Tuesday, 27 May 2008
It's my last day in Novi Sad!! Ahhhh!!! My goodbye schedule is pretty ridiculous, but I found myself with an extra minute, so I thought I'd blog while I have the chance. This could very well be the last time I manage to update though (obviously I won't be continuing this in America). In a little while I have my last trip to the dentist, an excursion to Fruska Gora with my professors, and then a night with the best friends (including the last Dane haircut), and tomorrow I'll be packing like crazy and then leaving for Belgrade (hopefully in the morning) to stay with Ljilja and Desko for my last night in Serbia before flying back early Thursday morning (damn early). So, between all that, I somehow doubt I'll make it back to xanga... it's been real though.
The last couple days have been intense, but mostly fun. Sunday I said goodbye to the new friends, which actually turned out to be kind of anti-climactic, but whatever. Honestly, I'm kind of glad I'm leaving, because our times together were just getting too complicated. We spent our last day together at Strand, which is the fake beach on the (nasty) Danube here in Novi Sad. They love it there, but I guess it's just hard for me to appreciate when I'm used to the Outer Banks. I guess the main reason they like going is to see all the guys in speedos, of which there are plenty, so maybe I shouldn't be so critical. Either way, bye new friends!
On my way home from hanging out with them, I got a call from the party friends seeing if I wanted to go out - perfect. They couldn't come to my farewell party because of a wedding, which is a perfectly good excuse, so we made up for it with a night at Giardino. It was a good time, as always, which ended with crepes, so really you can't go wrong there. I gave them my e-mail address and everything but didn't get theirs, so hopefully they'll write. Zoran says he wants to move to America too (and seems actually serious about it), so who knows. Until then, bye party friends!
After the night out with them, I woke up at the ungodly hour of 6 am to go with Igor to Subotica so I could see it in the daytime. It was a tiring day, but I still had fun. Subotica really is a world away from the rest of Serbia as far as infrastructure/modernity, so I'm glad I got to see that. Plus, I got to meet Igor's parents, who are hilarious (and very reminiscent of Balkan stereotypes). I kind of feel bad for him, because they brought up his ex-wife non-stop... awkward times (they don't know about his live-in boyfriend of 3 years). After running around Subotica we barely made it to the train on time, and then sufferred in one of my worst Balkan travel experiences ever. Full train + 90 degrees + random stops in the middle of fields = no fun. There was one spectacular moment though when Igor woke up from a short nap, looked around, and said, "Where are we now?", to which the woman next to him replied "In Serbia. Still." Good times. Once we got back in town, we met up with Dane and went over to their straight friends' place (Sale & Lidija) for a goodbye dinner. The food was great, the company was great, and there was one particularly great moment when my friend Jelena turned to Igor out of the blue and said "How big is yours?" She meant flash drive... or did she? Overall, it was a fun night (even though I really crashed towards the end). Bye straight friends!
This morning I went to Azbukum to have a farewell coffee with Natasa (my school's director), which was nice. I wish I had gotten to know her better, but she was always super busy, and I usually didn't have an excuse to bother her (not that she would've minded at all if I had just wanted to hang out randomly, but still). If any of you are ever considering studying Serbian, come to Azbukum!! It was great. Bye Abukum!
Afterwards I finally managed to meet up with my landlord, and fortunately he was prepared with the 360 euro he owed me without any prompting. Now I'm rich! And by rich, I mean I can pay my credit card bill. Maybe. It's enough to make me wish I was a Serbian lawyer who seems to own half the apartments in Novi Sad. Bye landlord!
So, as previously, mentioned, I've got some more people to say goodbye to... and sometime I have to clean this apartment and pack and everything. Hmm. Not sure when that's going to happen. Eh, I'll sleep when I'm dead. See you soon!!!
Sunday, 25 May 2008
Well "goodbye" season is in full swing here in Novi Sad, resulting in a relatively full schedule and no time to blog. Thursday I made what will probably be my last trip out to Novo Naselje to hang out with the new friends (I still have plans to see them, but not at Rade's place). For whatever reason, of all my frequent hangouts in Serbia I'm probably going to miss that place the least, although it has much more to do with the bus ride and feeling that I don't get out enough than with the new friends as people. Obviously I'm still glad I met them and everything. Plus we had a particularly nice time together, and it's always good to end on a high.
