It’s been about a week since Djordje and I landed in Belgrade. I never realized how much it meant for Djordje to reconnect with his family until I saw the smile on his mother’s face. The cost of being an international student trying to make it in America is that Djordje only gets to see his family for a few days out of the year.
Djordje and I first met in Gates Hall two years ago during the famous blackout caused by Hurricane Irene. My dormmates and I were forced out of our rooms and into a cellphone-lit common room. Two guitars, a game of poker, and conversations about our childhoods were all that helped us pass the time. I got to know Djordje as the spontaneous Serbian kid that was proud of his accent, and although we’ve grown up, we definitely haven’t grown apart.
So far my time in Serbia has been amazing. Djordje’s family has been incredibly hospitable in welcoming me into their family. Regardless of where we are in the city, we always come home for dinner and eat together; something my family never took seriously.
Belgrade itself is a city with a complex history. It’s been completely destroyed and rebuilt over 17 times throughout it’s almost 2200 year history. The city now covers 3.6% of the entire country’s land and it started out as just a small fortress protecting the Danube River.
This city is an anthropologist’s dream. Under the city lays a complex network of tunnels built by the Romans. Whenever major construction projects occur around the fortress, they almost always uncover new artifacts from Belgrade’s ancient history. Explore the tunnels and you’ll find German ammunition. Dig a hole three feet deep in the fortress and find you’ll Roman pottery.
Every day here has been a rush. For example, I’m heading to Budapest and Vienna in half an hour, so I’ll have to tell you more about my first week’s adventures later. Talk to you soon!