss on all fronts that don’t involve reading twilight parodies. So here is a quick run down on what I have been up to lately:

Returned from a two week jaunt in Turkey with Jenn. Pictures… sometime. I have an excuse! My computer hates the uploader thingie. It was a great time, but a little more expensive than I thought it would be even though we were cutting all kinds of corners. Prices raised approximately 300% from the ones quoted in my 2007 LP, no joke. I’m through with traveling through Europe for now. No really. Stop laughing. Ok so I have a cheap flight to Florence booked in January, but after that, that's it. I'm thinking Mexico.

Back to the grind here in Novi Sad. I have learned a lot about my limits here this summer. When it comes to something like language immersion, that’s important, because unless I’m working at peak capacity I feel like I’m wasting my time. Or not making the most of it. Something. I got burnt out after about four weeks, and the two weeks off weren’t enough to fully recharge. If I had it to do over again, I’d do three weeks, take a week or two off, then another three weeks. And I’d bring some books and do actual work for a week during the break. Then I’d go back to London.

Back to London on the 9th! Wooo!

Also I booked my flight to the US. 13th to 29th October, flying to and from SF which means I’ll need a ride to SLC at some point, keep your ears to the ground.

I have some interesting classmates this time around. The French girl is still here, but she leaves tomorrow so I’m about to go meet her one last time. I’m in class with two other American guys, one 35 and the other 19, so we are quite a diverse group for being all Americans, but these two have the distinction of their courses paid for by the US government. I actually wonder what percentage of Azbukum’s income comes from the US government. Wish they’d pay for my course.

We have class every day at nine, which is way too early for me to be up and thinking in a foreign language, and sometimes activities in the evenings. On Monday we all watched Gde ceveta limun zut and I gave a little (very little) talk about my research. The movie was interesting but long and the portrayal of Flora Sandes was barfalicious. I wish I’d gone to some of those memorials when I was in Corfu, instead of mudbathing on the beach and crashing other hostels, being bitter about how commercial it was after Albania, but what can you do. You live, you learn.

Uhh yeah I better go do my homework. I have been suck a slacker lately with not doing it, I feel like I'm in high school. The time just literally flies by and I have no idea where it goes. This entire summer was gone in the blink of an eye. I remember the days of yore when summers were endless, day after day romping through vineyards and... yeah.

[Comments] (3) Also, I lost my kišobran: All of a sudden I feel oddly disconnected from events in the States. There's all the political happenings, which I seem to find out about only through reading blogs and facebook statuses, despite several resolutions to check cnn daily. Then today my classmate asked why we were working on Monday when it's a holiday (his friend who works at the embassy isn't working) and our teacher was like, duh, why should we have an American holiday off? And I was like, oh, wow, Labor Day. Also, WHERE DID THE SUMMER GO?

I had a dream about packing (hurriedly) last night. I guess I am getting ready to leave Serbia. Hey, at least there was no German army involved!

Anyway, today was such a Friday. Yesterday I went out with a classmate and his host brother who is also a friend of mine, plus so random people to a happening venue where they have cover bands playing the best of Serbian rock music. I love it. A great time was had by all but the force-feeding of several large slices of Serbian pizza at 3 am was not so much fun. Class was as early as ever so I was reallly tired, and also today happened to be one of our professor's defense for her master's thesis, and we split up our classes by going to support her. Imagine listening to a hour discussion of Serbian national poetry on 4 hours sleep (na srpskom naravno). However. My classmates and I plus our professors have a really good rapport going, and we spent the rest of the afternoon joking about things that are probably not very funny in the retelling. (bad turbofolk, and sweaters knitted with the inscription 'srpska zvezda.' told you.) I was so tired I was almost hyper, but it's better to be joking than sitting quietly or something. After taking turns playing our favorite serbian music on youtube, and reading out essays about our favorite trips (which lead to an interesting discussion about sex changes and pedophilia in Thailand. yah I know) our professora asked, "What to do?" We wanted to igraju. (play/ dance) My suggestion of Bingo for practicing numbers didn't catch on, but we did have a short kolo (Serbian national dance) demonstration before settling down to read an text in cyrillic. You win some, you lose some.

The other day I went for a long hike in the fortress and I think the exercise was good for getting rid of a lot of my angst. It was interesting to see the fortress, I haven't been back through the yonder parts since EXIT, and not in daylight ever. It looks so different, it's hardly recognizable. There were houses! People live there! What do they do during the festival? Surely the don't STAY there? I can't imagine anyone trying to live a normal life in the middle of um, southern Europe's biggest music festival. Also, it's huge. I thought for sure I was beyond the span of the fest, but when I got to where I couldn't go any further, I realized I was looking down into the dance arena. On a side note, I am now officially Very Worried that EXIT and the release of Half Blood Prince (movie) will be at the same time next July.

In the morning we watched an interesting documentary about Roma in Belgrade. The movie itself was well done, using a certain type of car used by the Roma to create their multi-tasking vehicles as a hanger for all sorts of issues. It's so hard to talk about the Roma because it seems like it's just too many problems and too few solutions. I think they are better off here in Serbia than elsewhere, though. At least they seem to be less behind petty crime and eeking out a living selling things at the pijaca etc. One guy in the movie said something that got my thinking. He said there was no recycling service in Serbia so they do it instead. So why not start one (long overdue anyway) and hire the Roma to do what they are doing now, only give them actual equipment and decent pay so they can provide for their families? Eh but I don't know what I'm talking about. Anyway it's interesting to see stuff like this, and a outdoor photo exhibit that was on the city center a while ago. Then contrast it with a woman we saw while walking back from our field trip, holding a baby with a 3 year old following her, naked from the waist down and covered in dirt (or something else?). It's hard not to judge: how can you let your child walk around like that?


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