Since I had been feeling incredibly guilty about cancelling on the high schoolers after my surgery, I rescheduled to meet with the second group on Friday morning. It turned out that it happened to be the last day of school (ever) for the seniors, so there were some attention-span issues, but I'm still happy I went. It would've been really not cool of me to leave without saying goodbye. In the end I'm not sure they really learned anything from me (or cared about anything I ever said to them), but at the very least I got a firsthand look at the Serbian education system and got to meet some cool teachers (especially Jovana and Nebojsa). And this time nobody told me that America has a corrupt moral system, so that was nice. I gave out my e-mail address to all the kids, but then later realized that I never learned ANY of their names, so it might be awkward if they actually write me. Eh, I guess I feel pretty much the same towards all of them, so maybe it doesn't matter too much.
After school I hung out with Igor downtown (as usual), and hinted strongly that I wanted to go out, but apparently he and Dane had other (sketchy, internet-related) plans. But, just as I was about to give up, I got a text message from my friend Jelena saying she heard I was looking to go out (apparently Igor called her), so even though it felt a little like a pity-hang out I still appreciated it. I hadn't spent much time with Jelena one-on-one before, but we actually had a blast. We started out in her apartment finishing off her rakija stash, and then wandered along Laze Teleckog (which was FULL of people) before settling on a second-floor bar on Zmaj Jovina. The whole experience reminded me how few times I've managed to go out this year, but maybe in the end that's ok given budget restraints (and it's not like I sat around at home, I was just always at someone's apartment). So yeah, good times.
Last night I had a big going-away party planned, but it ended up being mostly a failure. It turned out the majority of the usual party-at-my-place crew was either out of town or just didn't show (thanks, Lazar), so it was only the six of us who went to Lake Palic together (minus Jekic). I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty disappointed (especially considering the amount of alcohol I bought with the money I don't have), but the best friends helped make up for it by giving me a really nice going away present. Oh well, soon I'll be starting a fabulous life in Massachusetts (after my DC detour) and none of this will matter. The day was still pretty depressing in general though, because I had plans to go up to the fortress to check out the art galleries for potential souvenirs, but not only did I have no one to go with but it ended up raining all afternoon. Hopefully I'll find time Tuesday morning to make it up there.
In other news, I simply can't pass over the fact that the Eurovision Song Contest finals were held in Belgrade last night. As all reports on Eurovision must point out, even though it's generally mocked/ignored in western Europe, east of the former Iron Curtain it is still a big deal and a huge source of national pride. At my (lame) party last night we tried to watch part of it online, but my internet's not good enough it would seem. Now, overall I feel Eurovision songs are the epitome of campiness and kitch, but after watching some of the entries I think I could've voted for France and kept my self-respect (although after hearing the actual song I can't understand all that controversy about it being in English, considering I can't really understand a single word he's saying). Also, I guess the (admittedly strange) Bosnian song didn't make me want to die (unlike the god-awful Serbian entry). And I have to say, it was pretty hilarious when Jelena told us (to no one's surprise) that she voted for Bulgaria. But in the end, in case anyone cares, it all went to Russia's Dima Bilan, who was apparently produced by Timbaland. Yawn.
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Yay! I can eat real food again!!! I just got back from my last trip to the dentist (well, actually I'm going back in a week just to make sure everything's healing ok), and in a few minutes I'm headed to a nice cafe/restaurant on the Danube with Igor. It's not as romantic as it sounds, but the food is really the key here. Mmm sopska salata... ok I'll stop.
In other news, I'm officially in my last week here in Novi Sad. As I've probably mentioned before, my flight leaves from Belgrade next Thursday, but since I'll have to wake up before the sun rises to get to the airport on time I'll be heading down a day early and staying with Ljilja and Desko. It still hasn't really sunk in that I'll be leaving Serbia so soon. What will I do when I can't walk over to the best friends' whenever I feel like, or pretend like I didn't understand something, or ride public transport without paying? I guess in the end it's worth the trade-off of not making a fool of myself at the Mercatur cheese counter every week.
