Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Settling in...

I know it's been awhile since you all heard from me, but blame it on the city and its people :) It's so captivating that it's distracting me from doing things such as updating my blog :) But here's a recap of my past two weeks.

The weeks after the workshop were basically spent getting settled into my life as a volunteer. It was a great opportunity to get to know (most) of the people involved with the MEC. I say most, because MEC has so many members, but most only show up when they are needed or have to, therefore there's only a small number of faces that appear regularly. I have met the three educators: Nikola for Film and Boza (most likely misspelled your name - forgive me :)) and Vid for Animation (the latter is living the high life in LA - I mean do you actually work while you're there, or was the task 'just to have fun' ;)) All three seem to know what they talk about - which is useful, since I am clueless and want to learn alot :)

And then there is Sonja - our lovely language teacher! She knows how to make learning languages fun: she's always bringing music or introducing games. Not only very entertaining, but a much better way to remember all the new rules and vocab thrown at us :)

Besides the educators at MEC I have had the pleasure to spent time with my mentors Suncica and Dragan - both are so dedicated to their work, that I consider them more as friends, rather than mentors. They are ALWAYS there when you need them (and they're even there when you don't - which reminds me: can you please turn in your keys to the apartment? Zezam se - I love you two ;)) And thanks by the way for getting me addicted to palańćinke :)

Miomir has told me that I'll be going to Croatia with Andrea (who works with a partner organisation in Novi Sad and whom I have yet to meet :)) I am really excited to represent MEC and will do my best :)

About my housemates - I got so sick and tired of them that I kicked them out over Christmas! I sent Sonia back to Vienna and Johannes and Diego to Sarajevo ;) Nah, I'm glad to hear they enjoyed their holidays...and so did I :) I guess nobody noticed the parties I threw when they were away :)

As for myself - I am really enjoying my life here. I have had the chance to meet a few locals and make some friends. They will definitely come in handy to practice my Serbian (that is in a few months - when I know a decent amount of the language to carry a simple conversation :)) Right now I am looking forward to spending New Years in Budapest. I will be leaving (very) early tomorrow morning and can't wait to explore more of the Balkans :)

Tonight we'll have a little 'New Years Cocktail' at the office - let's make it late, saves me getting up tomorrow :)

To all my lovely readers: I hope you had a very merry Christmas (and to those who still have to celebrate it: I hope you WILL have a very merry Christmas :)) and of course srećna nova godina! Talk to you after I get back from Budapest :)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Partnership Building Workshop

A few days after arriving in Belgrade we were invited to attend a workshop which was focused on building partnerships for future projects. There were participants from countries such as Georgia, Germany, Bosnia, Italy, Greece and Portugal. The group was about 15 people. They stayed at the lovely Arka Barka (floating) hostel. What a magical place it is: the staff is uber friendly, the views are to die for and so is the food :)

All in all the workshop took 5 days. There was an arrival cocktail party on Tuesday night. We only found out about this event at the very last minute, so we did not really know what to expect coming in to it.

The next morning we arrived early at the hostel to find ourselves playing 'getting to know eachother' games most of the day. It was fun. We made portraits of eachother among other things. Later on in the day we split up in three groups. We all had to make a short video which had to have a 'thriller' kind of feel to it. My group, which consisted of two Balkan boys, a Georgian girl and an Italian guy, decided to make a video about the prejudices tourists have against Balkan people. We did not really have a storyboard nor clear story line...so most of the taping was done on the go...a lot of improvising :)

Later in the evening we screened the short movies. Ours was definitely in the top 3 (there were only 3 movies made ;))

The next few days were spent presenting each organization, talking about possible future projects and collaborations. Then on Sunday there was a 'see you soon party' where we danced the night away...

It was definitely an interesting way to start my EVS project. Right away, I was getting into a daily routine. It was sad saying goodbyes, as I met some great people. But who knows we might work together again sometime in the near future.

As of now, I can't wait to start working at the Media Education Centre. Today we are meeting the boss once again for a talk.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A New Adventure Begins...

If all flights could be more like the one I had from Amsterdam to Belgrade, I would be a very happy person!

I arrived early at Schiphol airport after saying my goodbyes. There was no queue at the JAT Airways check in, so I was quickly acknowledged and helped. All the hours spent worrying about the excess weight I was carrying in my luggage were for nothing...While my suitcase was 8 kilos 'overweight', the guy at the check in did not say a thing. Good for me :) Else it would have been a costly affair! Because I was (probably) the first one to check in, I could pick my seat at the very front of the plane. At 4.45 PM we started boarding and I was pleased to see there were not many people flying to Belgrade - so I had the whole 3 seats to myself. During the short and comfortable flight they served beverages and food for free (after having flown with budget airlines mostly, I expected to have to pay for water and food). So that was a nice surprise, even though the sandwiches tasted like s***. Then we arrived at Belgrade Nikola Tesla airport 10 minutes EARLY! That's a first. How great would it be if ALL flights could actually leave and arrive on time or even early :)

Went through the passport control, got my baggage and headed for the exit. Not sure who to look for, I walked fairly slowly hoping that the person waiting for me would recognize me from the vague picture I sent them...and he did :) Dragan, one of the volunteers' mentors, greeted me and we took a taxi to the apartment downtown. It was only a short half hour drive. At the apartment I finally met my roomie for the year, Sonia from Austria. First impressions of her as well as our mentor are good :) Our other flatmates/volunteers are due to arrive later this week and the last one will be here mid January. The rest of the evening was spent unpacking, chatting with my roomie and Dragan (who will be staying at the apartment for our first few days to assist us - talk about service ;)) and drinking some tea. Turns out we're all kinda tea-lovers :)

It's Sunday morning now, and I woke up WAY too early for a Sunday morning. I don't know what time I got up, but it was still dark outside (but could have been because the shades were down :)) Simply couldn't sleep - whether it had to do with a new bed and environment or the fact that it's too damn hot in the apartment - I don't know. So got up too 'explore' the flat a bit better, since everything is so new and exciting. Had to do it quietly though, since the others were still sleeping. First impressions of the flat - GOOD :) Our bedroom is much bigger and 'warmer' than expected. And we've got a lot of storage space - which is not a bad thing for us girls :) The pictures slideshow of the apartment sent to us, made me kinda not want to see the flat, but I guess it was a good thing to come here with low expectations - it could only get better! And it definitely is better in real :) So there are three bedrooms - two big ones and a smaller one - kitchen with little breakfast bar, separate bathroom and toilet, and the living room has a 'dining' area in the corner. I have to say this is the best flatshare I have lived in so far. The only drawback though is that we are on the groundfloor. While it came in handy last night rolling my suitcases in, I'd prefer a place on one of the higher floors. If not for the view, definitely just so that passers by cannot sneak a peak in our bedroom while we're getting naked/dressed :) Well, that's the way it is.

The rest of my first full day in Belgrade will probably be to finish unpacking etc. The only thing on the agenda is to go see my workplace and meet the 'boss' at 5 PM. I am excited :) Till next time, greetings from Belgrade!
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