Despite my oral impairments, I've been doing a decent job of getting out and being social for my last week. On Monday I hung out with the party friends, one of whom just got back from Prague. I have to say, I really regret not meeting them earlier, because they're damn cool. Plus, Zoran has a particularly amusing habit of talking to me half in English/half in Serbian (even worse than a former Hungarian friend who shall remain unnamed), resulting in lots of puzzled stares on the street. Good times. I also regret that I'd never been to the cafe where we ended up hanging out before, because it was super nice and super cheap! Always a good combination. Maybe I can convince the best friends to go with me one more time before I leave... maybe. If I'm paying.
Speaking of me paying, my stack of Serbian cash has officially dwindled down to nothing, and my $80 bank account isn't going to help out much. Theoretically I should be ok, because my landlord owes me 360 euro, but he keeps not scheduling a time to meet up, despite numerous text messages on my part (which was a big step). On the plus side though, the future tenant came by to check out the place, and he said he wants internet!!!!! Why is this such great news, you're wondering? Well, my internet contract lasts for a year, even though I only wanted it for 7 months, and my landlord said if the next tenant didn't want internet I'd have to pay for the rest of the year (which I was willing to do). But now, I won't have to! This saves me at least $100. Much appreciated.
So, since my financial situation is boring and I can't wait any longer to get real food, you'll have to wait until next time for any more updates. Hope it's not too inconvenient.
Monday, 19 May 2008
So I know I just posted 2 seconds ago, but I have to take this opportunity to complain once more about the Serbian language. As you are probably aware, I recently had surgery on my gums. As it turns out, the Serbian word for "gums" (desni) happens to be the same word as "right" (as in "on the right," not like "you have the right to remain silent"). This has led to irritatingly frequent use of bad puns: Kako su desni? A levi? (How are your gums? And to the left?). Yeah, not funny after the first time. I'm officially putting this one up there with weather-related last name jokes or references to certain superheroes.
Ok, I'm done complaining now.
It's day six of my involuntary hunger strike, and it's starting to be a downer. This weekend it was a particular downer when I was at Igor's family's country home on Lake Palic with all the usual suspects. Of course, I'm still glad I went and I had a great time, it was just rough to watch them grill for hours and then to eat yogurt. Again. Oh well. Like I said though, the weekend was still a success. I rode up with Igor and some of our straight friends in a car (I know! A real car!) on Saturday morning, and then the rest of the group (Dane, et al) came up by train later. There was cutting grass with scythes, there was riblja corba, there was badminton (I still say it's for grandmothers). There was even a boating excursion or two, which ended tragically for our friend Jekic (who fell completely in the water - which is supposedly where the entire sewer system of Subotica empties out. Gross). It was definitely nice to be out of Novi Sad for a while, and to see something new in Serbia, which doesn't happen nearly as often as it should. I was hoping to get to spend some time in downtown Subotica, since I'd never been before, but I ended up just walking around after dark for an hour with Jekic while we waited for our train back to Novi Sad (everyone else went back by car). I'm debating whether or not to take a day and go back, because it was definitely really pretty and unique, but it also reminded me a lot of Szeged, which was the most boring place I've ever been to in my life (including Williamsburg, and that's saying a lot). We'll see. We did manage to make a day trip to the Palic Zoo though, which was mildly depressing but not half as bad as the Belgrade Zoo. I felt particularly bad for the alligator, leopard, and grizzly bear. The elephant didn't look too happy either. It was enough to make me rethink my plans to frequent the National Zoo this summer.
Speaking of this summer, it starts in less than 10 days!!! I still have to plan move-out with my landlord (which, if you remember my feelings towards him, will be an ordeal), a probable final party this weekend, and a last visit with Ljilja and Desko. I have the feeling there are going to be some awkward times ahead, especially involving the last night dilemma of hanging out with the best friends or the new friends. Oh well, I'm sure things will work out.
Mexican food, here I come.
studying Serbian in Novi Sad for a year... but someday soon headed back to the States via DC/NYC